Radich drops just one race

Semi-finallists decided at Match Cup Sweden

Friday July 6th 2007, Author: Dobbs Davis, Location: Scandinavia
Eight skippers and their teams will advance to the Quarter Final Round tomorrow, as light air cancelled the last six matches in Group A of Match Cup Sweden. From this group, Gavin Brady (NZL) of BMW Oracle Racing, Mattias Rahm (SWE) of Victory Challenge, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) of Team Onico, and young Simon Minoprio (NZL) have gone through the next round, while Jesper Radich (DEN) of Desafio Espanol, Magnus Holmberg (SWE) of Victory Challenge, Mathieu Richard (FRA) of Saba Racing, and Sebastien Col (FRA) of Areva Challenge have qualified from Group B.

Despite a promising start to the final day of round robin competition, with the sun coaxing both a seabreeze and several hundred spectators to the venue, by afternoon the conditions deteriorated back to the light air and rain that has thusfar been an unfortunate characteristic feature of Match Cup Sweden. The huge windshifts and holes in the breeze forced race managers to abandon races, and some of those that stood were marginal contests at best.

“It was really hard out there,” said Tour runner-up Ian Williams (GBR) of Team Pindar, who needed to win all his matches to have a chance at beating Minoprio on a tie-break. “We were ahead in some matches that were abandoned, but fell short on the ones that counted.” Minoprio’s 4th place finish in the group will mean he must race Group B winner Jesper Radich in the next round.

Mattias Rahm, who was always among the leaders in this group, pointed out the irony of not feeling this kind of pressure in the Quarter Finals. “In the Round Robin, you have to win all the matches that the other guys win against the weaker teams so you don’t get into trouble in the tie-breaks. But in the Quarter Finals everything starts over again and you can focus just on beating one team.”

In an unusual scenario, Brady, Rahm, and Hansen were all tied on nine points each after the incomplete conclusion of racing in Round Robin 2, so a complex tie break was employed to yield Rahm as the winner of the group, though this remains unofficial until the skippers briefing tomorrow morning whilst the Race Committee consult with the Jury to double check that the calculations are correct. He will face Sebastien Col, 4th place finisher from Group B. Hansen was second on count back with Brady, so he will face Mathieu Richard, and Brady in third will meet Holmberg.

Another irony was that one of the most exciting matches of the day was the re-match sailed between the first and last teams in Group B. In front of a huge lunchtime crowd, the leader of Group B, Jesper Radich (DEN) of Desafio Espanol, got a penalty while dueling against Claire Leroy (FRA). Leroy, who is top-ranked in the ISAF Women’s Rankings, led Radich for most of the last beat, but during a furious tacking duel to the top mark lost just enough to let Radich keep her out from getting around first.

With a penalty still to shed, Radich, now in the lead on the final run to the finish, needed to draw a penalty from Leroy to even the score, or somehow get around her to shed his penalty and still get to the finish first. Through a series of erratic moves to slow down and try and draw Leroy into an overlap to windward, Radich eventually succeeded, luffed Leroy nearly into the wind, then masterfully dropped his spinnaker, tacked around Leroy’s bow, and thereby completed his penalty turn.

The race was now to the finish, and with less than 100 metres left, it was Radich on the ropes now, as Leroy tried to use her leeward right of way to luff Radich in return, but the Danish team just squeezed over the women to get to the line to take the win by just a few metres.

Weather conditions permitting, Quarter Final racing will start tomorrow morning, followed by consolation round racing in the afternoon to determine 9th through 16th places.

Cumulative results:

Group A:
Mattias RAHM – Victory Challenge (SWE) 9-2
Gavin BRADY – BMW Oracle Racing (NZL) 9-3
Björn HANSEN – Team Onico (SWE) 9-3
Simon MINOPRIO (NZL) 7-5
Ian WILLIAMS – Team Pindar (GBR) 5-7
Torvar MIRSKY (AUS) 4-8
Evgeniy NEUGODNIKOV – Lord of the Sail Team (RUS) 3-9
Jenny AXHEDE (SWE) 2-10

Group B:
Jesper RADICH – Desafio Espanol (DEN) 13-1
Magnus HOLMBERG – Victory Challenge (SWE) 10-4
Mathieu RICHARD – Saba Sailing (FRA) 9-5
Sebastien COL - Areva Challenge (FRA) 7-7
Johnie BERNTSSON (SWE) 6-8
Eric MONNIN (SUI) 6-8
Claire LEROY (FRA) 4-10
Malin MILLBOURN (SWE) 1-13

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