Tour moves to Germany

Swedish Match Tour takes to Lake Constance next week

Thursday June 3rd 2004, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: none selected
The Swedish Match Tour visits Langenargen, Germany, on the shores of Lake Constance in southern Germany, for the penultimate event to the 2003-’04 schedule, Match Race Germany, June 8-14.

The 7th annual event has some new features this year, including a boat. The Bavaria 35 Match (from Bavaria Yachts, Giebelstadt, Germany) replaces the Diamant 2000 used in past editions. The 35 footer displaces 11,900 pounds and has 695 square feet of sail area.

With a Euro 20,000 prize purse, Match Race Germany offers a special prize for the skipper who masters the new design the quickest. Any crew that can win 10 races in a row wins a Mercedes Benz SLK roadster, valued at approximately Euro 40,000, from event sponsor Wuerttembergische Versicherungsagentur Speth.

Many familiar faces will be on hand gunning for the sleek speedster, including four of the top five at last week’s Tour event in Split, Croatia. Heading the line-up is Australian Peter Gilmour and the Pizza-La Sailing Team of Mike Mottl, Kazuhiko Sofuku and Yasuhiro Yaji.

They clinched the Tour Championship last week at the Swedish Match Tour event in Croatia, but Gilmour is still upset about his second-place finish to Frenchman Bertrand Pacé, who won the final 3-0. It was Pizza-La’s second consecutive runner-up placing.

“I pride myself on being able to convert wins once we’re in the final,” Gilmour said. “I think that we usually rise above the pressure. But in Croatia we weren’t able to do that, and Bertrand did.” Pizza-La may get another shot at the skipper of Team France for America’s Cup 2007 in Germany, where Pacé will also compete.

Pacé, champion of the inaugural Swedish Match Tour in 2000, sailed brilliantly last week. He was cool, calm and collected, and reminded everyone that when he’s on his game he’s one of the best match-race skippers. Pacé is tied for fifth on the Tour leaderboard.

Denmark’s Jes Gram-Hansen, third overall on last year’s Tour, is making a late-season push up the Tour leaderboard. A fourth-place finish last week moved him up to eighth place, after beginning the year placed 13th.

Gavin Brady, the New Zealand helmsman of the BMW Oracle Racing syndicate for America’s Cup 2007, looks to improve on his fifth-place in Croatia. Brady will have to do so without regular tactician John Kostecki, who won’t be in attendance.

Brady, who could move into second overall on the Tour leaderboard with a top-five finish, will have BMW Oracle Racing teammates Sean Clarkson, Dirk De Ridder and Brad Webb crewing.

Also competing is Poland’s Karol Jablonski, the world No. 1-ranked match-racer and helmsman for Italy’s Toscana Challenge, another America’s Cup hopeful syndicate.

Jablonski had a great run at the Tour event Porto Azzurro, Italy, last month before finishing fourth, and will have German Markus Wieser in his crew. Wieser won Match Race Germany in 2001.

Mathieu Richard of France makes his second consecutive Tour appearance, after placing sixth in Croatia. He gained entry by finishing runner-up to Wieser at the Berlin Match Race, and when Wieser declined his invitation to sail with Jablonski.

Other competitors include Frenchman Luc Pillot, of France’s le Défi syndicate for the America’s Cup, and New Zealander Ray Davies, representing Team New Zealand and including Kelvin Harrap in his crew. Harrap is tied for ninth on the Tour leaderboard.

Denmark’s Lars Nordbjerg and Australian Michael Dunstan of the OzBoyz Challenge, an America’s Cup hopeful, also will be on hand.

Two other spots will be filled based on the results of the German Invitational Cup, a local feeder event. Carsten Kemmling, the reigning German Match Race champion and a journalist at Germany’s Yacht magazine, is considered the favorite, and will be challenged by five other promising match-race crews from Germany and Switzerland.

All venues on the Swedish Match Tour are unique in their own right, and Lake Constance is no different. Nestled among the Alps and occupying an old glacier basin at an elevation of 1,299 feet (396 meters), Lake Constance serves as a natural border for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Central Europe’s second largest freshwater lake, Lake Constance covers an area of 220 square miles (569 square kilometers), measuring about 40 miles (statute) long (64.3 kilometers) and up to 8.5 miles (statute) wide (13.6 kilometers), with an average depth of 295 feet (90 meters) and a maximum depth of 827 feet (252 meters).

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