Barker and Baird out

After quarterfinals of Brazil Sailing Cup match racing reports Sean McNeill

Sunday March 19th 2006, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: United Kingdom
Two surprise winners were the highlight of Day 4 at the Brazil Sailing Cup, Stage 5 of the 2005-’06 World Match Racing Tour, as it coursed its way towards the final.

In quarterfinal matches today Ben Ainslie (GBR), Emirates Team New Zealand, took down two-time world match-racing champion Ed Baird (USA), Alinghi, and Thierry Peponnet (FRA), K-Challenge, defeated past Tour champion Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Victory Challenge. Ainslie and Peponnet both won by 2-1 scores.

In the other matches, Gavin Brady (NZL), Team Ired, knocked out Dean Barker (NZL), Team NZ, and James Spithill (AUS), Luna Rossa Challenge, rolled over Ian Williams (GBR), Williams Racing. Brady won 2-1 while Spithill shut out Williams in two races.

The semifinals feature Brady against Peponnet and Ainslie versus Spithill. The matches were scheduled to start this afternoon, but another tropical squall sucked all the wind out of the area and forced the race committee to postpone the matches until tomorrow. As a result, the matches have been reduced to first to 2 points series from first to 3 points.

Peponnet is a changed man today. Yesterday he was fuming about being penalized 1 point by the umpires for causing damage in a pre-start collision. There was a chance the penalty could knock him out of the competition. But he advanced out of the Repechage Round through a tiebreaker and today knocked out Holmberg, a six-time World Tour winner.

“It’s the best we could dream,” said Peponnet. “It was good to do the repechage and advance because we got more practice. We feel we’ve improved every race. Today we had good starts and strategy, Tanguy Cariou (tactician) is doing a good job.”

Peponnet defeated Holmberg despite losing the first race. Peponnet led around the first lap of the heat, but lost the lead two-thirds up the second beat in a dial-down maneuver.
“Magnus did a good job there, we were wrong,” Peponnet said. he came back to win the next two matches and advance, leading at each mark rounding in the process. “We have no problems with our boatspeed,” he said. “We’re fast upwind, but have to work on our positioning downwind.”

He’ll get that chance against Brady, who stunned Barker in the third and deciding race. Brady had led Barker around the first windward mark, but was penalized for gybing too close halfway down the run. Although saddled with a penalty, Brady still led approaching the leeward mark when he got aggressive. “I wanted to create as much chaos as possible,” Brady said. That he did.

Both crews were on port gybe with Barker trailing and slightly to leeward. Brady faked a gybe to starboard which forced Barker to head up. Brady came back onto port and luffed Barker, who was now overlapped to windward. As the two crews sailed past the left-hand gate (looking downwind) Barker’s crew doused the chute but couldn’t get it aboard. It went under the boat and draped around the keel. Brady jibed to starboard and rounded the right-hand gate while Barker was left dead in the water.

“He basically blocked us from going to either mark,” said Terry Hutchinson, Barker’s tactician. “I don’t know how you can do that. We couldn’t get a penalty on him because no one put the flag up. We were all trying to get the spinnaker aboard.”

Ainslie beat Baird due in part to a penalty against Baird in the first race. Baird led the race as the two worked towards the windward mark for the second time. Baird, on starboard, approached the port-tack Ainslie. Ainslie went to dip Baird, but Baird dialed him down in a hunting maneuver. Ainslie wound up jibing onto starboard to leeward of Baird.

The umpires penalized Baird and gave him a red flag with it, meaning he had to do the penalty immediately. That put Ainslie into the lead and he went up 1-0. “I’ve never seen that,” said Baird. “We went into that situation controlling the match and came out controlling, but they gave me a red-flag saying we gained control.”

Said Ainslie: “There was a little incident near the top mark where Ed dialed-down past 90 degrees and got flagged. I guess that was nice break for us.”

Baird won the second race to even the series. In the third race Baird misjudged the layline to the pin end of the start line and had to tack to port to cross the line. Ainslie, on starboard, dialed down at him a bit which forced Baird to sail a bit lower.

“That was very close,” said Baird. “There wasn’t much room in it.” Ainslie led around the first windward mark and Baird closed up on the run, but Ainslie led at the second windward mark and held on for the series win.

“They came back at us a little on the first run because I changed my mind at the last moment about which side of the gate to take, and that put some pressure on the guys, so the crew work was a little sloppy,” said Ainslie. “I’m really happy to go up against someone like Ed and it was good to beat him, it was a good result for the team.”

Given the excitement of the three matches the fourth was rather dull for action, but very impressive in terms of Spithill’s ruthless efficiency. “If we had sailed faster and smoother than James we could have beaten him,” said Williams. “But he’s sailing fast and smooth. He’s the favorite to win”

Results:

Quarterfinal Round
Match 1
Thierry Peponnet (FRA) K-Challenge, 2
(Crew: Benoit Briand, Tanguy Cariou, Herve Cunningham, Thierry Douillard)
Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge, 1
(Crew: Anders Dahlsjo, Niklas Carlzon, Lars Linger, Mattias Rahm)
Match 2
Gavin Brady (NZL) Team Ired, 2
(Crew: Jon Gunderson, Brett Jones, Tony Rey, Geordie Shaver)
Dean Barker (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand, 1
(Crew: Don Cowie, James Dagg, Jared Henderson, Terry Hutchinson)
Match 3
Ben Ainslie (GBR) Emirates Team NZ, 2
(Crew: Kelvin Harrap, Richard Meacham, Tony Rey, Rob Salthouse)
Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 1
(Crew: Rodney Ardern, Nils Frei, Murray Jones, Piet Van Nieuwenhuyzen)
Match 4
James Spithill (AUS) Luna Rossa Challenge, 2
(Crew: Magnus Augustsson, Michele Ivaldi, Jonathan McKee, Joe Newton)
Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Racing, 0
(Crew: Bill Hardesty, Gerard Mitchell, Mal Parker, Mark Williams)

The World Tour is sanctioned by ISAF, sailing’s world governing body. BMW is a Partner of the World Tour and the Official Car. World Tour sponsors include Sebago (Rockford, Mich.), the Official Footwear Supplier, Musto (Essex, England), the Official Clothing Supplier, and Travel Places (West Sussex, England), the Official Travel Partner.

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