Top skippers head for Marstrand

A preview to next week's Swedish Match Cup

Tuesday June 28th 2005, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: Scandinavia
Long the jewel of the Swedish Match Tour, the Swedish Match Cup features a greatly decorated array of match-racers, two of whom will square off for the sixth Tour championship.

American Ed Baird of America’s Cup champions Alinghi and Australia’s Peter Gilmour, of Pizza-La Sailing Team, are locked in a tussle, tied with 102 points.

If Baird is to win his first Tour championship he must finish no worse than fourth with Gilmour behind him. For Gilmour to repeat as the Tour champ he has to finish ahead of Baird, no matter where they place in the standings.

A public opinion poll on the Swedish Match Tour Web site shows that people believe Gilmour will win the championship. As of today, he led Baird with 64 percent of the vote. ( Vote here for who you think will win the championship.) The champion will win a $60,000 bonus from the Tour and a BMW 545i Touring provided by Tour partner BMW.

The 12th annual Swedish Match Cup takes place next week on 4-10 July off the small island of Marstrand off Sweden’s west coast with more furious action expected. From the beginning the Swedish Match Cup has always attracted the top-ranked skippers, and this year is no different.

Of the 16 teams entered nine represent syndicates entered in the 32nd America’s Cup. Their resumes are an incredible list of success, having won three America’s Cup matches, two Louis Vuitton Cup titles, three Olympic medals and 11 match-racing world championships.

All five past Swedish Match Tour champions - Bertrand Pacé, Magnus Holmberg, Peter Holmberg, Jesper Radich and Gilmour - are in the line-up.

There also are four skippers who have won 10 of the previous 11 Swedish Match Cups. Gilmour leads the pack with five victories (1994, ’95, ’97, ’98, ’99). Dean Barker, of Emirates Team New Zealand, and Russell Coutts, of Coutts Racing, have two wins each, and Pacé, of BMW Oracle Racing, has one. Baird is a four-time runner-up at the event (1994, ’95, ’97, ’99), each time to Gilmour.

Coutts is the reigning champion. Sailing with Danish crewmembers Michael Arnhild, Jes Gram-Hansen, Christian Kamp and Rasmus Kostner, Coutts Racing outdueled Gilmour’s Pizza-La Sailing Team to win the championship 2-1.

Marstrand’s tight racecourse will become more restricted with the use of the Swedish Match 40, replacing the DS 37 that has been used in the previous 11 editions. A consortium of companies has purchased a fleet of boats for the event.

A prize purse of SEK849,000 (approximately $114,000) is up for grabs, with SEK280,000 (approximately $37,000) earmarked for the champion.

The Swedish Match Cup will also host a women’s event concurrent with the open regatta. A field of eight teams is slated to compete, including reigning champion Marie Bjorling (SWE), who has won three consecutive championships, and Claire Leroy (FRA), the women’s No. 1-ranked match-racer.

Swedish Match Cup Entrants (as of June 28, 2005)
Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi – Tied for Swedish Match Tour Championship
Dean Barker (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand – Two-time Swedish Match Cup champion (2000, ’02)
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) – Local qualifier
Russell Coutts (NZL) Coutts Racing – Placed 3rd on Swedish Match Tour Leaderboard
Peter Gilmour (AUS) Pizza-La Sailing Team – Tied for Swedish Match Tour Championship
Björn Hansen (SWE) – Tied 10th at Swedish Match Cup 2004
Kelvin Harrap (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand – Placed 9th on Swedish Match Tour Leaderboard
Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge – Past Swedish Match Tour champion (2001)
Peter Holmberg (ISV) Alinghi – Past Swedish Match Tour champion (2002)
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) – Placed 6th on Swedish Match Tour Leaderboard
Lars Nordbjerg (DEN) – Nordic Match-Racing Champion
Bertrand Pacé (FRA) BMW Oracle Racing – Placed 8th on Swedish Match Tour Leaderboard
Iain Percy (GBR) +39 Challenge – Competing in second Swedish Match Tour event
Philippe Presti (FRA) Luna Rossa – Placed 5th on Swedish Match Tour Leaderboard
Jesper Radich (DEN) Desafio Espanol – Past Swedish Match Tour Champion (2003)
Ian Williams (GBR) – Competing in second Swedish Match Tour event

Swedish Match Tour Standings
(After 7 of 8 stages)
1. Ed Baird (USA) 102 points
T. Peter Gilmour (AUS) 102 points
3. Russell Coutts (NZL) 70 points
4. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) 45 points
5. Philippe Presti (FRA) 44 points
6. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) 38 points
7. James Spithill (AUS) 35 points
8. Bertrand Pacé (FRA) 34 points

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

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