Richard Fighting to Stay in the Hunt on Day 2
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team staged a late fight back in the second Qualifying Session at the Monsoon Cup to keep his ISAF Match Racing World Championship hopes alive. A quick glance over his shoulder and the Frenchman will be encouraged to see his nearest rival Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing looking increasingly fallible. Their loss is Ainslie's gain...
Richard's (FRA) French Match Racing Team, who remained defiant after a poor opening Qualifying Session, needed to post some early wins today to boost his overnight 0-2 scoreline and his confidence. It wasn’t to be. After a defeat against Francesco Bruni (ITA) Team Azzurra he was up against Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing Team. They appeared evenly matched, with the Dane holding a slim lead on the water, but carrying a penalty, until Richard fell into a hole in the wind. Radich managed to unwind his penalty and finish almost two minutes ahead, pummeling Richard into his fifth loss of the event.
The Frenchman hasn't relied on luck to lead the championship race, so it was no surprise to see him rally his team in his final two races against Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing and Jeremy Koo (MAS) Koo Racing Team- Evernew to give his team a more flattering 3-5 overnight scoreline.
If Richard’s head was down, Adam Minoprio’s was dipped more. He was simply a different man out there today to the one Peter Montgomery said ‘flourishes when tension levels rise’. The Kiwi will have it all to do tomorrow after finishing in 9th position today.
Minoprio and Richard’s loss is proving to be TEAMORIGIN skipper, Ben Ainslie’s gain. The three-time Olympic gold medalist showed his pedigree in tricky light conditions at the Pulau Duyong. He won all his matches today, including a comprehensive victory over Richard.
Asked why he felt Richard was suffering, Ainslie said: “It’s very tough out there in these very light conditions. Mathieu would no doubt be doing better if there was a steadier breeze as it would be more about match racing. The results have been coming more from general sailing ability… it’s probably easier for dinghy sailors than some of the match racers.”
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar will be satisfied with his result today having gone unbeaten to extend his record for the regatta to 7-0. He came to the Monsoon Cup in 5th place and an outside chance of claiming a hat-trick of world titles. Results so far are playing into his hands - he will win the championship if neither Ainslie nor Minoprio finish on the podium, and Richard is knocked out before the Quarter-Finals.
History tells us that it's too soon to write off any competitors at this stage – afterall Williams won both his World Championship titles after scraping into the Quarter-Finals in 8th place. After losing his first two races yesterday, Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing Team turned his game around today, winning all five of his matches to have one foot in the Quarter-Finals, along with Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team who also holds a 5-2 scoreline.
With Francesco Bruni (ITA) Team Azzurra on the cusp of a Quarter-Final spot, six of the remaining seven teams are still in contention for a place in the final eight. If spectators needed any further evidence of the pressure these skippers are under, they need to look no further than the skippers’ heart-rate monitors. Consistently hitting the rates a seasoned athlete would show during a long-distance run, today the stress of trying to win the ISAF Match Racing World Championship was plain to see.
You can see all tomorrow’s action from Qualifying Session 3 live on www.wmrt.com, including the clash between Richard and Minoprio that looks increasingly likely to determine which of the two top seeds will make it through to the Quarter-Finals. We start broadcasting live online at 1000 local time (GMT+8).