Laurie Jury leads the field
Laurie Jury made an early statement of his intentions at the St Moritz Match Race in Switzerland today as he took five wins from five in shifty winds on Lake St Moritz and put himself in a good position ahead of the second day of qualifying tomorrow.
Jury was in excellent form, taking victories against reigning Tour Champion GAC Pindar's Ian Williams and two-time St. Moritz Match Race winner, Mathieu Richard who gained a wildcard entry to the event. Jury finished the day by beating compatriot Josh Junior (NZL) Wellington Spirit, leaving himself on the brink of Quarter Final qualification.
Jury, said: We’ve come away with five wins which is really good for us as a lot of them were really tight today. We had a race against Keith [Swinton] which we just won right on the finish line and a close one with Morvan and Ian [Williams] which came out of penalties so it feels like we’re sailing well but we’ve sailed the same way before, not had decisions going our way and lost all five. The level we are sailing at on the Tour, a good day and a bad day haven’t got much between them so we just need to keep focused and carry on doing what we’re doing.
"We had a really good training sesison yesterday in a bit of breeze, put some pressure on ourselves and the guys did a really good job with the boat speed and the boat handling. I’d say that was what did it for us today."
When commenting on his plans for the remainder of the qualification round, Jury said: "We’ve got to keep pushing ourselves and trying to learn as much as we can. It’s great to get a jump on the lead, especially as we missed out on the Quarters in the last two events. Ideal situation now is to take the first place and go straight through to the semis."
Swede Johnie Berntsson also made the most of the first day’s sailing, taking three commanding victories from three against Swiss crowd favourite Eric Monnin on Okalys Corum, who competes in his tenth St Moritz Match Race, former Tour Champion Yanmar Racing's Peter Gilmour and young Kiwi Phil Robertson, who was condemned to a third defeat of the day.
Berntsson, said: “It was a perfect start for us, especially here at a venue which we know can have some of the trickier conditions. I think here you have to be prepared that you won‘t win all your races at this regatta, so it’s especially pleasing to come in unbeaten.”
Lining up against local skippers on the first day of racing is often seen as a disadvantage, but Berntsson was confident ahead of his first match against Monnin, following their practice day on Lake St Moritz, saying: “In the practice session yesterday we were on the water with Eric Monnin and we felt really good. We thought that there was an opportunity to take an advantage out of the start, which we saw today as his timing was slightly off and that helped us a lot. In that first match we got to choose our positioning and that was important for the win.
“Today overall it was that early control in the starts which was key, managing to get ahead or at least to an area where we got the first puff of wind. It was a bit shifty out there and in our second race we changed the decision on which side to take just 40 seconds before the start and managed to get a big puff out on the right, which made all the difference. That one could have gone either way.”
Mathieu Richard and Ian Williams also finished the day on three wins with two losses to sit third and fourth respectively in the qualification table after day one. Ian Williams carries 2.5 points through after having been deducted a half point for a collision between the two skippers in a match that Williams ultimately won.
Of the Swiss skippers, Eric Monnin secured good wins against Robertson and Bjorn Hansen to leave himself on two wins from three after the first day’s sailing. He said: “We have two wins already but we’re very aware that it doesn’t change a lot and it will take more than that to make it to the quarters. I think the totals needed will be quite high to progress, maybe five or six points from qualification. We hope to go through to the next round but we’ll continue tomorrow as one of the underdogs and try to win the matches we need to go through.
“It’s great for us to compete in our home regatta but we try every year to keep the pressure off ourselves because everyone is looking to us as a Swiss team. We’ve approached the event well this year, just aiming to enjoy each victory or take each loss one at a time.”
Phil Robertson knows that his team need to perform well in St Moritz to keep the pressure on the top three going into the second half of the season. A disappointing session saw his team slump to three defeats from three, Robertson commenting: “We just couldn’t get anything right today. There wasn’t that much specifically that we need to change. We did a lot of things wrong but it was just standard sailing really.
“It was very, very shifty and quite hard to pick as well. We got two of the three starts we wanted but just couldn’t capitalize in the end.”
With everything still to play for, the St Moritz Match Race continues with a second qualifying round tomorrow, starting from 11:00AM CET.
St Moritz Match Race – Qualification Round 1:
Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match 5 - 0
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 3 - 0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) Loire Atlantique Sailing Team 3 - 2
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 2.5* – 2 (0.5 point deduction for boat collision)
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 2 - 3
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 2 - 1
Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum 2 - 1
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 1 - 2
Jerome Clerc (SUI) Team CER 1 - 2
Josh Junior (NZL) Wellington Spirit 1 - 4
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 1 - 4
Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing 0 - 3