Get ready for the Australia Cup

This time Andy Beadsworth is skippering for the GBR Challenge

Monday March 19th 2001, Author: John Roberson, Location: United Kingdom
There are seven America's Cup crews amongst the twelve teams that will contest the Sun Microsystems Australia Cup, on Perth's Swan River from Wednesday to Sunday this week (21 - 25 March).
The stage is set for a series of battles that promise plenty of action, and if last week's Steinlager Line 7 regatta is any indication, the issue will be fought to the bitter end.

The action starts with a double round robin in which all the skippers sail against each of the others twice, followed by semi-finals and finals.

The field:
Fresh from finishing second in Auckland's Steinlager Line 7 Cup last week, is Kiwi Gavin Brady, who now sails for Italy's Prada Challenge, and is a past winner of the Sun Microsystem Australia Cup.

Local lad made good Peter Gilmour, now leads the OneWorld Challenge out of Seattle, and is the only skipper to have won this event four times in the past; he knows the boats and the river.

Veteran campaigner Chris Dickson is another Kiwi lured to the challenger side of the fence, to skipper America's Oracle Racing Team on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf in 2003.

Sweden's Magnus Holmberg has done this event many times, but this is the first time he represents an America's Cup Challenge, his country's Victory Challenge.

The British are back in the Cup arena for the first time since it was sailed off Fremantle in 1987. Andy Beadsworth flies the flag for the GBR Challenge on the Swan River this week.

James Spithill from Sydney made a name for himself at the last Cup in Auckland, where he was the youngest skipper. He has now joined Peter Gilmour's OneWorld team.

American Ken Read is the chosen helmsman for Cup legend Dennis Conner's team, which will represent the New York Yacht Club in 2003; a newcomer to match racing his sailing record is, nonetheless, very impressive.

Though not with an America's Cup team now, Neville Wittey, another Sydney skipper, has experienced the pressure of Cup sailing, as well as Olympic competition.

Frenchman Luc Pillot has no Cup affiliation, but nearly ten years of experience on the world match racing circuit have made him into a tough competitor.

Italy's Nicola Celon is ranked twentieth in the world, with much of his experience coming from the Soling class, in which he competed at last year's Olympics on Sydney Harbour.

Jes Gram-Hansen is one of Denmark's rising young sailing stars. A product of the country's match racing academy near Copenhagen, he has climbed to seventh place on the ranking ladder in a couple of years.

Jesper Radich, another Dane, comes from the same academy as his compatriot, and is a very tough competitor, having risen to fifth place on the world rankings.

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