Ian Williams forced to wait amid congestion in Marseille


Two events on the same piece of water can lead to problems, not least as the deciding, fifth race of the French Match Race semi-final kept Britain’s Ian Williams and the Australian Keith Swinton stooging around for over an hour and half as the MOD70s started two races off Marseille.

Having taken a 2-0 lead, Williams, the reigning Alpari World Match Race champion, and his Team GAC Pindar then lost the next two. He made no mistakes in the decider and faces William Tiller, who whacked fellow-Kiwi Laury Jury in the other semi, in the final.

Just by making the final, Williams has overtaken the previous overall leader of the eight-regatta 2012 tour, Bjorn Hansen, and made sure he is in with a crack at a fourth title, whatever happens next week at the Argo Bermuda Gold Cup, when they meet in Malaysia for the Monsoon Cup in December.

Meanwhile the big trimarans were charging up and down with Michel Desjoyeaux in Foncia ruling a roost which had been the nursery of Oman Sailing’s French skipper, Sidney Gavignet. Alongside Gavignet, Britain’s Brian Thompson, more of an offshore man who recently helped Loick Peyron set a new record for sailing round the world, was revelling in the development of his inshore racing skills.

Thompson and Gavignet’s end of term report, even though it does not finish until Tuesday in Genoa, will see an alpha in every column from the managers of Oman Sail. The MOD70 team has been making steady improvement, the results have seen them progress from chasing to setting the pace, and the highest profile project in a programme to encourage sailing in Oman has been equally successful on the Extreme Sailing Series.

Within that the sultanate is incorporating sailing in its extensive programme to involve more women in sport. “We are communicating better, we are sailing better, and, most important of all, our confidence level is much higher,” says Thompson.

“We have more of a winning attitude, we are now thinking of ways to attack our rivals and we are sailing beyond our original expectations.”

Thompson hopes to be back for a second tour of Europe next year, though details of that have yet to be announced. As have the stops for the 2014-15 new Volvo round the world race in the new standard 65-foot boats.

The TP52s, who have elected British-based Niklas Zennström of Rán fame as their new president, include two US regattas before returning to the Mediterranean for their 2013 season. They need to attract more boats to boost the usual tally of five and organiser Lars Böcking hopes that sponsor partnerships with individual boats, perhaps eventually for the circuit as a whole, will be the way forward.

One of the major backers, Quantum Sails, is ready to stick with the class. “There is an element of being patient and taking the pain until the world economy bounces back,” says ceo Ed Reynolds.