WMRT Korea Match Cup 2011 - Iehl comes out fighting

Iehl boosts his chances of making the Quarter-Finals with a win over Gilmour - Korea Match Cup 2011
Korea Match Cup 2011 is the third stage of the World Matching Racing Tour being held in the Gyeonggi Province, on the waters of Jeongok harbour. The third Qualifying Session was held today (10th June).

Current World Match Racing Tour leader Damien Iehl kept his hopes of winning the Korea Match Cup title alive today defeating Peter Gilmour in one of only three races sailed. The victory moves Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team back up into the top half of the rankings and on to equal standings with Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing with four wins and three losses.

There was also disappointment for last year’s Korea Match Cup runner-up Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar, one of the favourites to lift the 2011 Cup, who had his plans for glory put on hold by Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team who scored only his second win of the regatta.

For the second day running the twelve international teams were greeted with a total lack of wind in Jeongok Harbour in Hwaseong City, South Korea, forcing race officials to postpone the action in the hope of more breeze later in the day. The race officers had hoped to fit in the remaining eight flights of the Qualifying Sessions but when the sailors did finally take to the water in the early afternoon they were met with shifty and fickle winds.

The first match of the day saw wildcard entry Paul Campbell-James (GBR) Dream Team take on Sweden’s Bjorn Hansen Mekonomen Sailing Team. Buoyed by big wins over Mathieu Richard on day one of qualifying and Damien Iehl on day two, Campbell-James was confident in the pre-start forcing a penalty on to Hansen for contact. The Swede led round the course, taking his penalty as he rounded the pin mark and claiming the win. He was however docked half a point for causing damage to Campbell-James' boat in the incident that led to his penalty. Hansen is one of the most consistent skippers over the past two days with four consecutive victories to his name.

The biggest upset of the day came when Johnie Berntsson turned his five-race losing streak around defeating Ian Williams. Berntsson forced Williams the wrong side of the committee boat at the start of their match, giving him a lead that Williams could not recover.

'We have been struggling all week so this was a really important point for us,' Berntsson said.

In the final match before racing was stopped for the day, Damien Iehl secured a crucial victory over Peter Gilmour to keep his hopes of making the final cut alive. A loss for Iehl would have plunged him down into to the lower end of the leaderboard - but instead he scored a win to draw level with Gilmour. Iehl came out fighting pushing Gilmour over the line early at the pin end and rounded the first mark ahead but by the next mark rounding it was all change. Gilmour picked up better breeze down the right side of the course (as you look upwind) snatching the lead from Iehl.

A messy spinnaker drop at the second mark from Gilmour gave Iehl the opportunity to split and find more speed down the right side of the course. As the two boats came together for the final gybe it was Iehl who had the upper hand, slipping across the finish line just ahead.

Iehl said: 'It was a good win for us. It was a very tough match because the shifty winds made it very difficult to choose the correct side of the course. Peter is a very good sailor so we're very happy to win against him.'

Principal race officer Harold Bennett confirmed that the seven remaining flights of the Qualifying Sessions will be completed tomorrow before moving on to the Quarter Finals. Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing will need to put in big performances against Bjorn Hansen, Ian Williams and Damien Iehl if he wants to progress any further in the Korea Match Cup. Paul Campbell-James also faces some tough opponents including top-of-the-table Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing who has won six of his eight matches.

The action from the Korea Match Cup will be broadcast live tomorrow from 1400 to 1600 local time (GMT+9).

Standings after the third Qualifying Session:
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 6-2
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 6-2
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar 5-2
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat 5-3
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 4-3
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 4-3
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 4-4
Bjorn Hansen (DEN) Mekonomen Sailing Team 3.5-3
Paul Campbell-James (GBR) Dream Team 3-4
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 2-5
Reuben Corbett (NZL) AON Racing Team 1-7
Sung Wook Kim (KOR) Busan Match Team 1-7

2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour Standings (after 2 stages):
1 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team - 39 pts
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 37pts
3 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 32pts
4 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 28pts
5 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 23pts
6 Bertrand Pace (FRA) Aleph Sailing Team – 22pts
7 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 19pts
8 Evgeny Neugodnikov (RUS) Team Synergy – 16pts
9 Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) Extreme Team Morbihan – 14pts
10 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 10pts

Korea Match Cup website
World Match Racing Tour website