WMRT Monsoon Cup - Wildcard entries announced

Close racing at Monsoon Cup 2010
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Monsoon Cup is the final stage of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) and will take place from the 22nd to 27th November 2011 in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.

The race to win the ISAF World Match Racing Tour just got harder with today’s announcement that Tour Cardholders Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team and Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing are to be given wildcard entries to the season finale.

Despite sitting ninth and 10th on the overall WMRT leaderboard - and therefore not automatic invitees for the World Championship deciding regatta - both Richard and Robertson will pose a major threat to all the crews competing in Malaysia and could play a crucial role in deciding the eventual winner of the coveted 2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour title.

The news that last year’s Championship runner-up Richard, who showed his world-class credentials when knocking Championship leader Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar out of the Argo Group Gold Cup 3-0, will be competing in Kuala Terengganu will pile on the pressure for all the crews taking part and leaves the race for the World Championship wide open.

The Monsoon Cup sees the top eight crews in the WMRT standings qualify for the showdown in Malaysia where USD480,000 is on the line, along with a USD500,000 tour bonus pool. With all of the top eight teams, as well as Richard, still in with a mathematical chance of winning the title the regatta promises to be one of the closest and most fierce battles in the Championship’s history.

Britain’s two-time former Champion, Ian Williams heads the standings going into the final regatta but has Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing and Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat breathing down his neck with just over 6 points separating the three, and with both skippers chasing their maiden WMRT title the pressure on Williams will be intense.

Leading the rest of the teams is four-time World Champion Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing who has proved himself a past master at the Monsoon Cup having won it twice. Gilmour will be joined by Korea Match Cup Champion Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team, Match Race France Champion Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team and tour cardholders Johnnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team and Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners.

Completing the line up of 12 crews will be Asian Match Racing Championship winner William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing and Malaysian Match Racing Champion Jeremy Koo (MAS) Abdullah Chan/KRT. Having won through rigorous qualifying events to stake their place at the Monsoon Cup both teams are capable of causing some upsets to the form book. No match will be taken for granted.

The story of the season so far:
The 2011 season got off to a flying start in Marseille, France where Iehl defeated countryman, Bertrand Pace (FRA) Aleph Sailing Team 2-0 in the final at Match Race France.

The action then continued in Langenargen, Germany where Bruni claimed his first ever victory on the WMRT after defeating four-time World Champion Gilmour to take home the Match Race Germany title. However things weren’t to go so smoothly for Bruni at the Korea Match Cup in Gyeonggi, South Korea when he fell to Hansen 3-2 in a thrilling finale.

The Portimão Portugal Match Cup in Portimão, Portugal saw Bruni suffer the same fate, this time to Williams who took home his first WMRT win in three years. Williams’ victory over Bruni continued a pattern of different winners at each of the four completed stages which promised to be one of the most hotly contested seasons in recent years. Williams’ win shot his team up the Tour standings from 10th to third place, which at the halfway stage of the Tour was a huge boost for the 2007 and 2008 World Champion. In Marstrand, Sweden, Williams scored his second consecutive win over arch rival Hansen in an exciting five-match finale at the Stena Match Cup Sweden.

Williams’ winning streak came to an end at the St. Moritz Match Race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, when Mirsky was crowned the new ‘King of the Mountain’ after what had been a difficult season for the young skipper. It wasn’t all bad news for Williams however as his third place finish was enough to move him up into first position in the overall Championship standings.

It seemed Mirsky’s taste of success left him wanting more and a fifth match sudden death decider in the final against Berntsson at the Argo Group Gold Cup in Hamilton, Bermuda saw him claim his second consecutive victory. A win in the petit final for Bruni over Robertson allowed the gap between the top trio of Williams, Bruni and Mirsky to be reduced to just over six points.

The 2011 ISAF Match Racing World Championship will be decided at the Monsoon Cup.

Overall Championship Standings – after seven stages:
1 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar – 106pts
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 100pts
3 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 99.8pts
4 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 78.8pts
5 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 75pts
6 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 74pts
7 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 73.2pts
8 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 71.2pts
9 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 69.6pts
10 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 64.4pts

2011 Monsoon Cup Teams:
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team
Jeremy Koo (MAS) Abdullah Chan/KRT
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar

World Match Racing Tour website
Monsoon Cup website