After a few years of absence, the Match Racing World Cup was back in Marstrand, a place considered by many to be the best arena in the world for sailing. The overall winner, for a record seventh time, was KSSS sailor Björn Hansen and his Extend Commerce Sailing team, with crew Nils Bjerkås, Mathias Bredin and Phillip Kai Guhle.
It’s unreal! We were away from the match racing circuit for seven years and when we accepted a wild card at Marstrand we saw a great week ahead of us in a nice place where we would fight hard to break the zero on the dash, says Björn Hansen. But the more the week progressed, the more we realized that our experience mixed with joy and motivation could go quite far.
ECST finished second in the main round after six wins and three losses, just behind world number two Jeppe Borch of Denmark, meaning in the quarter-finals they were paired with Swedish starlet Oscar Engström, who will be one of the mainstays of the recently announced Sweden’s junior bid for the America’s Cup. “We had trained against Oscar one day in Gothenburg before mid-summer and knew they were sailing the boat incredibly well. At the same time, we knew we had an advantage on the training day and that they had a certain respect for us,” says Nils Bjerkås. The KSSS crew managed to win against young Gothenburgs with 2-0 and qualify for the semi-finals, facing the Estonian Mati Sepp. The semi-final was also won 2-0 and now the team was in the final against world number one, American Chris Pool, who won the circuit’s last competition in Long Beach, California, after winning all groceries.
The final was a “best of three” and in the first final, ESCT took the lead but was both passed and overtaken. Plus, they incurred a couple of penalties, meaning the win went to Poole uncontested. Now the knife was at his throat and only victories mattered. “We pulled ourselves together and won two very close races where we managed to pass Chris’ team in both races. The feeling as we approached the finish line in the last race was magical. A few thousand people on Marstrandsön followed the sailings and really supported us,” concludes the team’s deckhand, Mathias Bredin.
The Match Cup Sweden victory was the team’s seventh over the years, something only legendary Peter Gilmour of Australia had achieved before.
The Extend Commerce Sailing Team represents the Royal Swedish Sailing Society, KSSS, and is supported by Ockelbo Boats and Helly Hansen.
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