London, UK - The Monsoon Cup has announced that Bjorn Hansen (SWE), Hansen Global Team, will be the Wildcard entrant for the World Match Racing Tour’s championship deciding finale in Malaysia, which will be staged from 30 November to 5 December.
Hansen said, “I actually think Ben [Ainslie] will win, he’s in good form. Having not looked too good in Denmark he was right back to his very best in Bermuda. I think TEAMORIGIN pulling out of the America’s Cup means that he can now fully focus on match racing. I think he’ll win in Malaysia and is the one we all have to beat.”
Hansen, who has a strong record at the Monsoon Cup having twice finished on the podium, is relishing the chance of getting back to Kuala Terengganu and signing off his season with a strong performance.
Before heading out to Malaysia Hansen gave the following interview to the World Match Racing Tour
Who do you think deserves to win the title this year, and who do you think will win?
Hansen: I actually think Ben [Ainslie] will win, he’s in good form. Having not looked too good in Denmark he was right back to his very best in Bermuda. I think TEAMORIGIN pulling out of the America’s Cup means that he can now fully focus on match racing. I think he’ll win in Malaysia and is the one we all have to beat. I’m not sure about the other results, but that will probably be enough for him to win the title.*
*WMRT - if Ainslie wins the Monsoon Cup then he will also win the WMRT Title so long as Mathieu Richard comes 4th or lower in Malaysia.
Do you feel that tour is getting tougher? We saw in Bermuda that a lot of the younger skippers were beginning to shine- do you feel that this is making the tour a harder arena to compete in?
Hansen: The tour has always been very competitive. While you can see a new generation of younger guys coming through I think that the Tour card holders are still setting the standard and are the ones to beat. Bermuda was a bit strange and i think that was down to the boats which made it more of a level playing field. I think at other venues the Tour Card holders have the edge and set the pace.
You were having a steady rise up the rankings, but then the last two seasons have taken a bit of a dip- what do you think is the reason for this?
Hansen: Well I think that perhaps the main reason is that our crew all have jobs, and need to take time off from work to compete. I think that we’ve only had 2 regattas with the same crew, meaning we’ve not been able to get the practice needed. If we are to do another season then we will need to think about having just one consistant team. After winning in Berlin at the Match Race Germany qualifier, and doing well in Korea we feel that on our day we can compete with anyone.
Does the added prize money make a difference to your preparations for tour?
Hansen: It makes us even more keen to compete on the Tour. We know that if we want to compete with the best we will need a certain budget to do so.
It’s interesting that you’re one of the skippers who started out as a trimmer and stepped up to being skipper- what extra skills did you need to learn before being skipper?
Hansen: All our crew have got experience sailing in dinghies which I think helps, so the step up to helmsman was not too big. One thing is that you need to be able to make very, very quick decisions. To be honest I think any of our crew could have stepped up to skipper, it just happened to be me- 13 years ago!
What have been your main highs and lows of the season?
Hansen: The main high was probably two weeks ago when we won in Berlin, that and Match Race Korea where we came third. Berlin really showed us that if we get our act together we can be competitive on the Tour and push for the Title.
The main low was probably when I came back from Korea and got ill for a month, it meant I wasn’t right for Portugal and Sweden- to be honest I probably shouldn’t have gone to Sweden I should have stayed at home and tried to recover.
Looking forward to the Monsoon Cup, does it provide a different challenge to other WMRT regattas?
Hansen: The current makes a difference, and the tightness of the course which is similar to Marstand [in Sweden]. But I think it’s a really good regatta- it adds another dimension to have obstacles and I’m feeling good about heading out there.