Reigning world match racing champion Ian Williams was being taken for a ride on Thursday afternoon.
After winning his Match Race France quarter final against the man who won it last year, Damien Iehl, he was aboard a 70-foot trimaran, Foncia, with one of France’s great singlehanders, twice winner of the Vendée Globe singlehanded round the world classic, Michel Desjoyeaux.
The MOD70s are sharing the same Roucas Blanc marina, east along the Corniche, and will be conducting some local races before leaving on Sunday for the final offshore leg of their European tour to Genoa. On a day off they took the opportunity to host some of the match race skippers and the Spanish women’s Olympic match race gold medallists, Tamara Echegoyen Dominguez, Sofia Toro Prieto Puga, and Angela Pumariega Menendez.
The match racers are out in the morning and early afternoon; the trimarans will race separately on Friday and Saturday, by which time Williams should know how much he has closed the gap on Bjorn Hansen as they race for the 2012 Alpari crown, a title which would give Williams a record-equalling four wins.
“There was the possibility of a banana skin in the quarter final but we avoided that and came through with flying colours,” said Williams. “Still, I feel there is more to come from this team in this event, but, as always, it will be the Monsoon Cup finale in Malaysia which will be the decider.” The Team GAC Pindar line-up sees Williams joined by Gerry Mitchell, Matt Cassidy, and Chris Main.
Top qualifier Laury Jury will pick his semi-final opponent from fellow-Kiwi William Tiller, Williams, or Keith Swinton (AUS). Said losing quarter finalist Peter Gilmour of his fellow-Australian: “They won the last event and they are sailing really well. They could go all the way again.”