Thunder, lightning, and a rainstorm of Wagnerian proportions provided a dramatic backdrop for the latest Alpari World Match Racing Tour win for defending champion Ian Williams and his Team GAC Pindar.
Conditions had looked less than promising for the final of the French championship, light winds persuading the race committee to shorten Williams’ final against New Zealander Will Tiller from best of five to best of three.
Williams won the start and maintained control of the first race but was behind in the second when both crews saw a rain line coming at them. Under its threatening cloud was a switch from 10 knots of wind to 25 and Williams paid tribute to the way his crew reacted, changing gear, adjusting all the settings and giving him a chance to sneak the lead at the third and last turning mark.
“After that we defended to the finish,” he said. “It was pretty exciting and I am sure that our considerable experience counted for a lot.” It also meant his second win on the tour this year which, added to a win in the Congressional Cup, means he has won three of his six outings this year so far.
Williams and crew stayed overnight at a London Gatwick hotel before flying to Bermuda on Sunday for the Argo Gold Cup but all now rests on the clash between Williams and Sweden’s Bjorn Hansen not just to decide the 2012 world champion but also whether Williams can grab a record-equalling fourth title. Does it matter to him? “Yes, it does,” he said emphatically.
Mixed conditions also face the five MOD 70-foot trimarans racing on the same water ahead of leaving for the final offshore leg of their inaugural European tour. The 602-mile course, starting Sunday, takes them round Menorca to Genoa and they face light winds interspersed by squally storms.
Hoping to repeat their success in the race from Cascais, Portugal, to Marseille Sidney Gavignet, skipper of Musandam-Oman Sail, was still in cautious mood. “We have progressed little by little throughout the season,” he said, “but we still have a way to go with our learning curve. That is what Oman Sail is all about, that and using sport to bring about major changes in the lives of young Omanis, men and women. On this next leg we have everything to fight for,” he added.
Still setting the MOD70 pace are Michel Desjoyeaux’s Foncia and Yann Guichard, recovering from injury on Spindrift. Guichard will do the leg to Genoa, meaning the Loick Peyron returns to AC45 duty in San Francisco for the world series regatta starting on Tuesday.