The race committee for the World Match Racing Tour Newport had its work cut out today, as the breeze, for the most part, refused to co-operate. After a full day out on the water, just one round of the Quarter Finals was completed.
After some small ripples appeared on the surface of Newport Harbor, the first two matches were sailed relatively promptly, while it wasn’t until the very end of the afternoon that the final match between Sweden’s Stefan Rahm and Kiwi Phil Robertson could be sailed. With just one day left now to get through Semi Finals and Finals, it was decided that today’s Quarter Finals would be a one-round affair.
First off, Taylor Canfield and his US One Team dispatched New Zealand’s Chris Steele and his 36 Below Racing team.
“We knew the forecast was going to be bad all day, but we didn’t think it was going to be this bad,” Canfield confided later. “You have to play the game as if every race is the last race of the regatta. It was nice to come away with the win after a good battle but disappointing that it came down to one race – I was looking forward to racing those guys [36 Below], because they have been sailing quite well. And especially with an umpire call in the race – it was quite a tough one.” This was over a port-starboard incident at the leeward mark which went against the Kiwis.
Shortly after, six time Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams beat young Swede Nicklas Dackhammar.
There was then a pause before France’s Yann Guichard and his Spindriftracing crew lined up with talented Dane Nicolai Sehested and his Trefor Match Racing team. While Sehested somehow flew a hull into the start, it was Guichard that managed a big lead straight out of the blocks. However, on a day when the breeze was supremely patchy, there were plenty of catch-up opportunities. As Guichard recounted: “We pulled out a big lead, but on the second leg the wind came from behind and Nicolai caught us up.” The Danes came close but the wily Frenchman managed to keep his team a nose in front to take the win.
Ashore, Guichard was pleased to have come out on top, but was also kicking himself. “Just before the start I said to my team that there would probably be only one race today, so if we won we would get up to the next step, so it was really important to win the race. But I made a mistake to control Nicolai and not to follow the wind, because you have to stay calm and focus on maneuvers. So we made two bad tacks, which let him right back into the game.”
In the final race, Phil Robertson’s WAKA Racing team overcame an early penalty to beat Swede Stefan Rahm.
Typically M32s need only four to five knots of wind to race, but even this was something of a rarity on Newport Harbor today. “The issue was that it was very puffy and fickle direction-wise,” recounted Canfield.
Tomorrow’s Semi-Finals will see Canfield lining up against Williams, while Guichard will meet Robertson.
Obviously on everyone’s mind is what the weather will do for the final day of the World Match Racing Tour Newport. According to local expert, Brad Read, Executive Director of Sail Newport: “Tomorrow is going to be a beautiful day, sunny with partial clouds, which sets things up well for a sea breeze. I think we’ll get a six to eight knot breeze filling in at around 11:00 and that could build upwards to 10-12 knots from the south southeast.”
Tomorrow’s Finals will be televised and streamed live, starting at 2pm local time (1800 UTC), viewable on www.wmrt.com
Newport Results Day 5 – Quarter Finals
The winner of each pair moves on to the Semi Finals tomorrow.
1. Taylor Canfield (ISV), US One – 1 point
2. Chris Steele (NZL), 36 Below Racing – 0 points
1. Ian Williams (GBR), GAC Pindar – 1 point
2. Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE), ESSIQ Racing Team – 0 points
1. Yann Guichard (FRA), Spindrift Racing – 1 point
2. Nicolai Sehested (DEN), TRE_FOR Match Racing – 0 points
1. Phil Robertson (NZL), WAKA Racing – 1 points
2. Mattias Rahm (SWE), Rahm Racing – 0 points