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Ian Williams Wins World Match Racing Tour

Ian Williams had a spectacular final day of racing to clinch the title of 2015 World Match Racing Tour Champion.

January 30, 2016
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Ian Williams swept Taylor Canfield to take the win in Malaysia. Robert Hajduk

Ian Williams (GBR) dominated Taylor Canfield (ISV) to win the Final of the Monsoon Cup 3-0, sweeping the GAC Pindar skipper to his sixth World Championship title on the World Match Racing Tour. Williams has extended his record as the most successful match racing skipper in the history of the Tour.

While Canfield was getting the better of his arch-rival in the pre-starts, once out of the blocks GAC Pindar was just coaxing maximum speed out of the FarEast 28R keelboat on the challenging, ever-changing Straits of Johor.

The British skipper admitted that the US Virgin Islander had brought his “A game” to the pre-starts, as US One managed to stick penalties on GAC Pindar in both of the final two matches. However, Williams had a clear boatspeed edge that left Canfield scratching his head. The British skipper paid tribute to his team – mainsheet trimmer Gerry Mitchell, headsail trimmer Mal Parker and tactician Chris Main – for digging him out of a few holes.

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“I can’t say enough about these guys, I feel like I let them down a bit today. A fantastic job by all of them and to come back in that last race, buried off the line, a penalty down, to be able to overtake and sail away was just amazing. Chris was nailing the shifts, and Gerry and Mal were keeping us fast. We could cross when we needed to, and that was the key to that match.”

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Williams in action during the qualifying heats of the 2015 Monsoon Cup. Robert Hajduk

Canfield, the 2013 World Champion, was understandably downbeat. “After dominating all three starts, it’s definitely not what we hoped for,” said the US One skipper, for whom the new era of M32 multihull racing can’t come fast enough. “Ian and his guys sailed a hell of a day; they took down Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and took us down in the Finals. We thought we were going pretty well, starting well, but they simply outsailed us in the Finals. I’m looking forward to the next rematch.”

The previous evening, Canfield had attempted to upset team morale on GAC Pindar by announcing that he would be racing next season with Williams’ tactician, Chris Main. However, Williams said the announcement had achieved the opposite effect. “I think it really helped clear the air between me and Chris. It galvanized the team and really helped lift us to a higher level today. So, thanks for that Taylor!”

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And so the bitter rivalry continues as the Tour moves into multihulls. “It does feel like the end of an era,” said Williams of his time racing monohull keelboats, and now looking forward to a new format Tour in high-speed M32 catamarans. “It’s an era we’ve dominated, thanks to these guys, and thanks to GAC Pindar.”

In the Petit Final, Hansen beat Monnin 2-0 and took 3rd overall in the regatta. “We’re disappointed we didn’t manage to do better this time,” said the Swede. “We were quite depressed after we came in from the Semi Finals, but I have to admit after watching the Finals and what Ian and his team did, picking almost every shift, having fantastic speed in the boat, maybe we weren’t so bad. I’m extremely impressed with GAC Pindar. They really deserved the win this time.”

At the prize giving ceremony at the Hotel Jen in Puteri Harbour, His Royal Highness Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, The Sultan and Sovereign Ruler of The State and Territory of Johor Darul Ta’zim presented the Garrard-designed World Match Racing Tour Championship Trophy to Williams and his crew. Also in attendance was YB En Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, Malaysian Minister for Youth and Sports, and YB Dato’ Zulkurnain Hj Kamisan, Johor Youth, Sports, Culture and Heritage committee chairman.

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From a total prize purse of US$440,000 for the World Match Racing Tour, Williams’ season victory earns him US$80,000. He also receives 310,000 Malaysian Ringgits (approx US$75,000) for his Monsoon Cup victory. After finishing runner-up at the Monsoon Cup, Canfield finished 2nd overall in the Tour standings with Hansen 3rd for the season.

Now the teams have just a month to regroup and ready themselves for a very different challenge in Fremantle, Australia, where we will see 20 teams doing battle in M32 multihulls for the first time, competing on the World Match Racing Tour 2016.

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