The young guns from Australia were showing the more experienced teams the way round the race course today on day four of the World Match Racing Tour Fremantle. Sam Gilmour set the tone for an unpredictable day on Bather’s Bay when the local Australian sailor beat reigning World Champion Ian Williams from Great Britain in their opening match. That kind of upset didn’t happen very often in the keelboat era.
It was a blast from the past to see a Williams v Gilmour match, even if this Gilmour – Sam – is the less experienced son of the legendary Aussie match racer Peter Gilmour. The Gilmour v Williams match races of past decades were aggressive affairs in keelboats.
Today’s battle was in high-speed M32 catamarans, and Sam Gilmour showed a clean pair of heels to Williams off the start line of match 2. It looked like the young Australian was going to take Williams to match point, but a tactical error – undertacking the layline – handed the lead to GAC Pindar. From then on Williams was unstoppable and went through to the Quarter Finals 3-1.
Some other young Antipodeans gave their more experienced rivals from overseas a similar scare. New Zealand’s Chris Steele took a match off regatta favourite Taylor Canfield before US One hit their stride to win the next two and sit on match point going into tomorrow. Australia’s Evan Walker took two matches off Mattias Rahm before the Swede managed to beat the younger team in their deciding match. Royal Perth Yacht Club’s Steve Thomas smashed and grabbed the first match off Nicolai Sehested, but the Danish skipper bounced back with three straight wins.
So by and large, the more experienced overseas teams did squeak through to the Quarters, but not Nicklas Dackhammar who fell 3-0 to local talent Matt Jerwood. The harsh scoreline doesn’t really tell the full story though, as the Swede who had been so fast the previous day in the strong conditions of the Fremantle Doctor was dogged by some unfortunate gear failure in match one.
Dackhammar was leading the first match when a badly executed gybing furl forced him to park up at the bottom of the course and let Jerwood slip by for an easy win. The second match was a non starter as Dackhammer sustained damage to his boat in the pre-start and was unable to complete the race, handing the victory to Jerwood to trail 0-2. In the deciding match, Jerwood beat Dackhammar fair and square. “We rode our luck today,” admitted Jerwood, “but we’re very happy with how we sailed too. We’re over the moon. We woke up this morning and we thought if we could put it together we could beat him. We’re going to go out tomorrow with the same attitude and see what we can do.”
Rahm was breathing a sigh of relief after beating Walker in a tense battle. “We were trying to be aggressive in the pre-start and on the race course – and it was getting us into trouble,” said the Swede who has plenty of M32 fleet racing experience, but for whom today was a baptism of M32 match racing as much as it was for the other 15 teams. “After the first race we decided to keep it simple, rely on sailing fast and clean, and that worked much better for us. We’ll be starting tomorrow with the same approach when we line against Ian Williams. He’s the reigning world champion, but racing in these boats is a new game for everyone so we’re confident we can give him a good battle.”
Another Swede with good experience of the M32 – Olympic silver medallist Hans Wallén – overcame Switzerland’s Eric Monnin to go through to the Quarter Finals. France’s Yann Guichard sits on match point after beating Western Australia’s hottest match racing talent Keith Swinton 2-0. New Zealander Phil Robertson will be kicking himself that he isn’t sitting on match point after gifting Australian Murray Jones a point when the more experienced Kiwi wrapped his M32 around the leeward mark whilst in a comfy lead. Instead Robertson and his crack squad sit on 1-1 against the up-and-coming Jones.
It has been that kind of day, a shake-up of the old order in match racing. By and large, experience has shone through, but not without a few scary moments along the way. As for Jerwood, he’s rubbing shoulders with the big boys tomorrow when we see who can muscle their way out of the Quarter Finals and into the final four.
Results after Day 4
Through to the Quarter Finals;
Matt Jerwood (AUS) beat Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE) 3-0
Ian Williams (GBR) beat Sam Gilmour (AUS) 3-1
Mattias Rahm (SWE) beat Evan Walker (AUS) 3.5-2
Hans Wallén (SWE) beat Eric Monnin (SUI) 3-1
Nicolai Sehested (DEN) beat Steve Thomas (AUS) 3-1
Remaining Round of 16 matches;
Taylor Canfield (ISV) v Chris Steele (NZL) 2-1
Yann Guichard (FRA) v Keith Swinton (AUS) 2-0
Phil Robertson (NZL) v Murray Jones (AUS) 1-1