Hat trick for Hansen after epic finale
Champagne flowed again for Bjorn Hansen and his eWork Sailing Team, after another nail biting day on the water resulted in the local heroes winning Stena Match Cup Sweden for a second year in a row. This takes Hansen’s victories to three at Scandinavia’s top match racing event, the third event on the 2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, ahead of Russell Coutts and Dean Barker’s two victories apiece, but behind Peter Gilmour’s seven wins.
As we have seen in a few other crucial matches over the course of this week, all was not going well for Hansen early this afternoon as he found himself 2-0 down against New Zealander Phil Robertson’s WAKA Racing. But in the 10-12 knot winds and with brilliant sunshine that had encouraged the inhabitants of Marstrand, along with legions of corporate guests, to turn out in force, the defending champion seemed set on extending the racing as long as possible.
Of the first two races he lost, Hanson commented: “We felt in both they had a little bit of an edge in the manoeuvres, but I also managed to put us into a couple of bad situations taking some penalties and doing some bad starts. We were still quite confident going into the third race. We said ‘look at the cliffs – this is what we want, we want to sail five matches here.”
But it was the fifth and deciding match that proved the hardest for Hansen as Robertson was fastest out of the blocks. “We definitely won the start which was a great thing,” recounted the Kiwi skipper. “He got a little bit of an inside puff and managed to hold us out the whole way. In fact we were way past the layline and up to the obstruction line when we had to tack.”
On the long port tack up to the top mark Hansen managed to gain enough ground to luff Robertson and on the second occasion he tried this the umpires felt that Robertson failed to keep clear and awarded him a penalty.
However in just one of numerous encounters on the race course today between the two equally aggressive finalists, a dial down on the second beat resulted in Robertson taking the lead only for him to lose it again just as they came into the top mark for the final time.
Among the estimated 30,000 strong crowd lining Marstrand’s rocky shoreline, a massive cheer went up as Hansen regained the advantage and then proceeded to fend off Robertson down the run to take the deciding point and victory at Stena Match Cup Sweden.
“It was a tough one,” admitted a disappointed Robertson. “We definitely pushed as hard as we could. It was a really really close final with an awesome last race. We are gutted we didn’t win.”
Arriving back in the dock there was huge emotion among Hansen and his crew of Gustav Tempelman, Phillip Kai Guhle, Sebastian Wedel and Mathias Bredin as champagne corks flew and the crews of both finalists ended up taking a welcome plunge into the Marstrand’s cool waters.
“Just look at all these people,” a delighted Hansen enthused. “It is fantastic to be here and with this weather there are even more people on the cliffs. To win here is the most fantastic thing you can do as a Swedish sailor.”
Hansen previously won Stena Match Cup Sweden in 2007 and last year. He reckons he has sailed almost all of them, since the event was first held in 1994. “It is hard to rank them,” Hansen said of his victories. “Just have a look here, with the crowd on the cliffs - we haven’t had this good weather before. All the ingredients came together and coming back from being down 2-0 it was great.”
Despite losing Robertson and his crew very much enjoyed today’s conditions, which with the wind a more moderate 10-12 knots, meant conditions were less survival with crews able to indulge in some more tactical racing. “It was good fun, great racing out there. The race course was perfect – the spectators were amazing. None of them were cheering for us – but that was alright! I haven’t seen a crowd that big before - it was incredible. I didn’t really appreciate it until the third race when the cheer went up as Bjorn crossed first!
“The spectators here are phenomenal – the amount of people who come out to watch and the knowledge they have of match racing is amazing. We love coming here. We look forward to this event every year – it is definitely the best on the Tour.”
In the Petit-Final between Keith Swinton’s Black Swan Racing and Simone Ferrarese’s team it was the Italians who prevailed to take third place – well deserved, the Congressional Cup winner having led out of Qualifying.
The Alpari World Match Racing Tour resumes across the Atlantic on 6th August, with the Chicago Match Cup.
Final results: Bjorn Hansen (SWE) eWork Sailing Team beat Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 3-2
Petit Final results: Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team beat Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 2-0
1 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) eWork Sailing Team 31 points
2 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 28 points
3 Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team 24 points
4 Keith Swinton (AUS) - Black Swan Racing 20 points
5 Ian Williams (GBR) - Team GAC Pindar 17 points
6 Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Alpari FX 15 points
7 Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 12 points
8 Johnie Berntsson (SWE)- Stena Sailing Team 10 points
9 Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) - Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 5 points
10 Mathieu Richard (FRA) GEFCO Match Racing Team 3 points
11 Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 0 points
12 Henrik Eyerman (SWE) Team Henrik Eyerman 0 points
Alpari World Match Racing Tour leaderboard
1 Ian Williams (GBR) - Team GAC Pindar 62
2 Adam Minoprio (NZL) - Team Alpari FX 61
3 Mathieu Richard (FRA) - GEFCO Match Racing Team 53
4 Björn Hansen (SWE) eWork Sailing Team - 48
5 Phil Robertson (NZL) - WAKA Racing 47
6 Taylor Canfield (ISV) - USone 42
7 Keith Swinton (AUS) - Black Swan Racing 39
8 Johnie Berntsson (SWE)- Stena Sailing Team 36
9 Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team 24
10 Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) - Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 16