Portimão Portugal Match Cup 2011 - Qualifiers ahead

Radich and Gilmour raced against each other at WMRT Match Race France 2011
© Chris Davies/AWMRT
Tour Card Holder Jesper Radich has vowed to return to the World Match Racing Tour with guns blazing as he gears up to face his rivals on the eve of the first Qualifying Session at the Portimão Portugal Match Cup.

The 12 contending teams hit the azure waters of Portimão today for the Practice Session, their last chance to iron out any problems, acclimatise to their surroundings and to the SM40 boats they will be competing in before the start of Qualifying tomorrow.

One skipper who is looking to make a big impact on the scoreboard here in Portugal is 2003 World Match Racing Tour champion Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee and Partners. He had an impressive 2010 season, making the podium in each of the four events he competed in. Radich’s 2011 season also started strongly, notching up a fourth-place finish at Match Race France and a sixth at Match Race Germany before missing the Korea Match Cup.

Radich has already tasted relative success at the Portugal Match Cup having reached the Semi Finals in 2005. But now the 35-year-old, currently lying in sixth position in the overall standings, is aiming to go one step better as he returns to the thick of the action.

'After our break from the Tour we are going to come out strong and try to throw in a few upsets along the way,' Radich said. 'Our performance so far on the Tour has been slightly below our expectations and a little off our goals. It is the small things that really count in match racing and we have been working hard to smooth out the cracks ahead of the Portimão Portugal Match Cup. We have made the Semi Finals in this event before so we are aiming for one better. We can beat any one of the other teams on our day.'

Tour Card Holder Jesper Radich has vowed to return to the World Match Racing Tour
One of the men standing in Radich’s way is 2010 Portimão Portugal Match Cup winner and four times world champion Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing.

After a disappointing start to the season coming seventh at Match Race France, Gilmour has proven he is a force to contend with finishing second at Match Race Germany and fourth at the Korea Match Cup.

However as the teams hit the water for the Practice Session today ahead of the start of Qualifying tomorrow, Gilmour was keeping his cards close to his chest.

'I’ve been around long enough to know that you can’t focus on the outcome, you can only deal with the process that’s in front of you,' he said. 'That’s what we’re going to try to do. If we don’t win here we will win somewhere else – it’s just a matter of time. It’s going to be a great event and a lot of fun. The Tour will start to form a bit of direction at the end of this event so let’s wait and see what happens.'

Gilmour, a veteran of five America’s Cup campaigns, said he would be putting his AC experience to good use as the boats used at the Portimão Portugal Match Cup – the Swedish Match 40 – is loosely based on the International America’s Cup Class used from 1992 to 2007.

He added: 'The Swedish Match 40 is a great purpose-built boat based loosely on the IACC class from the America’s Cup. In terms of handling, a lot of the America’s Cup starting principles are very important in this boat.'

Following a strong performance in the opening rounds of Match Race France, Portuguese skipper Alvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team will be looking to make the most of his insider knowledge of local weather conditions as he takes on the Tour Card Holders on home waters.

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