WMRT – Ian Williams won a record-equalling fourth ISAF Match Racing World Championship today after beating his arch rival Bjorn Hansen in the Quarter- Final of the Monsoon Cup, the finale of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.
Williams has equalled the record of Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, who had earlier this week announced his intention to retire after this event. Reflecting on his feat, Williams, said: “It’s incredible to match Peter Gilmour on four world titles… it’s indescribable really. The knees were turned to jelly [in the first race] and it showed in our sailing. The guys did a great job of keeping me calm and re-focused. When we relaxed it was very hard for him to beat us. It’s been a great season – we’ve made six of seven semi-finals in the regattas we’ve competed in.”
Gilmour’s decision to retire gives Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar the opportunity to take the record next season with a fifth Tour title: “He’s [Peter Gilmour] such a legend in the sport and now I really feel we can go on and win some more. We’ll look forward the latter stages here then look at doing it all again in 2013.”
William’s opponent, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team, came through the Qualifying stage in second and chose to face his fierce rival instead of several other, lower ranked options. Hansen held a superior head-to-head record against his British challenger in the knockout stages of the previous seven Tour events in 2012 but may not have accounted for the strength of Williams at the biggest event of the year.
The World Championship defining match started well for the Swede as he recovered from an unforced error in the prestart by making the most of a big left shift in the first upwind. Having cleared his penalty on the second leg, Hansen maintained a six boat length lead to win the first match.
The errors continued for Hansen in the second match as he failed to enter the prestart area correctly resulting in a penalty. That was compounded by a second infringement, when he touched the top mark which forced him to take an immediate penalty turn. Unable to recover in that match, and losing out in the third, left him 2-1 down, with Williams on World Championship point, and seemingly not feeling the pressure of the occasion.
Williams led throughout the fourth and final match, although numerous spirited challenges by Hansen kept things close all the way to the finish line. A last throw of the dice by Hansen saw the Mekonomen Sailing Team split away to the left which had paid dividends for Williams earlier. It looked as though Hansen might have the boat speed to achieve an unlikely comeback, but ultimately Williams closed out the tie to progress to the event Semi Final and take the prestigious Alpari World Match Racing Tour title.