After a brisk training day when the Bakewell White designed KM36s were being pushed to the limit in 25+ knot winds, so a night of rain, thunder and lightning gave way to an afternoon of racing that started in 8-10 knots and got progressively lighter. An added complexity for the six boats racing off the giant Korea International Boat Show site, in addition to a current flowing across the course early in the afternoon, was the fog that put Yanmar Racing skipper Peter Gilmour in mind of his days match racing in Newport, Rhode Island.
“It is very tricky. The wind is quite light and also with the visibility it is not always that easy to see where the best pressure is,” stated Bahrain Team Pindar’s Ian Williams of the fog.
With a short course positioned so close to the end of the breakwater at Jeongok Marina that you could regularly see the whites of the crews’ eyes, so today just four flights were sailed in the round robin. This relatively short day of racing was something many of the teams were profoundly grateful for having had just 24 hours to make it half way around the world to southwest Korea from Match Race Germany, which concluded on Monday.
“We always said from when the schedule first came out that this was going to be very hard - it is about the worst time change you can do,” said Bahrain Team Pindar skipper, Ian Williams. “We have always found that coming to here or to Malaysia from Europe is really tough on the body, so we were very focussed on trying to overcome the jetlag. I feel very tired now and I suspect that tomorrow it will be just as bad.”
With just four flight sailed it is early days in this regatta, but the conclusion of day one sees the two British teams - Ben Ainslie’s TeamOrigin and Ian Williams’ Bahrain Team Pindar - take two wins in the two races they have sailed. Gilmour may also be on a two out of two scoreline if the jury decide in his favour as a pleasure boat accidentally sailed through the middle of the pre-start of his first match against joint World Match Racing Tour leader, France’s Mathieu Richard.
Gilmour’s matches were as lively as ever, picking up a penalty in the pre-start with Richard, which he managed to execute in time to still finish ahead of his French opponent. In the pre-start of his next match against Bjorn Hansen he narrowly managed to get away without receiving a penalty after a port-starboard incident by the committee boat seconds from the gun. “Quite often they rule the other way but I think he had spent so much time sailing underneath our dirty air he didn’t have quite enough speed to drive it in there and force it in there, so he tacked and kept well clear,” said Gilmour.
By the time he came in, quadruple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie looked ready to collapse with jetlag too. In his pre-start against Australia’s Torvar Mirsky, Ainslie picked up a port-starboard penalty during a dial up, but was able to shed this before the finish to take the win. The pre-start against Team Shosholoza’s Paolo Cian, the tension had been for different reasons as in the light wind the TeamOrigin crew had had to hoist the spinnaker just to get back across the line in time.
“It seems to be a leader’s course this one,” commented Ainslie. “So if you can get off the line ahead, with the course being so short there aren’t a lot of options for the next guy. There are quick big differences downwind with these boats - if you get a little bit more pressure and there are big gains and loses, so it is tricky.”
Some of the surprise losses today were America’s Cup helm Sébastien Col to the young Kiwi Adam Minoprio and the talented Frenchman Matthieu Richard to the old fox, Peter Gilmour. Perhaps the surprises of the day was when Sébastien Col found himself being lead around the race course by the event’s sole Korean entry Byeong-Ki Park. Alarmingly for Col and his French team, the local favourites were doing a great job defending the right up the beat and with it finding better puffs. It was only on the final beat that Col was able to fight back and roll the Koreans.
“This is very good with all these tops sailors,” said an elated Park, who gained his spot at Korea Match Cup after coming finishing first of four Korean teams at a qualifying event held a fortnight ago. “My ranking is very very low! So I am very happy!”
Results after four flights
Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin 2-0
Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar 2-0
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 2-0
Sebastien Col (FRA) French Team/K-Challenge 1-1
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 1-1
Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 1-1
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Team Onboard 1-1
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 1-1
Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza 1-1
Philippe Presti (FRA) French Match Racing Team 0-2
Laurie Jury (NZL) 0-2
Byeong Ki Park (KOR) 0-2