Wild Card entry Eric Monnin turned on the afterburners on day 3 of the Monsoon Cup Malaysia to be sitting on match point against Phil Robertson for a place in the Semi-Finals.
The Swiss skipper could scarcely believe how well the day had gone. Somehow Monnin made sense of the often random and shifty conditions in Johor Bahru to score a perfect day on the water. “Looking back this morning, we had just 2 points from two days. Today we won all our six matches and have three match points in our hands. A great day for us. There’s still snow in Switzerland, we haven’t had any practice time for match racing, so every day we sail here makes us feel stronger.”
Having come through Qualifying in 3rd place, Robertson picked Monnin as his opponent, a choice the defending champion from the Monsoon Cup might be regretting as he looks down the barrel of a Quarter-Final exit from this year’s event, the finale of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. The ever-frank Kiwi admitted he sailed “like a lemon” today. “Haven’t had the best day to be honest,” said the skipper of WAKA Racing. “Tried to sink two boats. Same situation, different races, so there’s two holes in two boats, courtesy of myself. And it didn’t get much better in the Quarter Finals. But my team likes a battle, being put on the back foot. The situation’s the same: still got to win three races, just no mistakes, and I think we can do that.”
Earlier in the day, the conclusion of Qualifying saw the departure of four teams: the two event Qualifiers from Malaysia and Singapore, skippered respectively by Jeremy Koo and Maxi Soh, and two Swedish teams. Winner of last October’s Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda, Johnie Berntsson was a late call-up for a Wild Card and said his timing and boathandling had suffered because of Stena Sailing Team’s lack of practice. The biggest surprise was to see the other Swedish team skippered by Bjorn Hansen making an early exit. He too put his problems down to a lack of match race training since Bermuda.
The much-awaited match in Qualifying was between the two dominant teams of recent years, Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar versus Taylor Canfield’s US One. Even on the first beat there were multiple lead changes as the fickle breeze smiled on one crew and then the other. Towards the top of the first leg, Canfield engaged Williams in a luff, lowering his jib. However when the breeze shifted mid-manoeuvre, Canfield was caught short while Williams powered away in a small gust. “We were a bit greedy,” said US One’s Hayden Goodrick. “We should have been a bit more patient and waited for our next moment to attack.” GAC Pindar’s Chris Main couldn’t believe how quickly the advantage went their way. “The whole thing lasted just a few seconds but suddenly we had a few boatlengths’ lead and that was enough for the match.”
It was a crucial match that Canfield really wanted to win, as topping Qualifying would have given them options, whereas leaving Williams clear to top the leaderboard allowed the Briton to have first choice of opponent. The British sailor shares the record of four world titles with Peter Gilmour, now retired from professional match racing. So Williams picked the younger Gilmour, David, as his Quarter Final duellist. The GAC Pindar skipper was merciless in the start of both matches, forcing the young Australian over the line in both starts and winning with ease.
Not to be outdone, Canfield was similarly brutal with his chosen opponent, Wild Card entry Pierre-Antoine Morvan, also going 2-0 up. With Monnin v Robertson also on 2-0, the only evenly balanced Quarter Final is between Mathieu Richard and Keith Swinton who sit on 1-1. The Australian skipper is happy just to be racing after being laid low the previous day with a bug. “I feel a lot better than this time yesterday, feel like I’m on an upward curve. Ricky [McGarvie, Swinton’s bowman] was even more ill than I was, was at hospital for quite a bit longer. They put him on a drip, and this morning he was still feeling average. So, thanks to Jeremy Koo for lending us Don McCracken for a race. We held on and we’re happy to get to the Quarters.”
Swinton might feel he deserves to be 2-0 up on Richard, but a gust from heaven brought the LunaJets team right back into contention as the French sailed past the Australians for a lucky victory. “Yes, we were lucky,” shrugged Richard, “but it is the same as what happened to us when Taylor Canfield came from behind in our Qualifying match.” Lady Luck is certainly playing a strong part in the proceedings, but when you look at the likes of the hot favourites – Williams and Canfield – continuing to dominate, it’s hard to argue that it’s the deciding factor. Ride your luck and hammer home your advantage, without mercy. That’s what the top dogs are doing in their scrap for the glory and prize money up for grabs at this concluding event of the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour.
The Quarter Finals continue at 1000 local time (UTC +8) on Friday and can be watched live via the Tour’s Livestream page http://new.livestream.com/
Watch full replay of Qualifying Session 3 and Quarter Finals onhttps://new.livestream.com/
2015 Monsoon Cup Malaysia Stage 7 – Season Finale 2014/15 Alpari World Match Racing Tour
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar bt David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 2-0
Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One bt Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 2-0
Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBox bt Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 2-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets vs Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 1-1
Final Results of Qualifying
1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 10-1
2 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 10-0
3 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 8 (7.5)-3 (0.5 point deducted for damage)
4 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 7-4
5 Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 6-5
6 Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBox 6-5
7 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 6 (5)-5 (1 point deducted for damage)
8 David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 5-6
9 Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 4-7
10 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 3-8
11 Maximilian Soh (SIN) Team Red Dot 1-10
12 Jeremy Koo (MAS) Sime Darby Foundation / 1 Malaysia Match Racing Team 0 (-0.5)-11 (0.5 point deducted for damage)