Williams continues fine form in World Match Race Tour


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The Independent Online

Double world match racing champion Ian Williams moved a step closer to three World Match Race Tour wins in a row by notching up seven wins from eight starts in the fight for places in the knockout phase at St. Moritz, high in the Swiss Alps.

Off the back of victories in Portugal and Sweden, Williams is enjoying the tricky conditions on a lake which hosts very different events when frozen in winter. He won here in 2007.

Prime task for Friday is to top the 12-skipper table. That would allow him to by-pass the quarter finals straight to the semi-finals and the points from that alone would move him to second overall in the 2011 cumulative championship.

One of his remaining opponents is 2011 leader Francesco Bruni, but the Italian has a 3-4 score, compared with Williams’ 7-1. A failure even to make the quarter-final cut was, said one of Bruni’s star crew, Matteo Auguadro, “unthinkable”.

“This is one of my good tracks,” said Williams. “I think it makes for good racing because often if you win the start in match racing – and we consider starting one of our strengths – it is all over. Here you have to pick what the wind is doing and there are always opportunities to overtake.”

He also has a settled team which is growing in strength as it sails together but knows that, whatever the outcome here or at the penultimate regatta in Bermuda, everything will be decided at the Monsoon Cup on the Terengganu coast of Malaysia. Stages in late November, it scores points and a half and Williams will have to work for every one of them.

British Olympian and yacht designer Derek Clark started work Thursday as head coach for America’s Cup challenger China Team ahead of the next World Series regatta which starts on 9 September in Plymouth.

He will be working with new skipper, the American 2004 Olympic silver medallist Charlie Ogletree is promoted from tactician, and new helmsman, the Austrian Andreas Hagara, with the long-term aim of integrating more and more Chinese sailors into the race team.

Clark was crew for Phil Crebbin in the 470 dinghy at the 1976 Olympic Games in Canada. He has been a coach for the British Olympic squad and was a designer on the team that produced the radical multihull, Blue Arrow, when Peter de Savary tried to join the American catamaran versus New Zealand big boat mismatch that was the America’s Cup in San Diego in 1988.

The China Team appointments, which follow the departure of Mitch Booth following the inaugural regatta in Cascais, Portugal, indicate both the determination and the financial ability of the Shanghai-based group to put together a campaign which includes the design and build of a 72-foot wing-powered catamaran for when the America’s Cup proper begins. Booth joins the Plymouth commentary team.