The world's top match racing skippers are in full preparation for next week's season finale of the 2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour in Malaysia - The Monsoon Cup running over 25-30 November. Any one of the top six teams on the Tour leaderboard can still clinch the Championship with a $500,000 prize purse up for grabs at the event.
Taylor Canfield (ISV) and his USone team currently lead the Tour rankings into the last event with a 10 point lead over defending Tour Champion Ian Williams (GBR) and his GAC Pindar team. Williams made a brave move at the penultimate Tour Stage in Bermuda choosing to race Canfield in the Quarter Final to mitigate the USone teams' championship advantage going into the last event. However, it was not to be and Canfield beat Williams to finish 3rd in Bermuda and now tops the Alpari Tour leaderboard with 92 points, 10 points ahead of Williams.'
Although Williams has Francesco Bruni (ITA) of America's Cup team Luna Rossa to thank for limiting the damage in Bermuda, Williams is now in a familiar place having been second on the leader board at this point last year, and he knows the Quarter Finals in Malaysia will be key. If Canfield makes it to the Semi Finals, but not the Finals next week, then Williams will have to win the event to claim a record breaking fifth Alpari World Match Racing Tour and ISAF World Championship. If Canfield makes the Finals then the Championship is his.
But both skippers will have their work cut out for them in Malaysia as just 26 points separate the top 6 skippers on the leaderboard , all of whom are in contention for the title.
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USOne. Ranking – 1 (92pts)
Crew: Hayden Goodrick, Rod Dawson, Mike Rehe, Dan Morris
Taylor Canfield is one of the brightest match racers on the Tour since joining the Tour in 2010. As the Sailing Director at the Chicago Match Race Center, he devotes his career to match racing full time. His participation within competitive sailing this year has ranked him 1st in the ISAF Match Race Rankings. His participation on the 2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour has been impressive, where he’s gained three-podium finishes. He finished second in Korea Match Cup, won the Chicago Match Cup on home ground and also finished third at the penultimate event, the Argo Group Gold Cup. Holding his position as the No1 on the leaderboard, his aim is to defend his Monsoon Cup crown and claim his first ISAF Match Racing World Championship title.
Ian Willams (GBR) GAC Pindar. Ranking – 2 (82pts)
Crew: Gerard Mitchell, Mal Parker, Bill Hardesty, Matt Cassidy
Ian Williams is no new comer to this event having raced in every edition. The four time ISAF Match Racing World Champion has won back to back World titles in 2007-2008 and 2011-2012 and won both awards – the Monsoon Cup and the World Championship in 2008 and 2011. Williams had a very encouraging start to 2013 winning Stage 1, Match Race Germany but with only one subsequent podium finish on the 2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour season, Williams needs to regain his form on the waters of Kuala Terengganu to end his season in style. With only a 10 point difference to first place, the World Championship title is within his grasp, which, if he was able to win, would make it a record breaking 5th time for Williams and the GAC Pindar crew.
Bjorn Hansen: (SWE) eWork Sailing Team. Ranking – 3 (81pts)
Crew: Gustav Tempelman, Phillip Kai Guhle, Sebastian Wedel, Mathias Bredin
Bjorn Hansen is considered to be one of the sailing legends of Scandinavia. He started match racing in 1994 and since then he has been a permanent fixture in the top 10 on the ISAF Rankings. Hansen is also a veteran on the Tour and known as a tenacious and tricky opponent, especially at his favorite venues, one of which is Kuala Terenggnau. After wining on home ground at Stena Match Cup Sweden this year, the third time since 2007 Hansen will be targeting the Monsoon Cup the Season Finale of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Hansen and his eWork Sailing Team have got their eyes on the prize and are bringing their A game to town.
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Alpari FX. Ranking – 4 (77pts)
Crew: Chris Main, Tom Powrie, David Swete, Nick Blackman
After a successful year with Camper on the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 season, Adam Minoprio is back into professional match racing on the Tour. He has a good history at the Monsoon Cup – winning the Asian Qualifying Series in 2007, a qualifier to the event and two years later winning the ISAF Match Racing World Championships at the age of 24 – the youngest ever to win the championship. Pulling back together 3 of his World Championship winning crew plus the experience of Chris Main, he brings back his style of aggressive match racing and cunning tactics. A style that has seen him advance to the Quarter Final stages and beyond throughout this season. Holding 4th on the Tour leaderboard he’s in a great position to leap frog the current leaders and take home the World Championship trophy for a second time.
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing. Ranking – 5 (75pts)
Crew: Olof Lundgren, Ted Hackney, Jakob Gustafsson, Ricky McGarvie
After finishing 4th on the Tour last year, missing the podium by a whisker, Keith Swinton is back on Tour and ready to take a step up. His passion for sailing goes back to the age of eight and the list of competitions, classes and achievements under his belt belies his age. His performances this year have steadily improved over the season. As the frontman of Black Swan Racing he picked up his game at Stage 4, Chicago Match Cup finishing second behind Taylor Canfield in a thrilling 5 match final on Lake Michigan. Taking out the World Championship may be a big ask for Swinton but he knows the boats and as he has regularly showed he can still cause havoc amongst the other title contenders.
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing. Ranking – 6 (66pts)
Crew: Garth Ellingham, James Williamson, Nick Catley, Adam Martin
Phil Robertson made his debut in 2011 as a Tour Card Holder on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. With a consistent team over three seasons, his WAKA Racing team has pulled off some tremendous results on the Tour this season. At Stena Match Cup Sweden, Stage 3 of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour this year, he finished second, coming so close to taking out Swedish sailing legend, Bjorn Hansen. WAKA Racing put together an outstanding performance but lost to Hansen in the 5th,and last, match of the finals. With a great sense of humor and playful tactics on the water, he can be fun but never to be underestimated. The King of the Late Charge can deliver quite a sting to his opponents and is very capable of taking it all the way to the finals.
Mathieu Richard (FRA) GEFCO Match Racing Team. Ranking – 7 (53pts)
Crew: Greg Evrard, Thierry Briend, Olivier Herledant, François Verdier
Mathieu Richard is back on competitive form this season. Though not having a Tour Card for 2013, the team qualified to the Season Finale of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour by securing 7th place on the leaderboard after the penultimate event of the Tour. Richard had a flying start finishing third at the season opener, Match Race Germany and then came back to win the Korea Match Cup for the second time, but poor performances in Sweden and Bermuda will see him eyeing the podium and looking for a Monsoon Cup win. He currently holds seven event titles since he joined the tour in 2007 and finished in second place overall on the 2010 Tour.
Johnie Bertsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team. Ranking – 8 (41pts)
Crew: Johan Barne, Oscar Angervall, Martin Berntsson, Bjorn Lundgren
2012 Swedish Sailor of the Year, Johnie Berntsson is one of the most respected sailors among the Tour Card Holders. His team came together in 1997 and have been amongst the top group on the match racing ladder ever since. The Stena Sailing Team had a great to their 2013 campaign but have endured a bumpy ride ever since with near misses at the Quarter Final stages in Korea and Sweden. In 2011 he finished second in the Monsoon Cup which bounced him up to a third place finish on the overall Tour standings. With lack of consistency in the 2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour season, the pressure will be off Berntsson and his Stena Sailing Team but the smiling assassin still carries the formula to win and will stir up the current leaders at the Monsoon Cup.
Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Angglo Sailing Team. Ranking – 9 (33pts)
Crew: Cédric Chateau, Steven Liorzou, Mathieu Renault, Pierre-Alexis Ponsot
Pierre Antoine Morvan discovered competitive match racing in 2003 while studying at the University of Rennes. As a first time Tour Card Holder in 2012, he finished sixth overall but is looking to better that this year and needs a finals result to do that. Known as the Cool Frenchman, Morvan and his Vannes Angglo Sailing Team also compete at a host of other graded match racing events around the world alongside their Tour commitments. A fierce competitor, Morvan will be looking to put in a big performance and turn the pecking order on its head during the Qualifying session at theMonsoon Cup.
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa. Ranking – 10 (25)
Crew: Pierluigi de Felice, Max Sirena, Xabier Fernandez, Nick Hutton
Runner up on the 2011 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, the name Franceso Bruni needs no further introduction. After taking on the role of tactician on-board Luna Rossa for the 34th America’s Cup this year, Bruni is back on the helm to throw all his match racing experience onto the waters of Kuala Terengganu. His comeback made the headlines when he out of his skin to win the Argo Group Gold Cup, the penultimate event of the Tour Series loosing only 3 matches throughout the competiton. This made him the first Italian to lift the King Edward VII Gold Cup one of the most prestigious trophies in competitive match racing. The Luna Rossa team are now gearing up again, to get their hands on the Monsoon Cup trophy and a share of the biggest prize purse in sailing.
David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour. Ranking – 13 (12)
Crew: William Mackenzie, Luke Payne, Peter Nicholas, 5th crew TBC
Wild Card David Gilmour is a rising star on the Match Racing scene having formed Team Gilmour in 2010 at the Warren Jones Youth Regatta he has seen a steady rise on the ISAF Match Race Rankings taking event wins at the 2012 Warren Jones, 2013 Korea Match Cup Qualifier, 2013 Detroit Cup along the way. A win at the 2013 ISAF Nations Cup has been the highlight of Team Gilmour’s year so far. The Monsoon Cup Wild Card is well earned as 7th place finishes in Korea this year and at the Monsoon Cup last year show that he has the skills and controlled aggression required to take on the best of the best. Team Gilmour are sure to add some spice to the Qualifying stage and beyond this year.
Jeremy Koo Wui Ken (MAL) Koo Racing Team. Liga Layar Champion (Malaysian Qualifier Event)
Crew: Sean Ong Khong Shing, Mohd Fauzi Mustaffa, Lool Sing Yew, Shahrizal Hashim
Jeremy Koo is considered one of the most experienced sailors in Malaysia. He started sailing at the age of 9, and throughout his sailing career he has won numerous dinghy regattas in Asia. He started match racing in year 2006 with Team China, competing in the 32nd America’s Cup and Elba Island Match Racing, and he went on to crew for his sister in the same year for The Monsoon Cup.
After forming a team in 2009, he has been leading the sailing scene for Malaysia with participation in the China Cup Racing One Design 40’s, 2013 Korean Match Cup Qualifier finishing second, winning the Hong Kong Nautica Typhoon Series and finishing third in the China Coast Sea Race.
This year, his team proved they were unstoppable as they sailed their way through to win for the forth-consecutive time in the Malaysian Qualifying Series and book their ticket to the Monsoon Cup 2013. As the helmsman of Koo Racing Team, he is looking forward to do his best again for his own country the host of The Monsoon Cup.