Aside from the capsize, the bigger drama of the day came in the first match between Ian Williams and his GAC Pindar crew and Harry Price. Having come through the Qualifying Sail Offs yesterday unbeaten, the young Aussie continued his winning streak claiming the first race off the six-time World Match Racing Tour Champion.
In the second, Price was penalised in a pre-start collision but did a great job to catch up and was provided with a last chance to roll Williams coming into the finish line when the GAC Pindar gennaker failed to deploy properly. This was much the same story in the next two races with the regular lead changes and ultimately the British match racing veteran ultimately prevailing, 3-1.
“Those guys did a great job – they pushed us all the way,” said Williams. “The extra racing they had yesterday in similar conditions gave them an advantage. It was very tough out there, but we are pleased to get through – that’s all that matters at a match race regatta.”
The southerly wind veered west mid-afternoon and there were large holes across the course, with wind speeds of 4- 14 knots. Aboard their high performance M32 catamarans, Dackhammar won race one, then in the second Jerwood prevailed after three lead changes. Jerwood planted a pre-start penalty on his opponent taking it to match point but then the young Swede bounced back the level the score. The final race seemed to all be over when Dackhammar copped another pre-start penalty. Advantage Australia.
However “there were puffy conditions. It was getting quite light and we thought that would favour us, sailing upwind with the gennaker,” explained Dackhammar. “We tried to avoid the light patches and make good manoeuvres sailing fast all the time.”
Swedish fans were euphoric when their underdogs eventually pulled ahead, to win the decider and a Quarter Finals place. On board there were hugs all round. “It was a relief,” admitted Dackhammar. “The World Match Racing Tour is a top level competition and coming to our city in our country – this is the event we most want to win. We knew it would be tough against Jerwood. They were second in Australia and were third here last year. This shows that we can go all the way.”
Jerwood was gracious in defeat: “We weren’t good enough today. All day we were struggling in the lighter airs while Nick is really quick. We can’t keep up with him in those conditions.”
In his series today defending GKSS Match Cup Sweden champion, Phil Robertson and his CHINAone NINGBO crew got pushed hard by San Diego’s Nevin Snow and his 13 Fifty Racing. While the Kiwi skipper tied his opponent up in knots in the first race’s pre-start, providing them with almost a complete leg’s lead, Snow returned the favour in the third race in which Robertson hooked not only the pin mark but then charged off downwind with the weather marks tucked up under one of his M32’s racks like a rugby ball. Eventually Robertson prevailed to win 3-1.
“It was nice to do some match racing again – it was quite challenging!” admitted Robertson. “We were both pushing the starts hard and getting aggressive in the pre-start. You had to lock out the leeward start because it was favoured. We got two right and he got two wrong. They may be a young US team, but they pushed us to our limits.”
Snow countered: “We did a lot of things right and we made a couple of continual errors. The race course was pretty tricky – we were over in the last race and then there was nothing we could do to get back into it.”
it was only US Virgin Islander Taylor Canfield and his US One Sailing Team that came through unscathed with a 3-0 scoreline. In the process Canfield eliminated the competition’s final Swede, Måns Holmberg, son of GKSS Match Cup Sweden founder, Magnus. Canfield’s job was made easier in the second race when Holmberg led into the first mark only to be caught by a gust as he deployed his gennaker causing the young Gothenburg Racing Team crew to experience their second capsize of the week.
“It was a great fight against Måns – he sailed well,” recounted Canfield, the two time Match Racing World Champion. “It was a really short race track and there were a lot of manoeuvres: It came down to whoever made fewer mistakes out there.”
Of the conditions today, Canfield observed: “The breeze coming over the land and dropping down onto the racecourse made for a few close calls. It was hard to read the wind and it seemed to be 50-50 out of each side. There wasn’t much time to look around, because there was so much manoeuvring on that tight, narrow race course.”
The last race saw repeated overtaking but ultimately a better gennaker hoist at the top mark and subsequent gybe enabled the US One crew to get around the bow of their opponent to take the win.
With Sam Gilmour out, one Gilmour remains in the competition in elder brother David. “Today was quite difficult because it was more shifty with the wind coming over land,” he said.
Gilmour also took some match racing to two time Women’s Match Racing World Champion, Sally Barkow. This included a massive final race dial-down coming into the top mark that left Team Magenta 32 floundering. “Dial-downs don’t generally work in catamarans and we had planning on not doing one but we thought it was the right spot under the rocks where there wasn’t so much wind and Sally had to do quite a big turn to go behind us and there wasn’t much wind for them to accelerate,” Gilmour explained.
Gothenburg local Johnie Berntsson faced a tough opponent in 2016 semifinalist Chris Steele with his 36 Below Racing. The Swede put up a strong fight for the local crowds but the match racing prowess of Kiwi Steele in these M32 catamarans overpowered as he took the series 3-0 to send Berntsson’s FLUX Team home.
PJ Postma and Torvar Mirsky was always going to be an interesting battle, the veteran Dutch Olympic Finn sailor up against the well seasoned Aussie match racer, making his return on the World Match Racing Tour this season. However it was Postma who prevailed, showing good pre-start tactics and good pace on the course, allowing Mirsky to claim just one point off him.
Spindrift racing skipper Yann Guichard was also on fire, albeit in slightly unorthodox fashion. He lost all his starts against Sam Gilmour, but in all three races came from behind to take the lead. “It was really tight racing,” said Guichard. “We made a couple of mistakes during the pre-starts, but after that we sailed very well. Our tactics were perfect and our manoeuvres as well. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you can’t put a foot wrong.” As to losing the starts, Guichard attributed this to mis-communication on board.
Sail Off Results
Sail Off 1
POS COUNTRY SKIPPER TEAM 101 102 103 104 105 106 PTS
Down Under Racing
Albert Riele Swiss Team
|1||AUS||Harry Price||Down Under Racing||1||1||2|
|2||SUI||Eric Monnin||Albert Riele Swiss Team||0||0||0|
QSaill Off 2
|1||AUS||Harry Price||Down under racing||1||1||2|
|2||AUS||Evan Walker||KA Match||0||0||0|