Estonia wins thrilling Matchrace Thailand Championships

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Ten teams ventured to the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya over four days from 5-8 March to race in this year’s Matchrace Thailand Championships, supported by North Sails and Land Rover Thailand.  Entrants from Singapore, Japan, Estonia, Finland, Poland and Bahrain joined the hosts Thailand to give a wide international flavour to the event.  

Spectators gathered at the beach bar on all four days to watch the Platu 25 class yachts in action, with the crews fiercely battling during the pre-start and with boats maneuvering only inches apart.

The top three teams, representing Estonia, Singapore and Finland, squeeze onto the podium.The top three teams, representing Estonia, Singapore and Finland, squeeze onto the podium.

After the round-robin series over the first two days of the championships, it was local sailor Morten Jakobsen (THA) emphatically in the lead by winning eight of his matches and only losing one.  The top eight teams then progressed to the quarter finals with the seeding based on the results to date.  This drew Morten against the team from Bahrain skippered by Ebrahim Abdulla.  After two matches it was one win to each team leading to a very tense final match with the semi-final place at stake.  Ebrahim won the pre-start battle and led up to the first mark.  Despite a spirited effort from the Thai team, who never gave up, they were unable to close the gap and the team from Bahrain was through to the final four.

Match racing on the final day, Sunday, March 8.Match racing on the final day, Sunday, March 8.

Mati Sepp (EST) and Maximilian Soh (SIN) both won their matches against Marek Stanczyk (POL) and Jon Eriksson (FIN) respectively, with both of them winning two-zero.  This left an intriguing fight between the highest ranked skipper at the event, Staffan Lindberg (FIN), and the young Japanese team led by Kohei Inchikawa (JPN).  Eventually, after a close fight, it was the experience of Staffan that secured the final semi final place.

In the semi finals, Maximillian made no mistakes as he secured his place in the final by beating Ebrahim.  However, the second semi final had to go to a final deciding match with both Mati and Staffan level on wins.  It was a close finish to the race and as the boats crossed the line, Mati was just in the lead to take the win.

Platu 25 class boats provided a great platform for the teams to show off their sailing skills.Platu 25 class boats provided a great platform for the teams to show off their sailing skills.

In the petite final to decide third and forth places, Ebrahim and his team continued to show how much they were improving through the regatta by taking Staffan to a deciding match after each had one win in the best of three race battle.  With Staffan securing third place in their final match, there were still smiles aboard the Bahrain boat with their great fight up from eighth place after the first two days, to fourth place overall.

In the final, Mati took the first race but in the second it was Maximilian who took the lead at the start.  However the Singapore team had a problem with their spinnaker hoist at the top mark and Mati coolly took full advantage to overtake Maximilan and gain another win.  With both teams sailing at the top of their form, Mati had the advantage with Maximilian having to win the next three races if he was going to prevail.  However Mati and his team made no mistakes and continued their fine run of form by winning yet again to secure the top spot overall.

After four days of close racing in some great wind and sunshine, it was Mati Sepp (EST) who was proclaimed the Matchrace Thailand Champion at the prize giving ceremony held ashore at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club.

(All photos courtesy m.v. tchelistcheff)