US show down in St Moritz

But Ben Ainslie takes the Swedish Match Tour championship lead after third event

Sunday August 21st 2005, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: France
Ed Baird became a four-time winner on the Swedish Match Tour when he captured the St Moritz Match Race, the third event of the 2005-’06 Swedish Match Tour.

The helmsman from St. Petersburg, Florida and his crew of Mike Drummond and Nils Frei, fellow members of Alinghi, defeated Mark Mendelblatt 3-0 in the final.

Baird captured his first Tour event since the Nippon Cup last November. He scored 25 points towards the Tour championship and is tied for third on the leaderboard with two other skippers. Baird and crew also won approximately $28,000 of the approximately $117,000 prize purse.

The final was sailed in a light north/northeasterly wind between 5 and 8 knots. A steady rain fell and the air temperature hovered between 45 and 50degF. It left the crews shaking from coldness as they disembarked the Streamline 7.15s. “I’m a lot colder than I’ve ever been in Florida,” said the 47-year-old Baird.

Mendelblatt, sailing with Dan Slater and Ed Smyth, had been the two-time champion of St. Moritz Match Race. Each time he defeated a crew from Alinghi. But this year he couldn’t overcome his hometown mentor. “There’s a lot I can point to,” said Mendelblatt, “but the main thing is Ed sailed very well and his crew was hungry. They were better at every position and I think my crew will agree.”

While Baird moved into third on the leaderboard, Ben Ainslie of Emirates Team New Zealand, has assumed the top spot after three of nine stages in the 2005-6 Swedish Match Tour leadersboard.

Ainslie, sailing with Andy Hemmings and Andy MacLean, scored 10 points for placing fifth overall. Coupled with the 20 points he earned for finishing second in Portugal last month he has 30 points and leads by 1 point. Alinghi's Peter Holmberg is second with 29 points after placing eighth in St Moritz.

“There are still six events to go, and I don’t know how many more I’ll do,” said Ainslie. “It’s a good showing for Team New Zealand. A 2-5 is a great result and I’m proud of it.”

In the Petit Final, Finland's Staffan Lindberg of the Alandia Sailing Team, successfully executed a penalty turn at the beginning of the second beat in Race 3 and held on to defeat Britain's Ian Williams on Team Musto, 2-1. Lindberg won approximately $14,000 and Williams $11,700.

Mendelblatt had a couple of opportunities in the final, but continued to have trouble at the windward mark. He had great boatspeed all week, but had real troubles at the mark roundings. He rounded the windward mark ahead of Baird twice, but the veteran match-racer was able to beat the newcomer in a gybe to starboard each time, which proved to be a big advantage.

“There wasn’t any great advantage going onto the new jibe, but when we were just behind a couple of times and Mark started to gybe, I knew that if we jibed there we’d roll him and at least we’d have the inside side of things towards the mark,” Baird said. “In light air that’s pretty valuable.”

“It’s frustrating to get passed like that,” Mendelblatt said. “It’s tough in light air to have good sets and keep the spinnaker full in jibes. They were smoother with the spinnaker work and that was the difference.”

St. Moritz Match Race Final Standings
Prize Purse: SFr 150,000 (approximately $117,000)
Skipper (Country) Team, Record, Prize Money*
1. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 12-3, SFr. 36,000 (approx. $28,000)
(Crew: Mike Drummond, Nils Frei)
2. Mark Mendelblatt (USA), 9-7, SFr. 22,500 (approx. $17,600)
(Crew: Dean Slater, Ed Smyth)
3. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 8-7, SFr. 18,000 (approx. $14,000)
(Crew: Robert Skarp, Carl-Johan Uckelstam)
4. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Musto, 9-7, SFr. 15,000 (approx. $11,700)
(Crew: Steve Mitchell, Mark Nichols)
5. Ben Ainslie (GBR) Emirates Team New Zealand, 8-5, SFr. 13,500 (approx. $10,500)
(Crew: Andy Hemmings, Andy McLean)
6. Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST, 4-9, SFr. 12,000 (approx. $9,400)
(Crew: Teague Czislowski, David Gilmour)
7. Sebastien Col (FRA) K-Challenge, 7-3, SFr. 10,500 (approx. $8,200)
(Crew: Christophe André, Teva Plichard)
8. Peter Holmberg (ISV) Alinghi, 5-5, SFr. 7,500 (approx. $5,800)
(Crew: Claudio Celon, Matt Mitchell)
9. Eric Monin (SUI), 3-7, SFr. 6,000 (approx. $4,700)
(Crew: Jean-Claude Monnin, Marc Monnin)
10. Mathieu Richard (FRA), 6-4, SFr. 4,500 (approx. $3,500)
(Crew: Philippe Mourniac, Yannick Simon)
11. Marcel Walser (SUI), 4-6, SFr. 3,000 (approx. $2,300)
(Crew: Fabio Müller, Urs Rothacher)
12. Mark Bradford (AUS) BMW Oracle Racing, 0-10, SFr. 1,500 (approx. $1,100)
(Crew: Rodney Daniel, Nick Partridge)
(*1SFr = .784004 USD on Aug. 21, 2005)

St. Moritz Match Race Results
Final Round
(3) Ed Baird (USA) 3, Mark Mendelblatt (USA) 0
Petit Final Round
(2) Staffan Lindberg (FIN) 2, (1) Ian Williams (GBR) 1

Swedish Match Tour Standings
(After 3 of 9 stages)
1. Ben Ainslie (GBR) Emirates Team New Zealand, 30 points
2. Peter Holmberg (ISV) Alinghi, 29 points
3. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 25 points
T. Staffan Lindberg (FIN), 25 points
T. Jesper Bank (DEN) United Internet Team Germany, 25 points
6. Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST, 23 points
7. Gavin Brady (NZL) BMW Oracle Racing, 20 points
T. Mark Mendelblatt (USA), 20 points

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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