King ben takes the Monsoon Cup 2010
A thrilling five race final at the 2010 Monsoon Cup, which is the ninth and final event on the ISAF World Match Racing Tour.
Ben Ainslie and TEAMORIGIN demonstrated why they are champions, this afternoon completing the double, securing both the 2010 ISAF Match Racing World Championship and the prestigious Monsoon Cup.
Sailed from the purpose built Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort and Spa in Kuala Terengganu in Malaysia, the Monsoon Cup is the richest event on the Tour card and has on offer more points than any other Tour event.
Coming into this event a lot was a stake – the Monsoon Cup 2010 and the ISAF Match Racing World Championship.
Mathieu Richard (French Match Racing Team) came into the regatta with a large Tour Championship lead. Defending ISAF World Champion Adam Minoprio (ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing) was chasing hard and mathematically, three others skippers were also in World title running.
The last few days have produced exciting match racing out on Pulau Duyong. The conditions have been mainly light and tricky, torrential Monsoon rains swelling the river and producing current, testing skippers and tacticians alike.
Earlier, on this final day, Ben Ainslie and his TEAMORIGIN crew – Iain Percy, Christian Kamp, Matthew Cornwell and Mike Mottle, became the new ISAF Match Racing World Champions.
After choosing Richard as his quarter final opponent, Ainslie went about demolishing the French skipper leaving Richard with a very slim hope of taking the World title. Richard had to finish fifth or higher in the Monsoon Cup to take the win. Defeat in the sail-offs ended that hope.
The Final of the Monsoon Cup got underway in about 12-14 knots of breeze. The rain stopped and the sun finally showed through the clouds.
At the start of Race one Ainslie wanted a split tack right side and he got it. Mirsky was on the pin; it was an even start. In the current Mirsky was going faster, squeezing up and spat Ainslie out. Mirsky crossed ahead by a length, and on the second cross lee-bowed Ainslie.
Then sensation as Ainslie hit the top mark - a penalty for an unforced error. Ainslie made the wrong choice of bottom mark and Mirsky sailed back into the lead. Mirsky was sailing faster than Ainslie. Ainslie attempted to put the squeeze on his rival up the beat but Mirsky's boat just seems a little faster.
Mirsky extended down the last run with Ainslie behind and carrying a penalty.
An impressive first race win to the Mirsky Racing Team.
On water, Mirsky seemed composed and commented ‘We felt Ben had more speed but the current on the left took us through. We made a mistake on the down wind. We were fortunate to get the correct mark.'
Ainslie said ‘We got the start we wanted but the current was a bigger factor than we expected and Mirsky sailed around us. We had a miscommunication at bottom mark - we gave the race away there.'
Race 2 was a three lap race. In the pre-start Ainslie was on the right again, high and fast off the line but soon in soft air. Mirsky found current and more pressure. Ainslie bailed, the pressure seemed to be telling.
Ainslie on starboard forced a penalty on Mirsky, in a close tack. It was all even when Ainslie was penalised at the top mark. Mirsky was right on Ainslie's stern, with the penalties clear. Ainslie reassured his crew and made a gain down the run. Both boats went around the same mark. Close up the beat, Mirsky was forced to tack away. Ainslie led at the top mark for the second time by four lengths, Mirsky was too far back to throw a spinnaker wind shadow on his rival.
Down the run Ainslie and crew decided there was more pressure on the right and headed that way. Mirsky went to the opposite mark. Ainslie crossed ahead by two lengths but Mirsky was now on the right and had better pressure. He closed up at the top mark, but was not close enough to attack and Ainslie won.
Torvar Mirsky said simply ‘Ben sailed well.'
Ainslie also was to the point. ‘A better race for us, but speed is an issue.'
Race 3 was a two lap race. Mirsky escaped a close penalty call and was fast away. Ainslie was slow near the Committee boat. Ainslie was clearly very unhappy after the green flag was raised.
Mirsky had more speed and was a length ahead of the still unsettled Ainslie. Mirsky forced Ainslie away and got a left hand shift, a big gain for the West Australian who round by two lengths. Ainslie gybed into a puff then Mirsky up ahead took the same option.
The breeze continued to freshen as Mirsky went to the left. Ainslie split to the right, but Mirsky was three lengths ahead, he tacked and covered his rival. Then another tack and another covering tack. With an eighty metre lead Mirsky headed down the run for the last time to take the gun.
A 2-1 lead to Mirsky and match point.
After crossing the line Ainslie apologised to his crew for the start. He commented ‘When Torvar received the second green flag he was better placed than us. He sailed well after that.'
Mirsky was smiling. ‘If we win the next one we are home. Ben is an aggressive sailor, so we have to be careful and keep clean.‘
For Race 4, Officials raised the W3 flag – three crucial laps. It was ‘do or die' for TEAMORIGIN and MRT's chance to win the Monsoon Cup.
Mirsky on the pin won the start. Ainslie and crew were almost a length late. Mirsky forced the Brits away.
It was close on the first cross, on the second Mirsky had stepped out to three lengths, but it closed up near the top mark and Ainslie was close enough to attack, giving a little dirty air to the leader. Ainslie on starboard dialled up and took the lead. Mirsky followed Ainslie around the mark. Close tacking, then Mirsky split left and gained.
Ainslie was just ahead at the top mark, the boats just a metre apart. Ainslie whispered a dummy gybe, but Matt Cornwall on the bow did not hear and unclipped the pole, quickly putting it back. He copped an earful from his skipper, but the dummy worked.
The dummy gybe threw MRT off and close to the bottom mark Ainslie was ahead by about two lengths. The distances remained unchanged up the windward leg.
Super crew work from TEAMORIGIN in the spinnaker hoist, MRT responded with an excellent hoist. Ainslie went right, Mirsky left. On the final leg, Ainslie gybed to the line, MRT followed but was running out of runway. Another gybe and Ainslie crossed ahead.
What a big occasion win from behind by Ainslie and TEAMORIGIN.
An exciting climax to the Monsoon Cup with the scores all tied up, 2-2.
Race 5 was ‘Winner Take all' and the final battle.
Ainslie was control in the pre-start. Mirsky was over the line early but Ainslie slowed so much pushing Mirsky that the start was actually very even. Mirsky was out on the right in a big puff, Iain Percy called for two tacks to get more pressure and the British crew picked up five lengths.
At the bottom mark the lead remained unchanged. From behind Mirsky was wriggling looking for better pressure and separation, but Ainslie covered every move.
Mirsky and his team realised their dream was gone as they watched Ainslie and his TEAMORIGIN crew sailing to victory.
High fives and hugs aboard TEAMORIGIN as the horns blasted across the water.
Mirsky and his team waved acknowledgement to the winners.
Dockside Mirsky was smiling in defeat. ‘They put the pressure on us and found the better lanes down wind and gradually got our measure. We've come such a long way, thanks to the team, but we will be fighting next year to take the title.
‘We've been really trying hard all season, but we've just not seen the results. So to make the Final has been a huge boost and we take third place in the World Championship.
‘To sail against Ben, Iain and crew and take them to five is something we are proud of.
‘They are great champions and they have all those medals and trophies for a reason. You can see the professionalism in their smoothness and their tactics.'
Ainslie summed up. ‘Two wins today - a world championship and the Monsoon Cup. We are thrilled.
‘Torvar and his guys put up a great fight. TEAMORIGIN bows out with these two wins today.
'We are going our separate ways with Olympic campaigns and other programs but we hope one day in the future we will be back.
'The Monsoon Cup is definitely a showcase - a world class event and we are very pleased to have won the event.
'What we did better than anyone else was dealing with the changing conditions at this venue. This season we were only able to do six regattas out of the nine so consistency was the key. When Adam Minoprio went out, we felt that we had a chance.'
Double Olympic Gold Medallist and TEAMORIGIN tactician Iain Percy added 'It's an interesting and difficult place to sail. It's been a tough season for TEAMORIGIN but to finish with this World Championship makes it worthwhile.'
In the Petite Final, Danish skipper Jesper Radich (Gaastra Racing Team) defeated Sweden's Bjorn Hansen (Hansen Global Team) 2-0.
Radich, with three second places in his three starts this season (Argo Gold Cup, Stena Match Cup and Match Cup Germany) finished third at the Monsoon Cup, taking home a share of the considerable prize money.
Monsoon Cup 2010 Final Results.
Monsoon Cup Champion 2010 - Ben Ainslie (TEAMORIGIN) defeated Torvar Mirsky (Mirsky Racing Team) 3-2.
Jesper Radich (Gaastra Racing Team) defeated Bjorn Hansen (Hansen Global Team).
Adam Minoprio, the 2009 ISAF Match Racing World Champion and Monsoon Cup winner congratulated Ainslie.
‘Congratulations to Ben and his Team, they have sailed well all year. They have shown they are indeed World Champions.'