It started with a bobble, needed a major comeback in the semi-finals, squeaked into the final on the last 50 metres of the deciding fifth race, and then Ian Williams went on to lift the Polish match racing championship in Sopot. Williams has won the world championship four times and wants it back for what would be a record fifth time and, if at times things seemed to be running against him, the gods were on his side when it mattered, even to cutting short his final against Mathieu Richard of France. The clock came to his aid when he was 2-1 up in the best of five and the celebrations could begin.
Williams, whose next battleground is Chicago at the end of next month, had been second in a round robin which saw the defending world champion Taylor Canfield of the US Virgin Islands drop only one match and win a bye to the semi-finals. He then beat Karol Jablonski 3-0 in the quarter final, started Sunday 0-2 down to Phil Robertson of New Zealand only to come back to 3-2, and then heard the bell ring to end the bout in his favour in the final.
Canfield beat Robertson 2-1 in their completed Petit Final but Williams has a solid lead going into the second half of the series, which includes the Argo Gold Cup in Bermuda – on an inner harbour course which would not be used for the America’s Cup – and will be decided at the double-scoring Monsoon Cup in Malaysia. He is 17 points clear of second-placed Richard and 24 ahead of Canfield.
“We are very, very happy to have won here. We have sailed well throughout the regatta apart from a little blip this afternoon when things got to us a little, but the guys just turned it around. All credit – the team has done a fantastic job today,” said Williams.
In Cowes, the Aberdeen Asset Management Week fleets enjoyed romping conditions on the second day of a regatta marked as family day. Monday is forecast for more good racing while Tuesday sees a sail past by HMS Mersey, with a cannon salute from the Royal Yacht Squadron, to mark the first shots fired in the North Sea in 1914.
As the clock ticks down to the deadline of midnight, Friday, Pacific time in San Francisco there are signs that there could be five entries for the 35 America’s Cup in 2017.
Both Italy’s Prada-backed Luna Rossa and Sweden’s Artemis Challenge are thought already to have lodged their $1,075,000 entry fee first tranches. Britain’s Ben Ainslie Racing has repeatedly said it will meet the time window and Team New Zealand, despite almost being discouraged by the Kiwi boss of the defending Oracle Team, Russell Coutts, has lawyers working both at home and the U.S. as boss Grant Dalton is in Europe on a trip that is scheduled to include participation in the Isle of Man TT Race.
The noises out of France are also sounding more positive, even though Franck Cammas is in Brazil for the Olympic test event in which he sails the new 17-foor Nacra catamaran and Michel Desjoyieaux is tipped to be more involved in Spain’s entry for the Volvo round the world race which starts in October.