Fight for fourth semi final place

GBR, USA and NZL all through at Team Racing Worlds

Thursday February 6th 2003, Author: Jim Murdoch, Location: Australasia
Defending champion New Zealand will go into tomorrow’s semifinal of the Team Racing World Championships as though it was the final deciding race in the America’s Cup.

The New Zealand team, world champions for the past four years, finished the gold fleet round robins today in fifth place, but will be third seeds for the semifinals tomorrow, the last day of racing. Their promotion came through a regatta rule that allows only one team from each country to compete in the semifinals.

So there was good news and bad for Great Britain and the United States yesterday whose teams filled the top four places in the gold league. For Great Britain 2, it was second place - but no medal. The team from Southampton was knocked out of contention by Great Britain 1, who topped the fleet and earned its country’s spot in the semifinal.

The same fate befell USA 1, who finished fourth behind USA 2, runner-up in the last two world championships, whose hopes stay alive in the semis. New Zealand 1 skipper Andrew Murdoch, a two-time world champion, admitted his team had had some anxious moments in the last few days, but would start the final day tomorrow with a clean slate.
"It’s all going to come down to this one day. It’s like the America’s Cup match if you imagine its 4-4 between Team New Zealand and Alinghi and this is it," he said. "We put ourselves up against the wall a bit when we didn’t do well in the earlier races. But all we wanted to do was to get in the top three and then it’s a new ball game."

The New Zealanders, almost all of whom were in the winning team in 2001, gave themselves a confidence boost late this afternoon finishing the round with two big wins over the Americans and the British. "We feel confident after that. Now there is no one in the fleet that we haven’t beaten," Murdoch said. Who New Zealand will meet in the semifinals will be decided tomorrow morning, when the fourth semifinalist is determined.
A repechage will be contested between the Czech Republic, Ireland 1,Japan 2 and the Netherlands, with the winner progressing. New Zealand 2, the team of promising youth sailors from the Kohimarama Yacht Club, convincingly topped the silver fleet rounds, losing only one of 21 races – but with New Zealand 1 in the semifinals, it was not eligible to compete in the repechage.

Great Britain 2, 16 wins
Great Britain 1, 15
USA 2, 15
USA 1, 12
New Zealand 1, 11
Ireland 1, 7
Netherlands, 5
Australia 1, 3

New Zealand 2, 20 wins
Czech Republic, 14
Japan 2, 12
Ireland 2, 11
India 1, 11
Japan 1, 10
Australia 2, 6
India 2, 0

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