Maintaining the Standard of Excellence
Published on June 19th, 2014
“It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there.” – Mia Hamm (USA), FIFA World Player of the Year, 2001 and 2002
After Taylor Canfield and his USone Sailing Team rocketed to the top of international match racing in 2013, winning the World Match Racing Tour and ISAF Match Racing World Champion title, the focus for the team is to now maintain the standard.
The US Virgin Islander passed his first test in April at the 50th Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA, where Canfield’s team beat out 4-Time Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) in the Finals.
But the measure is the Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT), and when the 2014 season got underway in Germany on June 5-9, it was Williams that won the opening event while Canfield finished in seventh. Here Canfield reflects on the start of the Tour…
The first stop for the 2014 season in Langenargen on Lake Constance did not end great for us. While there was a lot of publicity surrounding us being the #1 ranked team and defending AWMRT World Champion, this was not the reason for our 7th place result.
With no more than about 6 knots (maybe less) all week, and the use of big, heavy, slow-accelerating Bavaria 40s, the light air became even harder as maneuvers were extremely costly. Momentum and minimizing maneuvers was the name of the game. To make things worse, the race committee was under a ton of pressure to get the whole format, which allowed for some races to be sailed in un-raceable conditions.
Having sailed quite well through the early part of the qualifying round, we were forced to sail the MHP boat for our final three qualifying races. This boat was the ‘known dog’ in the fleet and had only won one race in the entire event. With our three toughest races in the event, we knew we were on the cusp of making the quarters if we were to lose all three races.
Getting off the line even and ahead in our first two races was not enough as Mathieu Richard (FRA) and Phil Robertson (NZL) quickly sailed around us and extended around the course. So we decided to be a bit more aggressive in our final race against Williams.
We led off the line in the first start with a penalty on Williams, but the race was soon abandoned due to a race committee error. In the second start, we were behind but Williams was given a red flag penalty. This immediately put him behind us and very slow. We tacked on his breeze twice and he simply sailed through our bad air and up and around us. So frustrating!
However, with a little luck we still made it through to the quarter-finals as the 7th seed, and ended up paired with Keith Swinton (AUS). Our confidence was high, the slow boat had been taken out of the rotation, and we have been very successful against Swinton in the past. But the following day we simply got out-sailed by the Australian team.
I think this disappointing result in Germany is enough to get the team more amped than ever to work hard and come in swinging at the next Tour event in Sweden.
Stena Match Cup Sweden on June 30-July 5 will be the second stop on the seven event Alpari World Match Racing Tour, the leading professional match racing series sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Prize money is awarded for each event, with event points culminating in the crowning of the “ISAF Match Racing World Champion”. Tour website: www.wmrt.com