Penalty whistles were playing a merry tune on the lake at St. Moritz and they sounded the death march of Britain’s Ian Williams out of what could have been a third consecutive win on the World Match Race Tour.
The mojo which had swept him and Team GAC Pindar to the top of the leaderboard with 10 wins to one loss in the round robin qualifier deserted him as the third most fancied of three French contestants continued a fine morning’s work that had seen Pierre-Antoine Morvan crush Johnnie Berntsen 3-0 in their quarter final.
He delivered the same fate to Williams and along the way managed to plant a penalty on Williams in their first pre-start, recover from twice being penalised in the second race, and then just sailed away from Williams in the third, reading brilliantly what is always a shifting breeze so high up in the Alps.
One of the benefits of being top dog in the round robin was a bye to the semi-finals for Williams. One of the drawbacks was being match-cold when it came to starting to race again.
“It was a frustrating afternoon for us,” said Williams afterwards. “It felt like the boat was stuck to the water all day. We definitely could have done a better job, especially changing gears with the headsails, but we still have a chance to go top overall on the 2011 series if we can win the third place play-off on Sunday.”
That will be against Björn Hansen of Sweden who, in the other semi-final, was beaten 3-1 by the Australian Torvar Mirsky. One penalty whistle too many had the French management team ashore tut-tutting a decision by the umpires which allowed Mirsky to snatch a quarter final win over Mathieu Richard by 3-2. The umpires were convinced their decision was correct.
The only worry on a sunny day with the wind fluctuating between five and 15 knots was the forecast for Sunday. Rain and no wind was the grim prediction.