Two days ago, Adam Minoprio's dream of winning the World Match Race Tour championship looked to be over. His team of young New Zealanders had faltered in the round robin elimination series of the Monsoon Cup, the last event on the 2009 tour of nine regattas.
While they had gone into the Monsoon Cup, the final regatta of the tour, with a 12-point lead, they just scraped into the eighth spot in the quarter finals with a five win/six loss score.
Yesterday Minoprio's Team New Zealand Black Match won the world championship trophy by achieving an unbeatable tour points score lead in the quarter finals stage of the Monsoon Cup.
They beat Mathieu Richard's French team 3-0 in their quarter final while nearest World Tour opponents, WA sailor Torvar Mirsky's team of youngsters were eliminated, going down 1-3 to Mirsky's Perth mentor Peter Gilmour.
Minoprio's team went straight on to defeat the 2009 Monsoon Cup winner Gilmour 3-1 in the semi-final and today will meet British sailor Ben Ainslie's Team Origin in the final.
Minoprio, who is 24, with fellow graduates from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Youth Training Academy, Daniel McLean, Tom Powrie, David Swete and Nigel Blackman, formed the Black Match team in 2005 and sailed successfully in Australasian events.
After completing his studies for a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Auckland University, Minoprio with his sailing friends decided on the World Match Tour for their gap year break. It's been two years, really, while they sailed seriously on the 2008 and 2009 Tour circuit.
Minoprio said the World Tour win was “amazing”.
“It's beyond our wildest dreams. We started to make match racing seriously four years ago with the plan of winning the match racing tour in 2010.
“Things just seemed to fall into place a lot earlier and this year we had a chance to really go for it and achieve our goals a year earlier.
“A couple of months ago we achieved number one position in the ISAF match race rankings, which is fantastic for us. I think we are only the second Kiwi team to do that.”
Minoprio said “silly little mistakes” in the round robin had jeopardised its chances. “But we came back in the quarter finals with none of those mistakes, which is how we like to sail.”
Beating the Australian veteran Gilmour in the semis was a career milestone. Minoprio said before the semis, “This will be the third year in a row that we have raced Peter Gilmour in a knockout series in the Monsoon Cup. The first year he won 3-2 in the quarter finals; last year he won 3-1 in the final, so hopefully the semi final is where we should take him.”
New variables of river current, tidal influence and wind direction created more strategic options in the Monsoon Cup racing on the Duyong Basin of the Terengganu River yesterday.
At times the left-hand side of the course paid dividends; at times the right. The breeze, while varying between north-east and north, stayed light to moderate. Big gains were made by those who hit on the random variables at the right time.
Quarter final: Ben Ainslie (Great Britain) defeated Damien Iehl (France) 3-0, Sebastien Col (France) d Phil Robertson (New Zealand) 3-2, Adam Minoprio (New Zealand) d Mathieu Richard (France) 3-0, Peter Gilmour (Australia) d Torvar Mirsky (Australia) 3-1.
Semi final: Ainslie d Col 3-2; Minoprio d Gilmour 3-1.
– Bob Ross