AC stars line up for Marstrand

We preview the grand finale of the Swedish Match Tour

Wednesday June 26th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Scandinavia
Partly as a testament to the high class line-up of competitors at the Swedish Match Tour's final event of 2001/2, the Swedish Match Cup, in Marstrand, Sweden, on July 1 -7, several top skippers will be in attendance making a late bid for a share of the Swedish Match Tour's US$200,000 prize purse.

One point off the leaderboard is Team New Zealand boss Dean Barker who finished second at the Trofeo Challenge Trombini Cup and eighth at the Congressional Cup to register his 24 points. A disappointing 9th place finish at his hometown Steinlager Line 7 Cup has kept Barker at bay but, as a former champion of the Swedish Match Cup (2001), the Kiwi skipper is certain to be a force to be reckoned with next week.

Barker's Team New Zealand mate Bertrand Pace and Victory Challenge helmsman Jesper Bank both stand on 20 points and are also quite familiar with the boats and conditions in Marstrand. Pace won the Swedish Match Cup in 1996 as well as being a runner-up to Barker in 2001. Bank is a 'new' Swedish citizen due to his Victory Challenge affiliation and a local favorite.

Sitting on 12 points is Russia's Andrew Arbuzow who is ranked 16th in the world by ISAF. Arbuzow finished fourth at May's Match Race Germany, his first Swedish Match Tour appearance.

Perhaps the biggest fish - or shark, really - who will be patrolling the waters off Marstrand will be Alinghi Challenge skipper Russell Coutts. Coutts, defending Swedish Match Cup champion, has 10 points in Swedish Match Tour 2001/2, courtesy of his fifth place finish at the Trombini Cup. America's Cup commitments have kept the New Zealand ex-patriot from participating regularly on the Swedish Match Tour but it is not beyond the realm of possibility for him to post a favorable result and grab some bonus money.

The Swedish Match Cup begins Monday, July 1, and is raced in DS 37 Match Racers.

Competitors at this year's Swedish Match Cup include Swedish Match Tour 2001/2 Champion Peter Holmberg of Oracle Racing as well as previous Swedish Match Tour champions Magnus Holmberg of Team SeaLife and the Victory Challenge and inaugural Swedish Match Tour champion Pace. Additional skippers include American Ed Baird, Denmark's Jes Gram-Hansen and Jesper Radich, Alinghi Challenge's Jochen Schumann, and Sweden's Bjorn Hansen, Mattias Rahm and Mikael Lindkvist. Finland's Staffan Lindberg and Poland's Karol Jablonski complete the line-up.

Swedish Match Tour leaderboard
Skipper Points
1. Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing 120
2. Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team SeaLife 80
3. Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Marienlyst 75
4. Gavin Brady, Prada Challenge 62
5. Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto 35
6. Jesper Radich, Denmark 33
7. Ken Read, USA/Team Dennis Conner 27
Philippe Presti, Le Defi Areva 25

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