Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can Favourites Win Match Race France in J/80s?

Ben Ainslie- J/80s sailing Match Race France in Marseilles. Not.  Instead, it was "Local French Hero Reverses History!"  Here's the report from the WMRT.  "Twelve skippers went to Yacht Club Pointe Rouge, Southern France for the start of the 2010 World Match Racing Tour (WMRT). The first of this 10 event global series starts in Marseille and will count towards points for the ultimate prize of becoming the 2010 ISAF World Match Racing Champion.  With a daunting line up of skippers including seasoned World Champions, Olympic medal holders and adrenalin-fuelled youngsters, any skipper lining up to perform pre-start tactics would have to be confident of their match racing prowess and boat handling abilities onboard the J/80 yachts. The J/80 will provide a lively model for the skippers to race, a design that works for dinghy sailors as well as big boat racers making tight boat maneuvering during the pre-start achievable for all skippers. The J/80 cockpit is also spacious for the four person crew to perform their jobs to the best of their ability, involving constant alteration of sails, body weight and vantage points to see the competing boat's next move. The J/80's will be raced asymmetrically for this event so it will be interesting to see if those skippers who have previous asymmetric experience will have an advantage on the downhill legs."

J/80 in World Match Race Tour ChampionshipAs the regatta unfolded, it was clear that strong dinghy sailors had an advantage.  Here's what happened, "Stage 1 of the ISAF World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), has put a new twist on an ancient maritime tale. The scenario of English sailors battling French sailors is reminiscent of the famed 1805 Battle of Trafalgar when UK’s Lord Nelson defeated Emperor Napoleon of France. Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAM ORIGIN took on Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team.  The French local, Richard, took a convincing victory winning both of the final two matches raced under a testing 6-7 knot westerly. Richard celebrated with local Marseille supporters, who were quick to take to the water in boats of all sizes."  Photo Credits- Gilles Martin-Raget

Mathieu Richard, who is also tactician for the French America’s Cup syndicate, ALEPH, observed, “We had a slow start to the regatta, but a slow start motivates you to really improve when it counts.” Ainslie sees his time invested in attending WMRT events as a profitable way to keep his match race training fresh, “My ultimate goal for the ISAF World Match Racing Tour events is to improve my match racing skills and rules knowledge”. The Tour forms an important ingredient in Ainslie’s long term America’s Cup ambition with TEAM ORIGIN.   Richard advanced to the finals by beating Francesco Bruni (ITA) 2-1, while Ainslie bested Paolo Cian (ITA) by a similar score. Bruni beat Cian in the single race Petit Final.  For more info sailing J/80s in the World Match Racing Tour