Jensen in the drving seat
Friday June 6th 2003, Author: Andy Rice, Location: none selectedYoung Danish helmsman Henrik Jensen won three out of three races on Lake Constance today, giving him the early lead at the Swedish Match Tour’s Match Race Germany. It was a miracle that any racing was held at all, with the wind barely picking up over two knots, but even so there were few complaints about the race management today.
Denmark’s Jes Gram Hansen of Team Victory Lane could have been sharing the leaderboard, had he not failed to spot a shortened course flag for his match against 470 Olympic gold medallist, Frenchman Luc Pillot. “We heard a sound signal, but we weren’t sure if it came from the committee boat or a spectator boat,” he said. “We were leading Luc by about two boat lengths, but we rounded the leeward mark while he carried straight on for the finish. It was a bad mistake, and sometimes these things can prove to be significant later on, but we certainly hope not.”
Pillot made his own fundamental error in the final heat of the day against Jensen. The Dane held the controlling position in the build-up to the start, and forced the Frenchman over towards the committee boat. In desperation Pillot tacked in Jensen’s water at the gun, and was given a penalty by the jury. He also lost speed and by the time Pillot had got the boat moving, the race was firmly in Jensen’s grasp.
So Jensen tops the leaderboard, followed by Gram Hansen and Sweden’s Mikael Lindquist, both on 2 wins, 1 loss. The Swede lost his match to Jensen but prevailed over Pillot and Staffan Lindberg of Finland, who struggled to master the subtleties of the wind and the 20-foot Diamond 2000 yachts, finishing the day on three losses.
The local German team skippered by Andreas Willim were pleased just to get one race win against such tough competition. Helge Homann, Willim’s cockpit crew, admitted that their ambitions did not stretch much beyond reaching the quarterfinals. Whereas most teams are here to win, Willim and crew feel privileged just to be racing such hot competition, having gotten here on the back of winning a Grade 5 qualifying event on Lake Constance at the end of last year.
Some of the big names sat ashore today, awaiting their turn to do light-air battle on the Lake tomorrow. The one that everyone is waiting to watch is another German entry skippered by Jochen Schümann, three-time Olympic champion and more recently the Director of Sports for Team Alinghi, the Swiss challenge that dominated the America’s Cup earlier this year. For a man that has done it all and has nothing left to prove, you might wonder why he chooses to put his reputation on the line against some of the young guns gathered for this event. His answer was this: “Every event is history once you have achieved it, and always the next event is the most important. Of course being a member of Alinghi and being German, I love the idea of racing on a lake that lies between Switzerland and Germany.”
Round Robin Leaderboard
Skipper Wins Losses
Henrik Jensen (DEN) 3 0
Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN/Team Victory Lane) 2 1
Mikael Lindquist (SWE) 2 1
Luc Pillot (FRA/Team Pillot) 1 2
Andreas Willim (GER) 1 2
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) 0 0