Spindrift racing finished their season on the international match racing circuit tonight (Friday) after losing their quarter-final against New Zealander Phil Robertson, in Marstrand. Even if there was clearly some disappointment in the eyes of the Spindrift sailors on their return to the pontoon, overall it has been positive debut for them. This season on the World Match Racing Tour, the internationally-renowned circuit, has been a big challenge for Spindrift, who had a new boat to handle and were jumping in at the deep end in the very specialised art of match racing. In their first season, Yann Guichard, the only French skipper invited onto the tour, and his team have made their mark and competed with the leading lights on the tour. After four stages raced on three continents, they made it onto one podium and reached the semi-finals three times. The team in black and gold, who approached this season with humility, will begin next year aiming for the world title. Next up for the Spindrift racing team: the Transat Québec-Saint Malo in a few days.
Yann Guichard and his team made a promising start to this competition during the qualifiers earlier in the week. Their choice of options was decisive during the fleet races, particularly at the upwind gate, where the competitors all arrived very close together. Guichard stood out by reacting fast and controlling his opponents, and qualified for the last 16. On Thursday, after 3 winning matches (3-0) against the Swiss team led by Eric Monnin, Guichard and his crew won their place in the quarter-finals of the Sweden Cup '16. A stable wind of over 20 knots meant there was no respite for the duellists, who needed all their mastery as they tried to control both their boat and their opponent. Once back on the pontoon, Guichard reviewed the day of racing: “It's a pretty positive day as we won 3 matches,” he said. “The conditions weren’t easy because there was a lot of wind and particularly some rough seas. The manoeuvres were difficult and we’re happy because we won two starts out of three.”
Guichard then got ready to meet New Zealander Phil Robertson in the quarterfinals. Guichard knew Robertson would be a formidable opponent because he defeated Spindrift in the semi-finals in the event in Newport, USA. The quarter-finals took place on Friday in front of an ever bigger crowd, but in lighter airs. The first man to go out was Ian Williams, the six-time world champion, beaten by Chris Steele, who earned his place in the semi-finals. Taylor Canfield, Phil Robertson and Matt Jerwood also qualified.
Yann Guichard looking back on this last match and the season as a whole: “We lost 3-0 against Phil Robertson. It was our starts particularly that lost us the matches. We’re out at the quarter-finals. Out of four events this year we made three semi-finals and a quarter-final, so, overall it’s been positive even if there’s some disappointment. We had sailed well until today. Today, we weren’t quite as good, but the conditions were really difficult, the wind was very unstable, there was a very small field of play and we weren’t really able to get into our stride. Congratulations to Phil Robertson and his crew, they sailed well. We joined this tour to learn and I’m happy with the team, they sailed incredibly well, we managed to train a bit this year, but I don’t think it was enough. So, we’re going to work twice as hard and keep training even more this season because the next season is going to start again soon, in September, in Asia. So, I hope that we’ve qualified to be able to do the whole 2016-2017 calendar.”
Spindrift racing’s rankings on the WMRT:
3rd place, Fremantle - Australia (World Match Racing Tour)
4th place, Copenhagen - Denmark (World Match Racing Tour)
4th place, Newport - USA (World Match Racing Tour)
6th place, Marstrand - Sweden (World Match Racing Tour)