Top ranked sailors race to qualify for Grand Final of JPMorgan Asset Management Winter Challenge 13/2/07
The final qualifier for the JPMorgan Asset Management Winter Challenge Series (9-11 February) produced some of the toughest racing to date. Three of the world’s top match racers battled for the remaining places in the grand final during the three-day event at Queen Mary Reservoir, Staines.
The biggest surprise of the Grade 2 event came from British World Match Racing Tour leader Ian Williams, who failed to reach the semi-finals. Finish sailor Staffan Lindberg, ranked number 10 in the world, took the honours in the round robin series followed closely by world number three Frenchman Matthew Richard. Mark Campbell-James one of Britain’s best match racers took third, and Eric Monnin, ranked 15th from Switzerland stole the remaining semi-final place.
Conditions throughout the weekend were challenging, as the sailors faced a bitterly cold 10 knots on Friday, to very light and variable on Saturday, and gusts of up to 20 knots on Sunday.
The deciding semi-final matches were dynamic. Finland’s Lindberg made a bold impression and won his match, securing his place in the final. The race between Campbell-James and Richard was fierce. With less than a boat length separating them for the whole race, the two teams were caught in massive tacking duels on the upwind legs and hard luffs on the downwind legs. Campbell-James defended hard and looked certain for victory, but Richard broke through on the last gybe just before the finish, stealing the last place in the final.
The final on Sunday saw an international battle between world number three, Richard and world number ten, Lindberg. All matches were incredibly close eventually forcing a third tie-breaking race. The tie-break saw Lindberg trailing early on the first lap, but he made his move, passing at the final windward mark and holding Richard off for the downwind leg to take the victory.
With only the Women’s Final left before the Grand Final (9-11 March), four British sailors Ian Williams, Andy Green, John Greenland and Mark Campbell James have now secured their places. Lindberg (FIN) and Richard (FRA) will join fellow international sailors Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and the only woman to qualifier for the grand final at this stage Claire Leroy (FRA).
Results (Weekend 6)
1 Staffan Lindberg, Magnus Hansson, Jonas Berntsson, Carl-Johan Uckelstam
2 Mathieu Richard, Greg Evrard, Olivier Herledant, Mathieu Renault
3 Eric Monnin, Jean Claude Monnin, Simon Brusser, Marc Monnin, Loris von Siebenthal
4 Mark Campbell James, Dave Mason, Andy Yates, Andy Clark
5 Ian Williams, Mark Williams, Mark Nicholls, Simon Shaw
6 Johnie Berntsson, Bjorn Lundgren, Johan Backman, Martin Berntsson
7 Jure Orel, Kario Hiteljak, Davor Glavina, Ales Bosnik
8 Peter Wibroe, Anton Wester, Chresten Plinius, Phillip Guhle
9 Christian Hamilton, Ed Hill, Maria Stanley, Mark Capps, Charles Osmond
10 Rasmus Viltoft, Christian Leblank, Martin Olsen, Morten Flamand
Women’s Final (23-25 Feb)
Final (9-11 March)