Pace ahead

After day two of the ACI HTmobile Cup reports Sean McNeill

Thursday May 27th 2004, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: Mediterranean
On a day of predominantly light winds, Bertrand Pacé overtook Peter Gilmour for the overall lead at the ACI HTmobile Cup, an event of the Swedish Match Tour. With Round Robin 1 and the first two flights of Round Robin 2 complete, Pacé leads the event with a 10-2 record.

“It’s still very early,” said a wary Pacé, the helmsman of America’s Cup syndicate Team France. “There are eight more flights to sail before the semifinals. Anything can happen.”

Sweden’s Magnus Holmberg lies second with a 9-3 record, the same as Gilmour, the day 1 leader. The two have split their round-robin matches, but Holmberg owns the tiebreaker due to his victory in Round 2 (Flight 13 overall). Denmark’s Jes Gram-Hansen is fourth with an 8-3 record, and followed by New Zealander Gavin Brady of the Oracle BMW Racing syndicate for the America’s Cup, at 7-5.

Frenchman Mathieu Richard, the world No. 2-ranked match-race skipper, is sixth with a 6-5 record. Team New Zealand’s Kelvin Harrap is 5-7, and owns the tiebreaker for seventh over Sweden’s Mattias Rahm, also at 5-7.

Finland’s Staffan Lindberg, who returned to racing a day after undergoing a procedure to repair a broken facial bone, moved up to ninth with a 3-9 record, followed by Croatians Frano Brate, 2-10, and Mate Arapov, 1-11.

Today’s racing at the 18th annual regatta was held in lighter winds than the first day. While the Race Committee, led by Alen Kustic and Tonko Petesic, rolled off eight flights and 40 matches yesterday, today they were able to complete just five flights and 25 matches.

Pacé has been on a roll. The champion of the inaugural Swedish Match Tour in 2000 had won six straight races before losing to Gram-Hansen in his final match of the day.

With the west/southwesterly wind down to 6 knots, the Jeanneau One-Design 35s were a bear to handle. The boat’s heavy displacement (8,000 pounds) and short-chord length keel means it side-slips dramatically.

“If you have no speed there’s a lot of leeway,” said Pacé, who in his match against Gram-Hansen had hit the pin end at the start. “There was a lot of tide running. “We misjudged the layline and the time and distance to the pin. It was a very (crappy) start, to be very clear about it.”

The lighter winds forced a different mode from the crews when compared to yesterday’s 15 knot breeze. Sweden’s Rahm explained that it requires a more tactical mindset than when there’s more pressure. “You have to be more focused and concentrate harder,” Rahm said.

Rahm relied on a bit of experience in the light winds to help him beat Gilmour in the last flight of Round 1. “I felt they were similar to last year,” said Rahm, who placed seventh last year. “When the wind dropped in the afternoon, there was a big right-hand shift.”

Anticipating the shift, Rahm opted for a split tack start with Gilmour. He pushed the Aussie toward the pin end, and then tacked to port just before the gun. The two sailed to opposite corners of the racecourse, and met for the first time at the top of the initial beat. “When we came together we were ahead by about 100 meters, and that was basically the race,” Rahm said.

After winning his first seven races yesterday, Gilmour stumbled today winning only two of his five matches. He lost his first match of the series in today’s first flight, when he faced Gram-Hansen.

With the winds between 3 and 5 knots, Gilmour entered the start box on port and Gram-Hansen on starboard. Former Swedish Match Tour champion (2002-’03) Peter Holmberg feels entering the start box on port in light air is akin to being in jail, and Gilmour found himself penalised for a port-starboard incident with Gram-Hansen when he had no forward momentum.

Gram-Hansen rode a zephyr to Gilmour, who was essentially stopped dead in the water, and lined him up perfectly for the penalty Gram-Hansen got a second penalty on Gilmour just after the start of their match, when Gilmour tacked too close in front of the Dane. Forced to perform one of the penalty turns immediately, Gilmour was behind and had little chance of passing in the light winds.

The light winds were welcomed by Lindberg. The 32-year-old skipper from Mariehamn, Finland, was knocked to his knees two days ago when hit on the right side of his head by the boom during a practice gybe. Lindberg said he saw stars while on the cockpit floor.

He underwent surgery at the City Hospital of Split to repair his zygomatic arch, the arch of bone that extends along the front or side of the skull beneath the orbit, on the right side of his face. Dr. Vladimir Ivancev, M.D., the attending physician, explained that the surgeon, Dr. Pavicic, made a one centimeter vertical incision, inserted a hook and pulled the arch back into place. “It was a simple procedure,” Ivancev said. Lindberg had just two stitches closing the wound.

Last night, Lindberg was measured for a special mask that was delivered this morning. Ivancev emphasised to Lindberg that he should wear the mask to protect the damaged arch in the event of another accident. Lindberg was hesitant to wear it. “I can’t see that well out of it,” he explained about the inhibited periphery vision. “And I might not be able to see the boom if it comes across again.”

Today, however, the 6 foot, 5 inch tall sailor was recovering well. “I feel fine,” Lindberg said. “It doesn’t hurt at all. I have no problems with vision or dizziness.” Lindberg proved his resiliency by going 3-2 on the day to move up to ninth overall.

ACI HTmobile Cup Standings
(After 13 of 22 scheduled flights)

1. Bertrand Pacé/FRA, Team France 10-2
Crew: Benoit Briand, Tanguy Caidou, Fabrice Levet, Romain Troublé

2. Magnus Holmberg/SWE, SeaLife Rangers 9-3
Crew: Peter Anderson, Martin Krite, Lars Linger, Stefan Rahm

3. Peter Gilmour/AUS, Pizza-La Sailing Team 9-3
Crew: Rod Dawson, Mike Mottl, Kazuhiko Sofuku, Yasuhiro Yaji

4. Jes Gram-Hansen/DEN, Team Denmark 8-3
Crew: Michael Arnhild, Christian Kamp, Rasmus Kostner, Chresten Plinius

5. Gavin Brady/NZL, Oracle BMW Racing 7-5
Crew: John Kostecki, Craig Monk, Robbie Naismith, Brad Webb

6. Mathieu Richard/FRA 6-5
Crew: Greg Evrard, Olivier Herledant, Alexis Ponsot Pierre, Yannick Simon

7. Kelvin Harrap/NZL, Team New Zealand 5-7
Crew: Andy Hemmings, Jeremy Lomas, Grant Lorentz, Chris Ward

8. Mattias Rahm/SWE, Team Stena Bulk 5-7
Crew: Johan Barne, Claes Dahlberg, Pontus Meijer, Henrik Valderyd

9. Staffan Lindberg/SWE 1-9
Crew: Johan Karlsson, Daniel Mattsson, Johan Mossberg, Daniel Wallberg

10. Frano Brate/CRO 2-8
Crew: Boris Bakotić, Zvonko Jelačić, Denis Stanojević, Mirko Ukas

11. Mate Arapov/CRO 1-9
Crew: Ivan Bulaja, Luka Radelić Ognjen Uljević, Stjepan Vitaljić

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