Russell Coutts and his Alinghi Team crew trail Jesper Radich and Team Denmark in Flight 4

Russell Coutts and his Alinghi Team crew trail Jesper Radich and Team Denmark in Flight 4

Jablonski roars away

Despite difficult conditions on day two of the Toscana Elba Cup

Wednesday May 5th 2004, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: Italy
Poland’s Karol Jablonski holds sole possession of first place at the Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman with a perfect 4-0 record after winning his two matches today at the Swedish Match Tour event.

New Zealand’s Gavin Brady, helmsman for Oracle BMW Racing, the America’s Cup Challenger of Record, and Denmark’s Jesper Radich, the reigning Swedish Match Tour champion, are also undefeated at 2-0.

After too much wind to open the event yesterday, today’s weather continued to wreak havoc on the event. Principal Race Officer Giorgio Laura postponed, started and abandoned matches due to the ever-changing winds. The day’s racing ended around 7:30pm.

“We’re happy with our results and to be leading,” said Jablonski with a crazed laugh after disembarking his boat at 7:55pm, concluding a five-hour day and two matches. “The conditions are tough. Not just for us, but the race committee also.”

The regatta schedule calls for a 22-flight round robin followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and final. After the first two days only six flights have been completed, putting the schedule in jeopardy and turning tomorrow’s scheduled lay day into a race day.

Despite looking weary, event organizer Antonio Nappi maintains a positive attitude. “At this point we still have tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday,” Nappi said. “So I’m hopeful we can get all the racing done. We’ll review it tomorrow based on the weather.”

Tomorrow’s forecast is the worst of the week. A series of low pressure systems have been sweeping across the Mediterranean Sea, and tomorrow they’re predicted to produce Force 7 to 8 southwesterly winds, between 28 and 40 knots.

Today started benign, with the Bay of Porto Azzurro nearly becalmed at 9:00 a.m. The start of the day was postponed to allow for some maintenance work on the boats and the breeze to fill.

At midday PRO Laura lowered the postponement signal and sent the crews to the bay as a 6- to 8-knot southeasterly filled. By the time he began the starting sequence for Flight 4 an hour later, the wind had dropped to 4 knots and eventually died away to nothing by the start of the second match. With no breeze, he was forced to abandon the flight.

Around 2:00pm Laura moved the racecourse to the mouth of the bay to conduct racing. A 5-knot south/southeasterly breeze gusted to 8 knots, but the winds were so shifty that it made for difficult match-racing. A boat two lengths to windward of another would be sailing 20 degrees higher.

Laura began Flight 4 at 2:30pm, but the right side of the race course was so heavily favoured that whoever won the committee boat end of the line won the match, as Peter Gilmour (AUS/Pizza-La Sailing Team), Brady and Radich were able to do.

Radich, who won last week’s Garda Trentino Open Match Race at Lake Garda, Italy, beat three-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts (NZL/Alinghi Team) in this manner. The third match of the flight, their first beat was nearly a fetch as the wind had veered right up to 50 degrees.

Radich won the boat end and led all the way around the course. On the first leg they tacked once, to lay the windward mark. The second windward mark was moved to account for the wind shift, but there were still 20-degree oscillations. “The start was the key,” said Radich.

The skewed course infuriated Coutts, now 0-2, who said that it’s nearly impossible to run a regatta in between a 500-foot hill and a 1,000-foot mountain range, which line the northern and southern sides of the bay.

Jablonski, a successful sailor with multiple world championships to his credit, including the Match Racing Worlds in 2002, has yet to win on the Swedish Match Tour. In 11 events his best finish is a second at last year’s Swedish Match Cup in Marstrand, Sweden, which helped him place fifth overall on the Tour.

With Swedish Match Tour competitor Jes Gram-Hansen of Denmark calling tactics, Jablonski beat Michael Dunstan (AUS/OzBoyz Challenge) and Philippe Presti (FRA/le Defi) today. “We had a bunch of problems,” Jablonski said. “We had to replace two jibs because of the luff tape and we also had winch problems.”

They also had problems with the race committee work in their final match of the day against Presti. Rounding a leeward mark the race committee changed the course to the next windward mark. The signal boat was out of place, which made it impossible for Jablonski to acknowledge the change. “We couldn’t hear the signal or see the change of course flag,” Jablonski said. “The onboard umpire couldn’t hear or see it either. They (the signal boat) were downwind of us.”

The Jablonski-Presti match was re-sailed, and Jablonski beat Presti by more than a minute, in his estimation. “We were able to get a penalty on him in the pre-start and then extended away on the course.”

While Jablonski’s group has completed four flights (12 matches), the other group of six skippers has completed two flights (six matches) in two days.

Standings (after 6 of 22 scheduled flights)
1. Karol Jablonski (POL/Toscana Challenge) 4-0
2. Gavin Brady (NZL/Oracle BMW Racing) 2-0
= Jesper Radich (DEN/Team Denmark) 2-0
4. Magnus Holmberg (SWE/SeaLife Rangers) 3-1
5. Paolo Cian (ITA/Italian Challenge) 2-2
6. Peter Gilmour (AUS/Pizza-La Sailing Team) 1-1
= Bertrand Pacé (FRA/Team France) 1-1
8. John Cutler (NZL/Mascalzone Latino) 1-3
= Michael Dunstan (AUS/OzBoyz Challenge) 1-3
= Philippe Presti (FRA/le Défi) 1-3
11. Ed Baird (USA/Team Musto) 0-2
= Russell Coutts (NZL/Alinghi Team) 0-2

Day 2 Results
Flight 4
Match 1: Peter Gilmour d. Ed Baird
Match 2: Gavin Brady d. Bertrand Pacé
Match 3: Jesper Radich d. Russell Coutts

Flight 5
Match 1: Karol Jablonski d. Michael Dunstan
Match 2: Philippe Presti d. Paolo Cian
Match 3: Magnus Holmberg d. John Cutler

Flight 6
Match 1: Jablonski d. Presti
Match 2: Cian d. Cutler
Match 3: Holmberg d. Dunstan

More photos on page 2...

Below: present match racing world champion Ed Baird at the helm of Team Musto

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