Williams sails Ainslie in semi-finals at the Allianz Cup match racing event in San Francisco 29/10/06

Ian Williams of Team Pindar will today continue his battle against fellow British sailor Ben Ainslie in the semi-finals of the Allianz Cup Presented by Oracle. The final day of this closely contested event will be fought in San Francisco Bay in front of crowds of thousands.

Williams won his place in the semi-finals yesterday after winning three nail-biting races against triple World Match Racing Tour champion Peter Gilmore (AUS). Tied 1-1 with Ben Ainslie after sailing two races in a best of five series, ‘Team Pindar’ goes into the closing day knowing that only one British team can proceed into the finals.

Ian and his team of brother Mark, Bill Hardesty, Gerry Mitchell and Chresten Plinius beat veteran match racing supreme Peter Gilmore in a 3-1 quarter-final round on Saturday. Raced in patchy light breeze and bright sunshine the quarter-finals provided tight racing off the St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco.

The first two flights of the British battle in the semi-final competition began on Saturday afternoon, with Team Pindar up against Ben Ainslie, the America’s Cup afterguard sailor and double Olympic gold medallist. A tense battle ensued, with a number of penalties being handed out by on-the-water umpires in the first race but it was Williams who came out on top.

Race two saw another tight finish, with the lead changing hands three times during the last downwind leg. Team Pindar must now win just two more races to confirm their place in the finals of the Allianz Cup presented by Oracle. Ed Baird (USA) currently holds the upper hand in his semi-final against Jesper Bank (DAN) for the other place in the finals.

Williams commented: “We had a great day’s racing here today with some really close matches against both Peter and Ben. Gilly [Peter Gilmore] has been something of a nemesis for us this year – it is the first time I have ever beaten him in a finals competition so I was really pleased with our quarter-finals performance. There was a lot of tussling in our first match against Ben, with loads of flag waving from the umpires, but eventually on the final run we were able to equalise the penalty that we owed and sail through to win. The semis are shaping up to be fantastic racing and hopefully have been good for spectators too – bring it on tomorrow!”