Canfield still ahead

Four determine their quarter final places at the Alpari World Match Racing Tour's Chicago Match Cup

Thursday September 18th 2014, Author: Dobbs Davis, Location: United States

As the wind came up today so did the tight match racing action in the second day of Qualifying at the Chicago Match Cup, the only US stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. As the boats got faster and faster with the building breeze and waves, so did the competitiveness, as teams fought hard for the top four slots to automatically advance to the next stage of the event.

Securing their Quarter Finals places are defending Chicago Match Cup champion Taylor Canfield (US One), Ian Williams (GAC Pindar), Pierre Antoine Morvan (Vannes Agglo Sailing Team) and Phil Robertson (Waka Racing). The remaining eight teams will try again in tomorrow’s Repechage to take the final four places, while the four victors from today will wait to see who they face in the Quarter Finals.

Today the top two teams from yesterday continued their winning ways and ended up well clear of the field of twelve teams from nine nations. Taylor Canfield (continued to lead the pack from yesterday, achieving a nearly undefeated record by falling only to Phil Robertson and accumulating 10 points.

Next on the leaderboard was Ian Williams, who fell to fellow Tour Card holders Canfield and Bjorn Hansen to score nine points and get his invitation to the next stage. But the remaining two slots could only be determined by tie-break, and only by the results of an intense shoot-out, all-out match in the final flight of Qualifying.

Pierre-Antoine Morvan was not having a great start to Qualifying, coming into the day with only a two points on his scorecard and not looking strong despite impressive winning results in some recent ISAF Grade 2 events in the US in the past month.

But the tide started turning (even here in non-tidal waters) for the French team starting in Flight 10, with successive victories earned against Mathieu Richard  (this would prove fortuitous), then Don Wilson, then Tom Slingsby. After a break in the next two flights, Morvan’s winning ways continued with wins earned against Hansen and Chris Steele, setting themselves up for a final showdown match in the last flight: if they won this match, they would tie Robertson and Richard on 7 points, but since both Morvan and Robertson defeated Richard, then they would go through and leave Richard to fight again in the Repechage.

This critical last match was against Eric Monnin, who was not having a great day on only three wins, but had plenty of fight left in him even at the very end of a long day. It looked as though Morvan would be in control, having won the right side of the first beat, but then a close cross by the Swiss at the first top mark put Morvan behind for the first run to the leeward gate.

Aggressive pumping and sail trim on the run brought Morvan nearly even to Monnin for the next beat, and at the top of the leg the two tangled, leaving Morvan with a penalty and allowing Monin to continue with a slim lead for the final run to the finish.

Morvan would not give up, and impressive downwind pace and positioning put them within striking range of the Swiss, first to one length, then down to one meter, and finally overlapped to leeward. With Rule 17 suspended on the AWMRT, this effectively pinned out Monnin, who was unable to gybe for the finish, and with nothing to lose but his penalty, Morvan drove the pair beyond the layline to the pin.

Monnin tried nonetheless to gybe, collided with Morvan, earning himself a penalty for his efforts, which then offset Morvan’s to wipe the slate clean. But by doing this deliberately to take control at the finish line, Monnin received another penalty, and thereby ceded the match to Morvan.

The Repechage continues tomorrow at 0930.

Stage 4 Chicago Match Race, Alpari World Match Racing Tour - qualifying results

Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 10-1
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 9-2
Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 7-4
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 7-4
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 7-4
Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing 5-6
Tom Slingsby (AUS) Team Tom Slingsby 4-7
Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Team Trifork 4-7
Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 4-7
Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 4-7
Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Sailbox 3-8
Don Wilson (USA) Chicago Match Race Center 2-9

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