Hat trick for Hansen
Swedish fans turned out in their thousands to cheer on defending champion, Bjorn Hansen on the way to his claiming a third consecutive victory at the Stena Match Cup Sweden final, on this occasion against Ian Williams and his GAC Pindar crew.
The Swedish team has been raising its game constantly throughout the week. After scraping into the Quarter Finals on Thursday having finished Qualifying in lowly seventh, Hansen had an equally tight run through the Quarter Finals beating Team Alpari FX skipper Keith Swinton, only by 3-2.
Even on 1-1 with US Virgin Islander Taylor Canfield going into the last races of the Semi-Finals this morning, Hansen claimed two races in a row to gain his berth in the finals.
For today’s racing off the west coast of Sweden’s paradise island of Marstrand, the wind was light and blowing, unusually, from the northeast, the opposite way down the fjord to previous days.
In the Finals, Ian Williams got the first point on the board, following a prolonged dog fight. This involved numerous lead changes with Hansen leading around the top mark, then Williams passing him on the second beat to lead from then on.
In the second race, Williams unsuccessfully attempted to shovel Hansen over the line early, allowing the Swede to get the upper hand on the first beat and to round the top mark ahead. The GAC Pindar crew attempted to roll Hansen during a gybe but fell into a light patch allowing the Swedish team extend away. One all.
In race three, the two boats were close up the first beat with Hansen leading around the top mark, Williams just a few metres behind. A dial-down on the second beat resulted in Williams being penalised for not keeping clear, but despite a valiant effort by the British team on the run, the Swedes were too far ahead. 2-1 - advantage Hansen.
In race four, Hansen and his tactician Gustav Tempelman provided a masterclass in sailing the Marstrand fjord, gaining by taking the left side of the first beat to lead GAC Pindar into the top mark with a one boat length advantage which Williams and his crew were unable to recover. Game, set and match to Hansen.
Hansen paid tribute to his crew of Phillip Kai Guhle, tactician Gustav Tempelman, Mathias Bredin and Sebastian Wedel: “It is a privilege to sail with these four guys. I am so proud of them.”
With the tricky offshore breeze, tactician Gustav Tempelman stood out as ‘man of the match’. As Hansen said: “Gustav did a fantastic job - he found wind puffs, which we didn’t think existed. Most of the time we agreed, but I trust him 100% and that allowed me to really focus on getting the boat going which was really critical today because it was so puffy and so shifty.”
Hansen profoundly thanked the huge turn-out of Swedish supporters, who had laid out giant flags on ‘Hansen Hill’ on the rocks on the opposite side of the race track from Marstrand where in turn spectators in their thousands were camped this afternoon along the water’s edge and up on the cliffs to watch the Anglo-Swede bout.
“As soon as we do something well we hear the crowd shouting and if we do something not very good, we hear ‘OH NO’ from the crowd,” Hansen recounted. “When we hooked Taylor [Canfield] this morning, you could hear from the crowd that we were overlapped. I didn’t need to have anyone on the bow calling the overlap!”
While Hansen has now won Stena Match Cup Sweden four times (his first was in 2007), he is still three short of Peter Gilmour’s record.
Ian Williams was gracious in defeat, but admitted it was hard to face Hansen particularly in the last two matches when most shifts had gone his way. “You never know whether he was getting it right or whether he was a bit lucky. The last start was a classic – it was the first time all day that going left worked. He looked like he wanted the left, he got it and when we crossed he was clean ahead. Everything seemed to go his way. All credit to him.”
In the Petit-Finals, Taylor Canfield beat Francesco Bruni 2-0 to claim third place.
From here the Alpari World Match Racing Tour moves on to the new event for this season in Sopot, Poland over 31st July until 3rd August.
Overall results of Stage 2 Stena Match Cup Sweden, Alpari World Match Racing Tour
1 Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team
2 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
3 Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone
4 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa
5 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets
6 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX
7 Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Team Trifork
8 David Gilmour (ASU) Team Gilmour
9 Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing
10 Nicolai Sehested (DEN) Trefor Match Racing
11 Ed Baird (USA) Quantum Racing
12 Magnus Hoimberg (SWE) Team Magnus Holmberg
13Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team
14 Viktor Ogeman (SWE) Team Accure
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone vs Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa 2-0
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa 3-1
Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team vs Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 3-1
2014 Leaderboard Standings after Stage 2
1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 47pts
2 Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 39
3 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 34
4 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 33
5 Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 29
6 Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 20
= Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa 20
= David Gilmour (ASU) Team Gilmour 20