Double trouble for masters of match racing game

Adam Minoprio and Torvar Mirsky are in the semi final battle of their lives as they match up against Ian Williams and Peter Gilmour in the Monsoon Cup.

Both New Zealander Minoprio (ETNZ/Black Match Racing) and Australian Mirsky (Mirsky Racing Team) are young, talented, determined match racing skippers who have worked very hard to reach the semi finals in this year's Monsoon Cup. They have both been through youth development programs in their respective countries and have struggled to break into the international racing circuit.

Minoprio is already into his semi final battle against newly-crowned 2008 ISAF World Match Racing Champion Ian Williams (Bahrain Team Pindar) with two matches completed yesterday. He has to win three straight matches today to stay in the game.

Minoprio struggled to keep in touch with Williams during their matches yesterday. 'We had a tough start to the semi finals making just a couple errors. In the first race we had a bad tack which allowed Ian to get us on a port and starboard. We had to do a tack in a hurry to keep clear of him and copped a penalty for it. We have a hard task ahead of us,' Minoprio said.

Williams is complimentary of his young opponent's skills. 'Adam has been sailing very, very well this week. To take out Paolo Cian, the winner of the round robin, is fantastic sailing. Clearly (yesterday) was not Adam's day. It was down to some great sailing from my guys. The team I have around me really are the best in the world. They have done such as fantastic job all season.'

Two matches up and a tough day ahead, Williams and his crew really need to stay focused if they are close out Minoprio. 'I think I would be amazed if we can achieve the same level which we achieved (yesterday). Because it was like a dream. But, I think we will be good enough to take out the Monsoon Cup.'

Mirsky is down one semi final match to his mentor, teacher, and previous World Match Racing Champion Peter Gilmour (Yanmar Racing). Today he will need all his aggression and determination to win three consecutive matches and lock out Gilmour.

Mirsky had a long wait yesterday before he was able to get back on the water for the start of his semi final match. 'We thought with Gillie out there with five races in the rain he would be a bit tired and frustrated and not expect to go out and race us again straight into the semis. Gillie is good with the psychology of it all. He loves the mind games. He can find a way to turn it around and make it his. I think he must have had some sort of buzz as he managed to take it to us quite easily in the first race.'

Mirsky's strategy for today ? 'We are going to re-group and then take him down,' Mirsky said.

Gilmour's ability to move his mind and performance forward from the drama of his quarter final match against Sebastien Col (French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge) was quite extraordinary. Five hard matches, a controversial technical decision on the results of the last match and then Gilmour and his Yanmar team were immediately back out on the water for their first semi-final match. They convincingly won against Mirsky.

'The most powerful tool in this game is your head and how you control it. It is the delicate balance between the raw power the sailors might have, the ability to look and pick up shifts, and their ability to control how they think.

'I think Torvar and Adam are students of the game and they are picking it up fast. Ian was in that position a couple of years ago, but he has broken through that level and is well and truly on his way. These youngsters are not that far behind.

'You have to remember I am more than double these bloke's age. They are both fabulous students of this game,' Gilmour said.

Mind games and some seriously great sailing is expected from Gilmour and his Yanmar team. But, will it be enough to push out Mirsky and secure a final berth in the 2008 Monsoon Cup ?

The weather forecast for today is breezy conditions gusting 12 to 16 knots, building to 20 knots in the afternoon.

Asia's ESPN Star Sport will telecast live from 2.30pm (local time) until the completion of the finals racing.

Watch the racing on the internet,