Ian Williams and team clinch second place at Auckland Match Racing Cup 29/1/07

Ian Williams of Team Pindar, Britain’s most promising match racer this weekend secured second place at New Zealand’s prestigious match racing event, the Auckland Match Racing Cup. Battling against some of the world’s best America’s Cup sailors in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, Williams and his team of Laurie Jury, Graeme Sutherland, Stu Molloy and Sam Tucker sailed an exciting final against Dean Barker, the defending champion, in the culminating races of the regatta.

Williams ended three days of preliminary round-robin racing at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron with a superb 13 wins from 18 races, tied with Kiwi America’s Cup helmsman Dean Barker and Frenchman Mathieu Richard. Richard is Williams’ closest rival on the current World Match Racing Tour rankings. During the semi-final round, where the two went head to head in a fickle breeze with a strong current, Williams fought off and beat Richard by three races to two.

In a best of three final held on Sunday afternoon, Team Pindar won the first race from Barker after a well-sailed pre-start, and held their lead to the finish. Having lost race two and therefore tied with Barker one race apiece, Williams entered the nail-biting deciding race with vigour. The concluding race was exceptionally close with Barker finishing the race just three-boat lengths ahead of Team Pindar.

Williams is currently leading the World Match Racing Tour and lies second in the ISAF Match Race Rankings. No Briton has ever been ranked higher on the open ISAF ladder, or ever led the World Match Racing Tour before.

Williams commented: “I’m really pleased to have finished up in second place among such a strong field, with several America’s Cup teams represented here. To beat the likes of James Spithill and Mathieu Richard with a team who have only been together a few days, while they’ve been sailing with their regular crew is extremely satisfying. In the end though, during the final Dean showed the advantages of time together as a team and was a little slicker in the tight situations than we were.”