Four-time Match Racing World Champion Peter Gilmour emerged as one of the on-form skippers in a feisty first day of racing at the Korea Match Cup. Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing finished the first Qualifying Session with four wins from five races including important victories over fellow countryman Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat and Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing.
It was an action-packed start to the third stage of the World Match Racing Tour which saw a number of skippers lay their intentions bare on the waters of Jeongok harbour in Gyeonggi Province. Over nine flights and with a light breeze of around six to 12 knots, the sailors’ skills were put to the test as they went head-to-head in the specially-designed KM36 yachts.
Gilmour, one of the most respected and feared competitors on the Tour, was only defeated by last year’s Korea Match Cup winner Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team and finishes the day at the top of the scoreboard.
“It was a good first day for us with plenty of action,” said Gilmour. “It’s pretty brutal out there. You make one mistake and the other guys will pounce on you. The key is definitely to sail clean and slick. It’s early days but we’re feeling pretty good after day one.”
After a podium finish at Match Race France Torvar Mirsky came out guns blazing, picking up penalties in all but one of his races. His trademark aggressive tactics won him crucial battles against Robertson, Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team and Paul Campbell-James (GBR) Dream Team. However in his match against Gilmour, Mirsky was given a double penalty when he barged in at mark two forcing Gilmour to take avoiding action.
Mirsky said: “I feel like we sailed really well today, the boys got good speeds from the boat. We had two big incidents which caused us to lose two races but that’s the nature of racing boats this big on such a small racecourse. You have to fight all day long and sometimes the umpire’s decision goes against you. We’re very comfortable going into the rest of the week.”
Italian skipper Francesco Bruni laid down his intentions slaying arch rival and current World Match Racing Tour leader Damien Iehl early on. After a comfortable victory over Reuben Corbett (NZL) AON Racing Team in the first flight of the first Qualifying Session, Bruni (Bruni Racing) came out on top of a bitter duel with Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team in the morning’s flagship pairing.
Iehl, winner of Match Race France, the first event of the World Match Racing Tour in Marseille, came out of the blocks quickly against Bruni, victor at Match Race Germany. Bruni got the upper hand on the first sprint to the windward mark forcing a penalty onto Iehl but it was offset when Bruni was penalised for hitting Iehl’s boat in the close combat that followed. Eventually Bruni managed to squeeze ahead of Iehl to take the win, the second of three wins of the day.
Defending Korea Match Cup champion Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Racing Team went down to Campbell-James and Robertson but scored big wins over Gilmour and Mirsky.
Korean talent Sung Wook Kim got a taste of world class match racing on his home waters with his Busan Match Team suffering three defeats in three races.
“It was really tough for us just to qualify but I feel very honoured to be here competing against the very best professionals in sailing,” Kim said. “Last year we beat Peter Gilmour so hopefully we will be able to do it again this year.”
Standings After the First Qualifying Session:
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 4-1
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 3-1
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar 3-1
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat 3-2
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 3-2
Bjorn Hansen (DEN) Mekonomen Sailing Team 2-2
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2-2
Paul Campbell-James (GBR) Dream Team 2-3
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 2-3
Reuben Corbett (NZL) AON Racing Team 1-2
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 1-4
Sung Wook Kim (KOR) Busan Match Team 0-3
– PR –