Radich pulls ahead

After a day of light airs and lingering showers at Match Cup Sweden

Thursday July 5th 2007, Author: World Match Racing Tour, Location: Scandinavia
Lingering showers, light air, and massive wind shifts tested competitors, race managers and umpires today on day two of Match Cup Sweden. The eight teams in Group B managed to complete seven flights to conclude Round Robin 1, but one flight remains to complete this round for Group A, who will resume the competition tomorrow morning.

The tricky conditions meant no lead was safe, and in numerous matches those who looked clearly out of contention managed to claw back and even pass their rivals when blessed with a favorable shift or fortuitous puff of breeze. The DS 37s used for the event accelerate quickly, and so are very responsive even in these light conditions.

One of the most dramatic examples of this was in this afternoon’s first match of Flight 4 for Group A, where Gavin Brady (NZL) closed a losing margin of several boat lengths with Bjorn Hansen (SWE) to within less than one length on the second beat of the race, only to lose all of that gain again at the top mark. But then on the run, he and his team from Oracle Racing managed to close this gap and even passed Hansen at the bottom mark, and even drew a red flag penalty on him while rounding.

Jensen performed his penalty turn after the rounding, but fouled Brady again, and had to do yet another turn. Normally this would be the end of the match, and Brady let Jensen split to the right side of the course. But it was there that Jensen found a puff of breeze, rolled over Brady who sat windless in the middle, and sailed on to win the match.

“When you sail in conditions like this, you have to understand that anything can happen,” said Jensen. “Luck plays a big part on days like today.” Brady described the winds today as “Random, not tricky. It was one of those days you just had to survive and try to get some points on the board.”

Having competed numerous times in this event, Jensen was particularly impressed with this year’s evenness of competitors. “We were discussing this the other day, and we feel that this year there are ten teams that could have a good week and win.”

Ian Williams (GBR) of Pindar Racing is second on the overall Tour leaderboard, but struggled yesterday, posting not one win in three matches. Today his fortunes changed, winning one each to the thusfar winless Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and Evgeniy Neugodnikov (RUS). On only two wins with eight flights left in the double round robin, Williams said “We’re not panicked yet, but we cannot afford to have another slack day like yesterday. We just need to have more days like today.” Williams admitted having some problems adapting to the maneuverability of the DS 37’s, and acknowledged having difficulty with two umpire calls which he felt were decisive in matches he lost, including one to Jenny Axhene (SWE), the sole women’s skipper in Group A. “I don’t think we’ll change our style because of this, but just try to get ahead and stay out of trouble.”

Today’s giant killer was in Group B, where otherwise winless Eric Monnin (SUI) managed to strike down the two leaders of this group, Magnus Holmberg (SWE) of Victory Challenge and Jesper Radich (DEN), who would have been without defeat had it not been for Monnin. He even had a substantial lead against another top performer in the group and the overall Tour leader, Mathieu Richard (FRA) for most of their match, but fell victim to a winless hole and watched helplessly as Richard sailed past.

“We had a much better day today,” said Monnin. “Our starts, maneuvers, tactics, I think everything was really improved over yesterday. We are Swiss, so we like these really difficult shifty conditions…you have to be ready for everything!”

GROUP A: (incomplete)
Simon Minoprio (NZL) 5-1
Björn Hansen – Team Onico (SWE) 4-2
Mattias Rahm – Victory Challenge (SWE) 4-2
Gavin Brady – Oracle Racing (NZL) 4-2
Evgeniy Neugodnikov – Lord of the Sail Team (RUS) 2-4
Jenny Axhede (SWE) 2-4
Ian Williams – Team Pindar (GBR) 2-4
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) 1-5

Jesper Radich – Desafio Espanol (DEN) 6-1
Magnus Holmberg – Victory Challenge (SWE) 5-2
Mathieu Richard – Saba Sailing (FRA) 5-2
Sebastien Col - Areva (FRA) 4-3
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) 3-4
Eric Monnin (SUI) 2-5
Claire Leroy (FRA) 2-5
Malin Millbourn (SWE) 1-6

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