Ben Ainslie and his crew take overall season victory at the final event in Malaysia
Britain’s Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN has won his first ISAF Match Racing World Championship title by winning the Monsoon Cup on a day of high drama in Malaysia. The three-time Olympic gold medalist was in imperious form at the deciding regatta having staged a stunning late season charge to snatch the title from the clutches of long time series leader Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team.
In what was the most enthralling ever finish to the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) the Ainslie v Richard duel went to the very final day of the final event of the season. Having turned the screws on Richard all week, Ainslie knew that if he won his Semi-Final and Richard failed to win his play-off race then the title would be his.
Ainslie’s illustrious crew has been in such pressure situations many times before and the experience clearly showed. Their 2-0 victory over Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team sparked celebrations among the TEAMORIGIN crew, which includes two-time Olympic gold medalist Iain Percy, Christian Kamp, Mike Mottl and Matt Cornwell.
With the World title in the bag there was still unfinished business with the Tour’s richest final at stake. Ainslie and his crew kept their composure for an epic final against Australian star Torvar Mirsky of Mirsky Racing Team. The confident young skipper reached the final with consummate ease, defeating Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing 2-0 in their Semi-Final.
It was a fitting finale to an enthralling 2010 World Match Racing Tour, with nail-biting match racing that went to the wire: Mirsky recovered from a shaky start to take the first race by a comfortable margin. But Ainslie was 11 seconds ahead at the finish of the second. After four races the score was again even, leaving everything hanging on the fifth, which went in Ainslie’s favour.
Commenting on his landmark victory, Ainslie said: “It was obviously a great way for us to end as a team. It was very tough out there today but it was a united effort and we’re really happy all round. For the whole team this has been massive for us. We’ve enjoyed been on the Tour an incredible amount.”
For Richard it was a disappointing end to what had been a fantastic season in which he led the Tour from the opening race at Match Race France in April. Two further wins followed at the Korea Match Cup and the St Moritz Match Race. However a mid-season blip and a stuttering finish to the year with poor performances in Bermuda and then finally Malaysia have cost Richard dearly, leaving him in second place in the Championship.
Richard reflected: “Obviously it’s a huge disappointment to have finished second in the Championship, having been first all season. Ben has a very strong team and they really deserve to be World Champions. I was happy with our preparation for this event and we sailed a fantastic season, making the podium five times. It’s a year we can be really proud of.”