Mathieu Richard defeated arch rival Adam Minoprio in the match of the year today, booking his place in the last eight
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team showed his mettle today by defeating arch rival Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing in the match of the year. The result means the Frenchman earns his place in the Quarter-Finals of the Monsoon Cup and also moves one step closer to winning the ISAF Match Racing World Championship.
After a fascinating second Qualifying Session yesterday left both skippers at the heart of a scramble to make it to the next round, it came down to their own head-to-head late in the day to decide their fate.
Minoprio was the aggressor in the pre-start, hoisting his spinnaker in a bold and daring move that paid off handsomely, pushing Richard over the line early and pinning a penalty on him. But the Frenchman had no intention of caving under pressure – he quickly recovered a little ground, although Minoprio won the first cross, bouncing Richard back to the left. Earlier this had been the disadvantaged side, but the dynamic had changed and Richard led by 20 seconds at the first mark.
On the first run Minoprio closed the gap, but the Tour leader gave a superb display of his match racing skills to extend his lead just enough to edge into a band of stronger wind the Kiwi was unable to reach. At that stage it was all over for Minoprio – Richard completed his penalty and finished 2 minutes ahead.
Reflecting on his defeat, a downbeat Minoprio commented: “This is the number one disappointment in my sailing career. We didn’t have a great year and it’s been a disappointing regatta not to make it through to the last eight and be out of the World Championship. Perhaps we should’ve gone to Perth. This will bug me for a while – It’ll take three months to get over this. We’ll take some time out to reflect on this now.”
Although the final two flights of the Qualifying Sessions are yet to be sailed, the eight teams to reach the Quarter-Finals are confirmed. Four-time World Champion Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing scraped through by the narrowest of margins after a tense match against fellow countryman Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, who kept his outside chance of winning the World Championship alive by also qualifying for the Quarter-Finals.
While Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar reached the last eight with consummate ease, his hope of winning a third World Championship was dashed when Richard squeezed through. With the Monsoon Cup now his main focus, it’s unlikely he’ll pick the resurgent Richard as his opponent in the Quarter-Finals.
Another man who’s still in with a chance of winning the championship is Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN who is looking ominously impressive with an 8-2 scoreline. Despite claiming earlier in the week that he wouldn’t pick Richard, the only way Ainslie can keep his destiny in his own hands is to take the Frenchman out in the Quarter-Finals.
Also, in the hunt for the coveted Monsoon Cup are former Tour [Champion Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing Team, Italy’s Francesco Bruni from Team Azzurra and a man who is justifying his wildcard, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team.
Elsewhere, New Zealand’s newest sailing prodigy, Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing, young pretender Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing and local hero Jeremy Koo (MAS) Koo Racing Team Evernew discovered how tough it is to compete on the World Tour with all three failing to make the cut against the world’s best.
The table below shows who needs to do what to finish at the top of the WMRT tree:
Skipper/Current Points/1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th/7th/8th/9th +
With the world championship potentially being decided tomorrow make sure you catch all the action live at www.wmrt.com.
Standings at the end of Qualifying Session 3:
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar 8-1
Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN 8-2
Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing Team 8-2
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Team Azzurra 6-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team 6-4
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 6-5
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 5-6
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 4-5
Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 4-7
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 2-7
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 2-7
Jeremy Koo (MAL) Koo Racing Team – EVERNEW 0-10