Match racers head for Denmark

12 teams, 10 of them from America's Cup campaigns line up this Thursday for Danish Open in Copenhagen

Tuesday August 9th 2005, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: none selected
The Danish Open, stage two of the 2005-’06 Swedish Match Tour, kicks off Thursday, 11 August, in Skovshoved, Denmark.

Hosted by the Royal Match Race Center in Skovshoved, about 20 minutes north of Copenhagen, the 9th annual Danish Open features 12 teams competing in DS37s for DKK375,000 (approximately £35,000) in prize money. The final is scheduled for Sunday, 14 August.

The Danish Open is one of four events that has been part of every Swedish Match Tour season. The increased prize purse, up DKK175,000 (£16,300) from last year, has helped event organizers attract one of the best fields in recent years.

The field of 12 crews is headlined by America’s Cup Class helmsmen such as Jesper Bank (GER), United Internet Team Germany, Dean Barker (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, Gavin Brady (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing, Jesper Radich (DEN), Desafío Español, and Jochen Schümann (GER), Alinghi.

Overall the field includes ten America’s Cup teams, a qualifier and wild card entry, but neither of the two recent winners of the Danish Open.

Magnus Holmberg (SWE) and Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) have exclusively held the winner’s circle in Denmark since 2000. Holmberg has won three times (2000, ’01, ’03) and Gram-Hansen twice (2002, ’04). But neither is entered this year.

Holmberg is busy preparing his Victory syndicate for an America’s Cup regatta in Malmö, Sweden, in two weeks. Gram-Hansen and tactician Rasmus Kostner recently signed with Italy’s Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team. They don’t start with the team until next month, but will only be spectators in Denmark.

The increased prize money is part of a concerted effort from event organisers to raise the standard of the event. “We’ve made a strategic decision to expand and grow the event,” said Morten Lorenzen, a co-founder of the event who this year resumed his previous role of organizer after a three-year absence.

Lorenzen said the increased prize money is the most notable of their changes, but efforts behind the scenes have focused on landing new sponsors. This year the Danish Open has six primary sponsors that have paid 50,000 Euros each. He has also received support from Tour partner BMW.

Lorenzen’s biggest victory on the sponsor front was landing Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank and a sponsor he’s been trying to attract for a number of years. “The realisation process is to get them to understand the bigger scheme,” said Lorenzen. That scheme includes giving them title sponsorship of a boat and benefits such as corporate outings.

Lorenzen was also pleased that the Danish Open has gained access to Denmark’s main television broadcaster, which has two networks that reach 80-85% of the viewing public in Denmark. “With new events coming on the Tour, we have a new standard to live up to,” said Lorenzen.

Danish Open Entrants

Jesper Bank (DEN) United Internet Germany – Runner-up at Match Race Germany in May
Dean Barker (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand – Four career victories on Swedish Match Tour
Gavin Brady (NZL) BMW Oracle Racing – Ten second- or third-place finishes on Tour
Flavio Favini (ITA) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia Team – Helmsman for Italian America’s Cup syndicate
Henrik Jensen (DEN) Team Jensen – Winner of qualifier regatta
Chris Law (GBR) The Outlaws – Sailing with a crew comprised from South Africa’s Team Shosholoza
Pierre Mas (FRA) China Team – Helmsman for combined Chinese/French America’s Cup syndicate
Lars Nordbjærg (DEN) – Wild card entry
Thierry Peponnet (FRA) K-Challenge – Competing in second Tour event this year
Philippe Presti (FRA) Luna Rossa Challenge – Runner-up at ACI H1 Match Race Cup in May
Jesper Radich (DEN) Desafío Español – Past Swedish Match Tour champion (2002-’03)
Jochen Schümann (GER) Team Alinghi – Competing at first Tour event since 2003

Swedish Match Tour partners include Swedish Match, BMW and the Match Race Association. Swedish Match Tour Official Sponsors include Musto, Sebago and Travel Places.

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