Monsoon Cup 2008 – World Championship Final Round
4:38 AM Fri 7 Nov 2008
|'Gilmour and Williams - Day 1 Monsoon Cup' Sail-World.com/ AUS © Click Here to view large photo|
For the fourth year running, it will be sailed in the eastern Malaysian state of Terengganu, on Duyong Island in the Terengganu River, which flows through this state capital. Over the last three years large crowds have gathered on the island foreshore to watch the action.
The pressure is on for the 2007 Monsoon Cup winners and 2006-2007 World Champions, Bahrain Team Pindar skippered by Ian Williams, who must beat France’s Sébastien Col to retain the World title. Col and his French Team/K-Challenge is in great form having won the Berlin Match racing event and his Tour record is good, despite having sailed one less event than the other two top placed teams. The current World number one ISAF ranked sailor Frenchman Mathieu Richard, should not be under estimated and indeed he too could win the Monsoon Cup and the championship title.
The current leader board, as it stands, going into the Monsoon Cup is
1st Ian Williams, GBR Bahrain Team Pindar 92
2nd Sébastien Col, FRA French Team/K-Challenge 88
3rd Mathieu Richard, FRA French Team/French Spirit 77
4th Adam Minoprio, NZL ETNZ/BlackMatch 53
= Torvar Mirsky, AUS Mirsky Racing Team 53
6th Magnus Holmberg, SWE Victory Challenge 51
In this final event of the season there are 150 World Championship points at stake. The Monsoon Cup winner will receive 38 championship points; the second placed team 30, third placed 22, fourth 18. Any of the top three teams could win this event and the 2008 Tour.
This year consistency has paid off for Bahrain Team Pindar and after winning the Danish Open and finishing second in both the Korea Match Cup and St Moritz Match Race; they are at the top of the Tour leader board.
Williams and his Bahrain Team Pindar have a simple plan. Williams says, 'We are approaching the Monsoon Cup as a one- off event, as a World Championship.
‘We are going to get the best result we can. Of course we are going to be watching what Sébastien (Col) and Mathieu (Richard) are up to, but at the same time trying not to focus on them too much. Our approach to last year was to go out and try to win the event. In the end we won the World Championship the day before by qualifying for the final. Williams said
‘Our aim is to win the Monsoon Cup and therefore the Championship.’
Sébastien Col has a great success rate this year, with two wins in the Korea Match Cup and the Portugal Match Cup. Although behind on points, Col will ensure Williams does not have an easy path to the top of the leader board.
Col says, 'My first goal is the World Match Racing Tour title, the second one is the Monsoon Cup regatta itself. We will face eleven teams, any of whom could potentially win the Monsoon Cup. So we don’t think too much about the results. We focus, and will have to be ready in the best shape, highly motivated, as always, and above all, we’ll have to be confident. This year has already been a big 'bonus' for us, and now there might be ‘a cherry on the top of the cake’ as we say in French.
‘At the Monsoon Cup we will fight hard and give our maximum, as we always do with my team.'
In third place Mathieu Richard and his French Team/French Spirit has a larger task. Richard beat Williams in the St Moritz Match Race final and is keen to beat him early in the Monsoon Cup Round Robin.
‘We still have a chance to win the championship, but for us to win the event then the other two would have to have been beaten early in the series. We have to be more aggressive because we are only third. We have to pass two teams first of all. They are quite fast’ Richard says.
‘Sébastien Col is having a great season this year … again beating him could be a tough job for Williams.
‘Sébastien and Ian have a very similar style. They are very good on the starts. They often sail at the same level, which is a high level.
‘Sometimes they can be higher, but not so much. We are different, we are a little irregular. We can be brilliant, but we can also be lost’ concluded Richard.
Ian Williams offers this commentary on his rivals.
‘We’ve been sailing Sébastien for ten years. He’s very solid; he’s very cool and very calm. He has quite a structured way of sailing. Sébastien understands the match racing very well and he’s well practiced at it. We expect him to be very strong. We always feel that if we really ‘step up’ and sail our best game, that we should beat him. But he never takes it lying down. If that doesn’t happen, he’s always there; he’s always sailing solidly and fast. If we make mistakes he won’t make many mistakes, and consequently he’ll come in strong.
‘We thought that Mathieu was going to be the biggest challenge this year. He was sailing extremely well in the early rounds of every regatta, often much better than us. He’s a big threat and certainly if he does win, then he’s got a good shot at winning the World Championship.’
West Australian Torvar Mirsky and New Zealander Adam Minoprio are great friends but bitter rivals out on the racecourse.
At 22 and 23 years old respectively, these two sailors are the young guns of the fleet. Mirsky beat Minoprio in the final of the prestigious invitation only Warren Jones Regatta, an event for under 25 year old Match Racers held in Perth, Western Australia. Minoprio however, has just scored a great second place in the recently concluded WMRT event, the King Edward VII Gold Cup in Bermuda.
With the large amount of prize money on offer at the Monsoon Cup both are hungry for a win, although neither can take the overall Tour title this year. At best, either could finish in second place, still a great achievement for 2008.
The contrast in their styles will be interesting to watch out on Duyong Basin. Mirsky is known for his aggressive tactics, whereas Minoprio has a more conservative style and the matches between these two will prove most intriguing.
Neither of these crews is leaving anything to chance with Mirsky training in Perth before the Monsoon Cup on Foundation 36’s. Williams and Richard will be joining him.
Minoprio on the other hand, will be in Auckland over the next few weeks at the New Zealand Match Racing titles. The competition will be tough and he will come up against two America’s Cup master match racers, Chris Dickson and Dean Barker. Add the multiple Olympic Gold Medallist, Team Origin America’s Cup skipper Ben Ainslie, and the racing is sure to be super competitive.
Ben Ainslie will be sailing in his first Monsoon Cup event and the crowds are sure to be attracted to this star.
The Monsoon Cup star-studded field of 12 includes two match racing veterans.
Peter Gilmour was the winner of the inaugural Monsoon Cup in 2005. In 2007 he finished second, in what he considers his ‘home’ tour event. Gilmour is the only four times ISAF World Match Racing champion having won the title in 1990,1997,1998,2006.
Magnus Holmberg from Sweden won the World Tour in 2000-2001. He finished third at Match Cup Sweden and second in the Portugal Match Cup and this America’s Cup skipper would like nothing less than a Swedish Victory.
There will be a total of 12 teams in the 2008 event; two more tour teams are yet to be announced. The Malaysian and Asian Qualifiers will round out the dozen.
The Malaysian Qualifiers, to be sailed 24th to 26th November and the Asian Qualifiers, from 27th through to the 29th November, will be conducted on the Terengganu match racing course. The ultimate prize for the winner of each event is entry into the Monsoon Cup.