Runaway Match Race victory goes to Team Singapore in Thailand Open

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The third and final day of the Thailand Open National Match Race Championship at Pattaya’s Varuna Yacht Club brought the typical fantastic weather, including plenty of sun and bright skies to the relief of the competitors.

The resolution to the outstanding questions from the first two days of the event happened when the teams of Jaray Tipsuk and Team Hong Kong battled it out for the remaining spot of the semi finals bracket.  The exciting match saw team HK get the better start and lead at the 1st of 3 rounding marks, however team Jaray sailed superbly on the last part of the leg with the wind from behind, and went on to win the race.

The victorious young lions from Singapore. (Photographer Alex Samaras)The victorious young lions from Singapore. (Photographer Alex Samaras)

As the winner of the round robin part of the event, Team Finland had the benefit of being able to choose their semifinal opponent, as expected they chose to sail against team Jaray.  More importantly, they chose to avoid meeting the very high ranked team from Estonia and the young lions from Singapore, who were the only team to beat Finland in the round robin part.

The blow by blow accounts of the semi finals, which were sailed best of 3 races, are as follows:

Race 1: Team Finland against Team Jaray; Clear victory to Team Finland.

Race 2:  Was much more to the spectators liking, with great battling in the pre-start resulted in team Jaray inflicting a penalty on Team Finland before crossing the start line.  As allowed by the rules of Match Race, Team Finland chose to delay taking the penalty, and used good speed to gain enough distance so they could do a full circle 360 degree turn and thereby clear the penalty, however the boats were extremely close when passing the first rounding mark, and continued with this small distance gap the entire way towards the finish line.

Close racing between Silver medalists Team Finland and Team EM/Thailand. (Photo/Su Ann Khoo)  Close racing between Silver medalists Team Finland and Team EM/Thailand. (Photo/Su Ann Khoo)

Team Finland held the most slender of leads, when they did a quick turn towards the wind and caught Team Jaray by surprise resulting in Team Jaray receiving a penalty as well.  The spectators admired the brilliantly executed move, which was like a check-mate in Chess; and cheered from the bear bar as this tactic brought Team Finland into the final with a 2:0 win.

Second semi final: Team Estonia against Team Singapore:

Race 1: Mati Sepp from Team Estonia dominated the pre-start, and held back his opponent using the traffic rules of sailing, however this was of little use, when Team Singapore showed excellent spinnaker handling and more importantly awareness of the conditions by using a change in the wind direction to gain the lead and take a close victory.

Race 2: Team Singapore got an even start, and just seemed to find a higher gear than their opponents, after being in the lead at the first mark, they never looked back and took the win to gain entry to the Final.

In the race for 3rd and 4th place, Team Estonia took revenge from their earlier losses by winning the critical start and pulled away all the way to the finish to take 3rd place in the event.  The spectators noted that Team Jaray had displayed superb effort by placing 4th place in the hotly contested event, beatingL many higher ranked teams.

When the start time for the final approached, the spectators inundated the beach bar at Royal Varuna Yacht Club, which offered the best view possible of the racecourse.  With the starting line of the race only 50m away from the bar, the spectator area and the huge sofa provide possibly the best facilities for spectators at any event in Asia.

The finals were also sailed best of 3 races.  In the first race, the two teams had an even start, and chose to trust their own boat pace and instincts to find favorable winds.  Both teams seemed evenly matched, and met once near the first rounding mark when Team Singapore switched to the opposite side of their opponents by turning behind them.  Team Finland chose not to follow and cover their opponent, perhaps a critical error in the outcome of this race.  The Singaporeans somehow found stronger wind on the right hand side of the course and rounded the fist mark slightly in front, concluding in a win for Team Singapore.

After switching boats, race 2 saw a slight change of tactics from Team Finland, becoming much more aggressive in the pre-start.  They were aware of the lethal pace of their opponents and would under no circumstance want to let them get an even start.

Both teams used the protest flags several times to indicate a foul by the opponent.  However, the two umpires were constantly circling the action and waived off all situations; no rules had been broken in their opinion.  In the end it was an even start between the two teams.

As feared by team Jon, with clear wind ahead of them Team Singapore found their high gear again in the new boat.  The pace allowed them to pull ahead and win the final 2:0 thereby becoming the new Open National Champions of Thailand.

Estonia take on India in one of the round-robin events. (Photographer Alex Samaras) Estonia take on India in one of the round-robin events. (Photographer Alex Samaras)

Team Finland can take pride in the fact of being honored the best Thailand based team, and Team Jaray was the first team of all Thai nationals.

In hindsight it was a great event and thanks go to the sailors, the sponsors- Siam Winery and Melchers, Royal Varuna Yacht Club – and to the spectators.

The next event will be a Grade 5 event in June, followed by a Grade 3 event in September.  For more information on MatchRace Thailand events, please visit: www.matchracethailand.com.