Day 3 of the 2023 GKSS Match Cup Sweden wrapped up the quarter-final stage of the event to advance the top four teams to the semi-final.
Five-time winner of the event Björn Hansen/ Extend Commerce Sailing Team and fellow Swede Johnie Berntsson/ Berntsson Sailing Team join USA’s Chris Poole/Riptide Racing and Estonia’s Mati Sepp/ Clean Energy Sailing Team in the semi-final line-up.
This year marks the 29th edition of the iconic Swedish championship stage of the World Match Racing Tour.
As the weather finally cooperated in Marstrand today with bright sunshine and a fresh W/SW 15-20 knot breeze, spectators arriving on the island were treated to an all-action day of racing.
Finishing their last races of the round-robin qualifying stage, USA’s Chris Poole and Denmark’s Jeep Borch/ Borch Racing found themselves in an early collision that entangled both boats and caused a dismasting on Poole’s boat.
“Certainly not how we planned to start the day” commented Poole, “unfortunately these things happen in yacht racing and sadly it was unavoidable on this occasion, but fortunately no one was hurt on either boat.”
Despite the setback, both teams advanced to the semi-final with Borch paired against Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson, and Poole against defending match racing world champion Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL/ Knots Racing).
After losing their first race to Egnot-Johnson/Knots Racing, Poole and his Riptide Racing team found their stride to win their match 2-1 and advance to the semi-final.
Local to the area and well-practised in the Far East 28 race boats, Berntsson defeated Borch 2-1 in the first-to-two-points quarter-final match.
‘It feels good we have levelled up our boat handling” said Berntsson.
“We sailed fast today with some good manoeuvres – Jeppe and his team did a great job pushing us, so we needed to be on our best form. It’s the first time we have made the semis here in Marstrand in front of our home crowd, so now we try for the next step.”
In the other quarter-final matches, local favourite and ‘Master of Marstrand’ Björn Hansen reminded the crowd why he has won the event five times before as he defeated fellow Swede Oscar Engström/ Team Liros 2-0. Hansen is back in Marstrand after an eight-year break from match racing with his long-time crew of Matias Bredin, Phillip Kai Guhle and Nils Bjerkås:
‘I’m very happy with what my crew achieved today” added Hansen. “We had some fantastic manoeuvres and the team really put the boat in the right place, so a big credit to them. We were happy to beat Oscar [Engstrom] too – we practiced together a few weeks ago in Gothenburg and they are very good in these boats, they will definitely be future champions. But it is great to sail again in front of the crowds here in Marstrand and we are thrilled to be back.”
In the last quarter-final pairing between Switzerland’s Eric Monnin/ Capvis Swiss Match Racing and Estonia’s Mati Sepp/ Clean Energy Sailing Team, it was the Estonian’s day to shine as Sepp and crew defeated the Swiss team in two straight wins to secure their spot in the semi-final.
“It feels amazing!” said Sepp. “To reach this stage at such an epic event and hear the big crowd cheer for sailors is very special. We have sailed against Eric in many finals and we have always lost – we have waited 6 years since Match Race Germany 2017 and many regattas since then to beat the team, so it is great to finally have our day.”
The semi-finals and finals complete the event tomorrow with Hansen lined up against Sepp, and Berntsson v Poole for the opening semi-final matches.