Coutts to sail Italian match race

Ainghi's America's Cup legend to head roster of top skippers at Swedish Match Tour's Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman

Wednesday April 14th 2004, Author: Shawn McNeill, Location: Italy
The most decorated skipper in the history of the America’s Cup, Russell Coutts (NZL) highlights an array of Swedish Match Tour veterans and America’s Cup Class sailors who have accepted invitations to compete in the third annual Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman on 3-9 May. Coutts, 42, has won three consecutive America’s Cup Matches winning win 14 consecutive races in the Cup Match. Both feats are unequaled in the 153-year history of the event.

Joining Coutts in Elba are Swedish Match Tour aces Peter Gilmour (AUS) and his Pizza-La Sailing Team, Magnus Holmberg (SWE) and his SeaLife Rangers crew, and Jesper Radich (DEN) of Team Denmark. Gilmour heads the Swedish Match Tour Championship Leaderboard with the high
score of 65 points.

Holmberg, second on the leaderboard and 20 points behind Gilmour, is the defending champion of the Toscana Elba Cup –- Trofeo Locman. Holmberg defeated Australia’s James Spithill 3-2 in last year’s final after he rallied from a 2-1 deficit.

Radich is the reigning champion of the Swedish Match Tour. He won the 2002-’03 Tour with a 15-point cushion, and is placed third on the 2003-’04 leaderboard with 35 points.

Coutts is tied for ninth on the leaderboard with 10 points. A top three finish at the Toscana Elba Cup – Trofeo Locman could vault him into the top five or higher.

The third annual Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman is the fifth event of the Swedish Match Tour. With sponsorship from Locman watches and the Toscana Region of Italy, the week-long regatta features prize mooney of Euro 100,000 with Euro 35,000 going to for the winner.

Elba is the largest island in Italy’s Tuscan Archipelago and lays in the Tyrrhenian Sea, about 6 miles west from Piombino, Italy. The 86-square-mile island is graced with stunning beaches, striking topography, and once hosted Napoleon in exile.

A new venue, Porto Azzurro, situated on Elba’s Southeastern coast, will host the event that previously was sailed out of Portoferraio. Event organiser Antonio Nappi said that the venue was moved to bring the racing closer to shore and enhance spectator appeal.

Other America’s Cup Class sailors dominate the lineup, including Bertrand Pacé (FRA), the first Swedish Match Tour champion in 2000, representing Team France, and Philippe Presti (FRA) of le Défi Français. Oracle BMW Racing’s helmsman Gavin Brady (NZL) and reigning match-racing world champion Ed Baird (USA) plan to attend their second consecutive events, and 22-year-old newcomer Michael Dunstan (AUS) will make the Tour debut of the OzBoyz Challenge of Australia.

John Cutler (NZL), representing the Mascalzone Latino Sailing Team, Paolo Cian (ITA), helmsman of the Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team, and Karol Jablonski (POL), a past match-racing world champion, have also said they’ll compete.

The Toscana Elba Cup features one of the biggest boats on the Swedish Match Tour, the IMX 40. The 40-foot, masthead-rigged sloop requires a crew of seven.

Before the Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman the Swedish Match Tour will visit Long Beach, California, for the fourth event on the 2003-’04 Tour, the 40th annual Congressional Cup, on 19-24 April.

After the Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman, the Swedish Match Tour 2003-’04 schedule continues with the ACI HTmobile Cup in Split, Croatia (May 24-29), Match Race Germany (June 8-14), and the season-ending Swedish Match Cup (July 5-11).

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