Ben Ainslie (GBR) is still undefeated as Argo Group Gold Cup quarter-final racing got underway Friday afternoon with just two flights being completed. Current World Match Race Tour leader Torvar Mirsky (AUS) must win three matches in a row tomorrow to keep his team on the top of the Tour leader board.
Ainslie was behind Mirsky once today in their first race, but put a penalty on him at the second windward mark and went on to win that flight. “The conditions were tough,” Ainslie said. “In the light shifty winds we just had to keep the boat moving.”
Ian Williams (GBR) was behind Johnie Berntsson (SWE) in both races, but managed to come back and win both. “We were on the wrong side of the course several times,” Williams said, “but managed to minimize the losses. When we got the correct side we had stayed close enough to pass.”
After two flights in the quarters today, Eric Monnin leads Blythe Walker in Match 1 by 2-0, Ben Ainslie leads Torvar Mirsky 2-0, Ian Williams leads Johnie Berntsson by 2-0 and Adam Minoprio leads Mathieu Richard 2-0 as well. It is now do or die for all the trailing skippers who face a ‘knockout' when their opponent scores three wins.
There was a pause in match racing Friday afternoon when the quarter-final stage of the World Match Racing Tour event was postponed until Saturday morning. Principal Race Officer David Campbell-Jones explained that the wind was just too light and shifty to have fair racing so late in the day.
So the focus turned towards the the Argo Group Gold Cup Pro-Am fleet racing regatta. The overall winner was Argo Group CEO Mark Watson and Ian Williams sailing with the Argo Group Team of Diana Mitchell and Ryan Brown. Earlier this summer Watson represented the Royal Bermuda YC at the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup regatta in Newport Rhode Island.
Looking back to Friday morning, Repechage Flights 3, 4 and 5 were sailed first to decide the final two of the eight teams that moved up the ladder toward the $50,000 first place prize or even a share of the $100,000 total purse.
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team came through that round robin with a perfect 5-0 score. For that he faced the unbeaten Ben Ainslie in the Match 2 quarter-final. Mirsky is the top ranked skipper on the world Match Racing Tour. Course conditions saw an early light and shifty northerly breeze fill in nicely as the morning racing moved into the second flight of the day. Mirsky was in top form then. He now needs to open his trick bag to win three in a row tomorrow to move past Ainslie.
Bermudian Blythe Walker and his Max Re team pulled a stunning gybe at the finish of his final repechage match against the young Kiwi Phil Robertson. Walker won by just a meter and went 3-2. He faces Eric Monnin (SUI) Search.ch who was first in Group 1 in the first quarter-final Match. Monnin now has two quarter-final points on the board, so Walker also needs three consecutive wins tomorrow to stay on the water.
Quarter-final Match 3 features two Gold Cup champions, Johnie Berntsson and his Berntsson Sailing Team and Ian Williams Team Pindar sponsored by Argo Group. Williams is the reigning champion of the World Match Racing Tour and Berntsson is the reigning Gold Cup champ. Williams jumped out to a clean 2-0 lead to put the defending champion's back to the wall.
Match 4 of the quarter-finals pits Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing skipper Adam Minoprio (NZL) against 2007 King Edward VII Gold Cup winner Mathieu Richard (FRA) representing the French Match Racing Team. Minoprio is the top skipper in the ISAF rankings. Richard finds himself down 0-2 and like the other 0-2 skippers, he must do some fancy sailing to stay alive.
The quarter-final rounds consists of head-to-head match races, with the first skipper to gain three wins, moving into the semifinals. It's filet of feathers from this point on in the Argo group Gold Cup.
Quarter final standings :
QF1 Eric Monnin 2 – Blythe Walker 0
QF2 Ben Ainslie 2 – Torvar Mirsky 0
QF3 Ian Williams 2 – Johnie Berntsson 0
QF4 Adam Minoprio 2 – Mathieu Richard 0
Results from Day 4
Group 4- Repechage
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 5-0
Blythe Walker (BER) 3-2
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team 2-3
Dave Perry (USA) 1-4
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team 1-4
Results from Day 3
Eric Monnin (SUI) Search.ch 6-1
Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar sponsored by Argo Group 6-1
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 4-3
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 4-3
Reuben Corbett (NZL) 3-4
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 2-5
Ian Evans (USA) 1-6
Robbie Allam (GBR) 1-6
Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin 7-0
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing 4-3
Dave Perry (USA) 4-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team 4-3
Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K Challenge 4-3
Rasmus Viltoft (DEN) 3-4
Alvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team 2-5
Paula Lewin Crews (BDA) 0-8
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 6-1
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 6-1
Blythe Walker (BDA) 4-3
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team 4-3
Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team 3-4
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 3-4
Charlie Enright (USA) 1-6
Donald Wilson (USA) 1-6
(After 7 of 9 events)
1. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 88 Points
2. Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 86 Points
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Match Racing Team 72 Points
4. Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 71 Points
5. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar 70 Points
6. Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 48 Points
7. Sebastien Col, (FRA) French Match Racing Team 41 Points
8. Ben Ainslie, (GBR) Team Origin 40 Points.