Spithill moves into pole

After an afternoon lost due to poor wind conditions on day three of the ACI HTmobile Cup in Split

Thursday May 29th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
It was another day, or afternoon at least, of frustration on the water off the ACI Marina in Split, Croatia, for day three of the Swedish Match Tour’s ACI HTMobile Cup.

With a northeasterly breeze blowing off the land early this morning, the racing got underway at 09.30am local time with the final flights from round robin one taking place in a solid breeze that fluctuated from 15 to 25 knots. Progress was made through to the final race in the second flight of round robin two. This was abandoned when the wind died completely. With no breeze on the race course coinciding with lunchtime, the boats returned to the marina only to leave again mid-afternoon to await for a sea breeze that only partially materialised.

A cheer went up from local spectators when in the first flight of the second round robin local Split sailor Frane Brate managed to dispatch Swedish Match Tour leader Jes Gram Hansen of Denmark. This is Brate’s only win in the competition to date.

“We have small luck in this position, because he was the first boat and towards the last mark the wind came from behind and we go quickly this way and slowly metre by metre we overtake him,” explained Brate, 28. “We feel very happy because this is my first time match racing and my crew haven’t been training.” Ironically Brate was en route to his second win in his match against Jesper Radich when the wind died and the race was abandoned before lunch.

Losing to the novice Croatian was just one of a catalogue of disasters for Jes Gram Hansen, the present Swedish Match Tour leader, who today dropped matches to Paolo Cian – the Mascalzone Latino America’s Cup team skipper also not on form – and to fellow Swede Mattias Rahm. Gram Hansen is now lying eighth in the overall results after three days of racing.

Meanwhile Chris Law staged a come back with his band of Outlaws, who aside from Law comprise tactician Dobbs Davis and three local sailors from the yacht club here, Ante Vanjaka, Ivan Kljakovic-Gaspic and Darko Supuk. Law today beat Magnus Holmberg, Allan Coutts and Paolo Cian, only losing to James Spithill.

“We had a miscommunication of time,” said Law of his loss to the young Australian skipper. “The watch stopped or went forward or something because he called me over the line by 20 seconds. We also had miscommunication today. In the heat of the moment I go ‘hold the job’ and the Croatian for ‘release’ or ‘cut the jib’, is very similar to the word ‘hold’. So they thought I meant ‘release’. But otherwise they are great.”

This afternoon’s racing bearly took place. The last abandoned match of the second flight between Jesper Radich and Frane Brate was held in good breeze and was won by Radich.

Principle Race Officer Alen Kustic then decided to get third flight underway. “We opened the third flight between James Spithill and Paolo Cian and as soon as I let the procedure go and when they entered the wind was dying,” recounted Kustic. Cian failed to enter the start area correctly and picked up a penalty but was able to recover his ground during the race. Unfortunately during the race the wind again died and shifted around the clock. The race was completed but was painstakingly long. Racing for the day was subsequently cancelled.

In the post-race wrap-up there was discussion about whether or not a time limit should be set for the completion of individual races as there is in the America’s Cup.

Split Hospital received another customer from the ACI HTMobile Cup today in the form of Swiss Alinghi crewman Nils Frei sailing with skipper Allan Coutts. Frei developed a bursitis on his elbow – a pingpong ball-sized growth. As the boats returned at lunchtime, Frei was rushed to hospital where the bursitis was cut open and drained. “I had it during the America’s Cup and then it went off completely, but there was a risk that it would come again and that risk was now,” said Frei, his elbow now heavily bandaged. He returned to the boat without missing a race.

At present James Spithill with 10 wins in 13 races holds a narrow lead over Poland’s Karol Jablonski who has won 9 races of 11 sailed. Tomorrow the race committee will have their work cut out to complete the second round robin before launching into the semi finals on Saturday.

PRELIMINARY RESULTS – ACI Htmobile Cup –Round Robin One

Flight 10
Law def Holmberg
Spithill def Coutts
Gram Hansen def Berntsson
Jablonski def Rahm
Radich def Cian

Flight 11
Law def Coutts
Spithill def Brate
Berntsson def Rahm
Cian def Gram Hansen
Jablonski def Radich

Round Robin Two

Flight 1
Jablonski def Berntsson
Spithill def Law
Radich def Coutts
Rahm def Holmberg
Brate def Gram Hansen

Flight 2
Berntsson def Spithill
Law def Cian
Holmberg def Coutts
Rahm def Gram Hansen
Radich def Brate

Flight 3
Spithill def Cian

Overall results
1. James Spithill (Aus) 10 wins of 13 races
2. Karol Jablonski (Pol) 9 wins of 11 races
3= Magnus Holmberg (Swe) 8 wins of 12 races
3= Jesper Radich (Den) 8 wins of 12 races
5 Chris Law (UK) 7 wins of 12 races
6 Mattias Rahm (Swe) 6 wins of 12 races
7 Paolo Cian (Ita) 5 wins of 12 races
8 Jes Gram Hansen (Den) 5 wins of 12 races
9 Johnie Berntsson (Swe) 4 wins of 12 races
10 Allan Coutts (NZ) 3 wins of 12 races
11 Frano Brate (Cro) 1 win of 12 races

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