Five crews are within one victory of the lead halfway through the round robin of the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia

After nine of 17 scheduled flights of the inaugural Monsoon Cup, the celebratory 50th event of the Swedish Match Tour, there are five skippers in a logjam at the top of the standings.

The leader depends on whether you consider total wins as the basis for leading or winning percentage. And then there are tiebreakers to consider.

If you choose winning percentage then there’s a three way tie for the lead. Crews led by Chris Dickson (BMW Oracle Racing), Peter Gilmour (PST) and Staffan Lindberg (Alandia Sailing Team) all have four wins in five races, a winning rate of 80 per cent. The three haven’t raced each other yet. If you go for total wins then Ian Williams (Williams Racing Team) is the event leader. Williams’ 5-2 record is good for a winning rate of 71 per cent. Magnus Holmberg (Victory Challenge) is also 5-2, but Williams holds the tiebreak advantage after yesterday’s come-from-behind win in Flight 2.

The 50th event of the Swedish Match Tour is offering great racing, and the regatta isn’t even out of the round robin stage yet. “Today was a thoroughly enjoyable day of racing,” said Tour director Scott MacLeod, who prefers number of wins as the basis for leading. “There was everything to like; lead changes, penalties and the sultan racing.” The Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, sailed two races with Gilmour. They won against Thierry Peponnet and lost against Dean Barker. “He’s a charming man,” said Gilmour. “He realised it’s a sporting situation and said to sail the boat as we have to. I think he finds peace on the water. He asked to do another race after the first one. He’s enthused by sailing. I think we have a sailor on our hands.”

The sultan was treated to some classic ‘crash’ Gilmour racing in their match against Peponnet. The Frenchman who is skipper of the K-Challenge syndicate got an early lead on the reigning two-time Tour champion by playing the left side of the first leg. Gilmour, however, held starboard tack approaching the windward mark. Peponnet seemed to be just crossing, but Gilmour hunted him down as they converged. Gilmour clipped Peponnet’s transom, which pushed the bow of the port-tack boat down and into the windward mark. The umpires issued three penalties, two to Gilmour. “We gave a penalty to Gilmour for breaking Rule 16, a right-of-way boat altering course,” said Chief Umpire John Standley, who umpired the match. “We also gave a penalty to Peponnet for hitting the mark. But Gilmour gained an advantage so we gave him a second penalty. It was fairly straightforward.” Gilmour stretched enough of a lead over the next lap and a half to perform his penalty turn on the finish line and win. But afterwards apologies were flying on his boat. “I apologized to the sultan,” Gilmour said, “but he said don’t worry, it was the most fun of the race.”

The Gilmour-Peponnet match wasn’t the only with contact. Williams and Dickson rubbed gunwales, while Coutts and Peponnet also got up close and personal. So far in the event the umpires have had 48 requests for calls from competitors and 24 penalties have been issued. “That’s a high proportion,” said Standley. “It shows the sailors aren’t putting up questionable Y flags.”

Just over half of the 17 scheduled flights have been completed. Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio said he had hoped to complete 10 flights by this time. After the round robin the top eight advance to the quarterfinals while the bottom four are eliminated.

The round robin is scheduled to resume tomorrow at 1000 am.