British sailor Ian Williams and team win match racing Gold Cup in Bermuda 16/10/06

Ian Williams of Great Britain has won the 58th annual King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-1 defeat of Frenchman Mathieu Richard.

Williams won the first two races, dropped the third and then closed out the series in the fourth race with a one boatlength victory yesterday. He and crew Bill Hardesty (bow and tactics), Gerry Mitchell (headsails) and Mark Nicholls (mainsail) finished with a 13-6 record and won $25,000 of the $50,000 prize purse.

“There’ve been moments this week where I’ve lost it and didn’t know what was going on,” said Williams, 29, of Hamble, England. “My crew kept me going at all times. It’s just fantastic to have finally won one.”

Chatting about the shifty conditions on the last day Williams added: “We seemed to have the timing better than Mathieu today. In the end I think Mathieu sailed a little faster than us around the course, but we won four out of four starts. And from there, with those shifts out there, you do that and you can pick your own shifts. One race we got it wrong, but the other three we got it right.”

The win moves Williams into first place in the Match Racing World Championship standings with 35 points. He leads Richard by 5 points. The events of the World Tour determine the ISAF Match Racing World Champion, who will be crowned in December 2007. A total of 15 events comprise the 2006-’07 World Tour schedule.

Richard, sailing with longtime crewmembers Greg Evrard (mainsail and tactics), Olivier Herledant (headsails) and Yannick Simon (bow) finished with a 13-4 record and won $10,000. They entered the final as the hottest team in the competition with just one loss in 13 starts, but Williams was too tough.

In the Petite Final, Bermudian Blythe Walker gave the hometown crowd a reason for celebration when he defeated Eric Monnin of Switzerland, 3-2, to finish third overall. Walker and crew Carola Cooper (bow), Somers Kempe (headsails) and Adam Barboza (mainsail and tactics) finished with a 10-10 record and won $5,000.

Match Racing World Championship Standings
After Stage 4 of 15
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Sail Racing, 35 points
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 30 points
3. Sébastian Col (FRA) Areva Challenge, 29 points
4. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, 27 points
5. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Viano Mercedes Benz, 25 points
T. Chris Dickson (NZL) BMW ORACLE Racing, 25 points
7. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 22 points
8. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 20 points
T. Jesper Bank (DEN) United Internet Team Germany, 20 points
T. Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge, 20 points

King Edward VII Gold Cup Final Results
Prize Purse: $50,000
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Sail Racing, 13-6, $25,000
(Crew: Bill Hardesty, Gerry Mitchell, Mark Nicholls)
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 13-4, $10,000
(Crew: Greg Evrard, Olivier Herledant, Yannick Simon)
3. Blythe Walker (BER), 10-10, $5,000
(Crew: Adam Barboza, Carola Cooper, Somers Kempe)
4. Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Monnin, 9-11, $3,500
(Crew: Simon Brugger, Fabien Froesch, Alain Marchand, Marc Monnin)
5. James Spithill (AUS) Luna Rossa Challenge, 10-4, $2,750
(Crew: Magnus Augustson, Torben Grael, Christian Kamp)
6. Björn Hansen (SWE) Team, 8-6, $2,000
(Crew: Martin Angsell, Pontus Meijer, Johan Tempelman)
7. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 8-6, $1,250
(Crew: Nils Bjerkas, Robert Skarp, Carl-Johan Uckelstam)
8. Chris Law (GBR) The Outlaws, 5-7, $500
(Crew: Karl Anderson, Mark Ivey, Scott Norris)

Final Round
Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Sail Racing, 3
Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 1

Petite Final
Blythe Walker (BER), 3
Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Monnin, 1