Ian Williams confirmed his match racing calibre this weekend (14-16 November) as the quadruple World Champion scooped a fifth RYA National Match Racing title at Queen Mary Sailing Club.
The Lymington based skipper now joins Mark Campbell-James and two-time Olympian and America's Cup sailor Andy Beadsworth at the top of the all-time winners list with five wins each.
The Championships got underway in a light five-six knot breeze on Friday (14 November) with results going very much according to the seedings, however the big match of the afternoon saw Ali Hall beat the world number two and former world champion leaving Williams with it all to do after the opening day's eight flights of round-robin.
With no racing possible on Saturday (15 November) due to very little wind, Sunday again started with a light five-six knot breeze with the racing more varied with unexpected wins and losses for many of the teams.
Williams, and his crew at the event, Gerry Mitchell, Simon Shaw and the British Keelboat Academy's James French, found their winning rhythm taking nothing but race wins, while Hall who had led after Friday's racing with five wins was only able to win one of his four races. The breeze dropped early in the afternoon and the decision was made to finish the programme at the end of the round-robin stage, handing Williams event honours with eight out of nine race wins.
A delighted Williams said: "It is always satisfying to win any match racing regatta. We were obviously the most experienced team but in match racing it is all about the performance on the day and you've still got to get the job done so we were pleased to come out on top in the end. Conditions were mainly on the light side, but the Race Committee did a great job of getting all the racing away which were good fair races.
"After losing to Ali Hall in our sixth race we needed to win all our remaining three races and hope that he slipped up along the way, so when we crossed the finish line in our last race we did not know if we had won or not as we did not know his results. Fortunately for us Ali had lost some races so we came out on top," explained the 37-year-old.
The event saw a real hike in standard this year with the quality of sailing in the round-robin stages evidently higher throwing up a real mix of results between sailors.
"We last competed in the RYA National Match Racing Championships two years ago and I think the standard has definitely improved a great deal in that time. We were behind at some point in four out of our nine races and really had to fight for all our wins. It was just really good fun to get out and do some racing in the UK as we don't get to sail at home very often."
Next up for Williams and his GAC Pindar Team are the finals of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour in Malaysia in February where they will be going for a fifth World Title.
The final scores showed a tie between Mark Lees, Tom Mallindine and Ali Hall each with six wins. As Lees had beaten both Mallindine and Hall in the round robin he gained second overall with Mallindine taking third. The British Sailing Team's Olympic classes sailor Nick Thompson took fifth on his first outing into match racing while Annabel Vose finished sixth.
David Campbell-James, RYA Match Racing Chairman, commented: "It was a good weekend with all the top British match racers attending, although slightly disappointing that we only had two days of racing. We now move back to the RYA Winter Match Racing series in the Elliotts at Weymouth and Portland over the coming winter months."
2014 RYA National Match Racing Grand Final Results
1st Ian Williams - Gerry Mitchell, Simon Shaw, James French.
2nd Mark Lees - Matt Haslam, James Hemingway, Scott Flannigan.
3rd Tom Mallindine - Steve Aiken, James Anderson, Liam Gardener
4th Alistair Hall - Sam Carter, Simon Skinner, Ashley Rudd
5th Nick Thompson - Nic Asher, Richard Mason, Charlotte Lawrence, Lizzy Chellew.
6th Annabel Vose - Suzy Russell, Amy Prime, Hannah Peters, Will Semken.
7th Connor Millar - Mike Matthews, Harry Houlding, Bruno Van Dyke.
8th Mark Campbell-James - Graham Sunderland, Jonathan Taylor, Andy Clark.
9th Nick Wilkinson - Cam Douglas, Fergus Barnham, Hermione Stanley, Frederick Brown.
10th Tom Harrison - Jamie Diamond, Bradley Mclaughlin, Kate Devereux, Maddy Anderson.
For more information on the RYA National Match Racing Series please visit www.rya.org.uk/racing.