Monsoon Cup - Double Champion Peter Gilmour looking for third title
While there is strong focus on the Monsoon Cup 2010, which will be sailed in Terengganu Malaysia this week as the final round of the ISAF World Match Racing Tour, the 12 teams competing for this ninth event on the 2010 Tour are very much aware this event carries overall prize money of US$475,000, making it the richest prize in sailing.
The Monsoon Cup itself is wide open, as World Match Racing Tour ranked 21st New Zealander Phil Robertson and his Waka Racing Team showed this week in Perth, Western Australia. Robertson knocked out the 2010 Tour leader Mathieu Richard (FRA) and left numbers 1, 3, 4 and 5 in his wake.
History shows however that the Monsoon Cup follows its own pattern.
The inaugural Monsoon Cup in 2005 was won by four-times ISAF Match Racing World Champion Peter Gilmour. Gilmour and his YANMAR Racing crew won again in 2008 and there is a feeling amongst the crews that Gilmour is especially dangerous at this event.
The veteran of five America's Cups has assembled a very solid and experienced team over the years. His pitman Yasuhiro Yaji (JPN) and bowman Kazuhiko Sofuku (JPN) (nicknamed Fuku) have been sailing with him for almost 20 years and his tactician and mainsheet hand Cameron Dunn (NZL) and his trimmer Thierry Douillard (FRA) have campaigned regularly with the elder statesman of the World Match Racing Tour.
For such a major event as the Monsoon Cup preparation is very important, so who does ‘Gilly' think is best prepared?
‘Three or four weeks ago I would have probably said Mathieu Richard as the 2010 Tour Leader was going to be the best placed for the Monsoon Cup but given what has happened at the Australia Cup, that changes things I think.
‘Richard is a real student of the game - he enjoys his team around him and builds confidence from them. I don't think he is necessarily affected by wins or losses or performance.
‘But his early exit from the Australia Cup will probably help build confidence for Ben Ainslie (GBR), Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and Adam Minoprio (NZL) and the ‘red hot' young Phil Robertson.
‘But preparation varies ahead of this major event. The simple reality is that everyone has their own style of operation and how they want to go about getting in form.
‘Some love to do a regatta, others like YANMAR Racing like to do a few days of practice as a team immediately before the event. So it is really up to the individuals to choose and decide on their own preparation.
‘In 2008 we won coming in cold, while a number of the top crews had spent time in Perth sailing the Foundation 36's.
‘In 2009 Adam Minoprio won the Monsoon Cup off the back of the Australia Cup. But we feel it's really not necessary for us. We've been sailing the Perth built Foundation 36's since they were first launched in 1992-93.
‘This year, four of us started practicing a few days ago then Cameron Dunn (NZL), who has been sailing with Mascalzone Latino at the Louis Vuitton series in Dubai, flew in and we are practicing hard.
‘We enjoy this regatta. I tend to prefer bigger boats because they favour good crew work. I am a big believer that match racing is a real team environment. I wouldn't exactly call myself the greatest helmsman in the world so the harder the boat is to sail with a team, the more competitive we are.
‘The more you require good helming, and typically that is the smaller the boat, I think our performance gets weaker in that environment.'
Gilmour continued. ‘Summing up for YANMAR Racing, I think we are looking forward to the conclusion of the 2010 World Tour and putting together a really good result and lifting our overall position.
‘We are also looking ahead to 2011 - we are excited for the future. I have lived in this game long enough to know that you have good years, bad years and ups and downs in your overall performance. That is the great thing about sport - you actually never know how you are going to go.'
There are 150 Championship points allocated to the top eight crews at the Monsoon Cup 2010: 1st=38points, 2nd=30, 3rd=22, 4th=18, 5th=15, 6th=12, 7th=9, 8th=6. Any of the current top five skippers have a chance of winning the World Match Racing Tour title and the next three, Radich, Bruni and Gilmour could move up to a top four place for the year.
Gilmour summed up by saying ‘The stature of the Monsoon Cup is now very significant, it is a 'stand alone' event. The prize money must create some pressure in what is certainly the pinnacle of the season.
‘YANMAR Racing have a real opportunity to move ourselves up into the top five and possibly beyond, at this event. So we know what we have got to do.
‘But the reality is that this is possibly the toughest event on the Tour to win and looking at the entry list, realistically there are probably ten teams that could take the Monsoon Cup 2010.'
YANMAR Racings World Match Racing Tour Results
2009 — fourth Overall
2008 — eighth Overall
2006-'07 — fifth Overall
2005-'06 — first Tour Champion
2004-'05 — first Tour Champion
2003-'04 — first Tour Champion
Overall 2000 — fourth Overall
Monsoon Cup Champions since its inception
2005 Peter Gilmour and Pizza-La Sailing Team
2006 Peter Holmberg and Alinghi Team
2007 Ian Williams and Team Pindar
2008 Peter Gilmour and YANMAR Racing
2009 Adam Minoprio and BlackMatch Racing
The 2010 Tour Leaderboard
1. Mathieu Richard / French Team* 105
2. Adam Minoprio / ETNZ/BlackMatch* 90
3. Ben Ainslie / TEAMORIGIN 88
4. Torvar Mirsky / Mirsky Racing Team* 76
5. Ian Williams / Team GAC Pindar 72
6. Jesper Radich / Gaastra Racing Team 60
7. Francesco Bruni / Azzura 53
8. Peter Gilmour / YANMAR Racing 51
For more news and information on YANMAR Racing, please visit http://www.yanmar.co.jp/en/racing/
To discover more about the World Match Racing Tour see http://www.worldmatchracingtour.com
And to discover more about YANMAR Marine go to: http://www.yanmarinemarine.com