GKSS Match Cup Sweden is renowned for drawing out exceptional performances from local sailors, fired up by crowds cheering them on from the perimeter of Marstrand Arena and with assistance from the Nordic wind gods.
This occurred today when Nicklas Dackhammar’s ESSIQ Racing Team, 15th on the World Match Racing Tour leaderboard, overcame Australian Matt Jerwood’s Redline Racing fifth placed team in a five race marathon.
The southerly wind veered west mid-afternoon and there were large holes across the course, with wind speeds of four – fourteen knots. Aboard their high performance M32 catamarans, Dackhammar won race one, then in the second Jerwood prevailed after three lead changes. Jerwood planted a pre-start penalty on his opponent taking it to match point but then the young Swede bounced back the level the score. The final race seemed to all be over when Dackhammar copped another pre-start penalty. Advantage Australia.
However “there were puffy conditions. It was getting quite light and we thought that would favour us, sailing upwind with the gennaker,” explained Dackhammar. “We tried to avoid the light patches and make good manoeuvres sailing fast all the time.”
Swedish fans were euphoric when their underdogs eventually pulled ahead, to win the decider and a Quarter Finals place. On board there were hugs all round. “It was a relief,” admitted Dackhammar. “The World Match Racing Tour is a top level competition and coming to our city in our country – this is the event we most want to win. We knew it would be tough against Jerwood. They were second in Australia and were third here last year. This shows that we can go all the way.”
Jerwood was gracious in defeat: “We weren’t good enough today. All day we were struggling in the lighter airs while Nick is really quick. We can’t keep up with him in those conditions.”
Elsewhere in the Super 16 Knockout round, Pieter-Jan Postma went three – one up against match racing veteran Torvar Mirsky while there were three – zero wins for David Gilmour against Sally Barkow’s all-female Team Magenta 32 crew and in Chris Steele’s race against another popular Swedish skipper, Johnie Berntsson and his FLUX Team.
Spindrift racing skipper Yann Guichard was also on fire, albeit in slightly unorthodox fashion. He lost all his starts against Sam Gilmour, but in all three races came from behind to take the lead. “It was really tight racing,” said Guichard. “We made a couple of mistakes during the pre-starts, but after that we sailed very well. Our tactics were perfect and our manoeuvres as well. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you can’t put a foot wrong.” As to losing the starts, Guichard attributed this to mis-communication on board.
With Sam Gilmour out, one Gilmour remains in the competition in elder brother David. “Today was quite difficult because it was more shifty with the wind coming over land,” he said.
Gilmour also took some match racing to two time Women’s Match Racing World Champion, Sally Barkow. This included a massive final race dial-down coming into the top mark that left Team Magenta 32 floundering. “Dial-downs don’t generally work in catamarans and we had planning on not doing one but we thought it was the right spot under the rocks where there wasn’t so much wind and Sally had to do quite a big turn to go behind us and there wasn’t much wind for them to accelerate,” Gilmour explained
Another star performer was young Sydney sailor Harry Price, who breezed through his Qualifying Sail Off to get the final berth in the Super 16. First he dispatched Switzerland’s Eric Monnin and then lined up against his fellow Sydney match racer Evan Walker, who again was unable to make an impression on Price, despite planting a pre-start penalty on him.
“We knew we were strong around the course and in the pre-starts and used that to our advantage,” said Price. “We have done a lot of monohull match racing in Australia and elsewhere but we’ve only started in the cats this year. Yesterday was the first time we’d ever been fleet racing in them!”
Tomorrow the remainder of the Super 16 Knockout series will be sailed to determine the rest of the Quarter Finalists.
Qualifying sail off – results:
• Harry Price (AUS) Down Under Racing 2-0 Eric Monnin (SUI) Albert Riele Swiss Team
• Harry Price (AUS) Down Under Racing 2-0 Evan Walker (AUS) KA Match
Super 16 knockout – results
• Yann Guichard (FRA) Spindrift racing 3-0 Sam Gilmour (AUS) Neptune Racing
• David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 3-0 Sally Barkow (USA) Magenta 32
• Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) Sailing Team NL 3-1 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team
• Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE) ESSIQ Racing 3-2 Matt Jerwood (AUS) Redline Racing
• Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing 3-0 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) FLUX Team
by Aston Harald