Star line up
The Danes' confident posture is a result of their success of the past twelve months which has provided them with a new level of self-assurance in their abilities and comfort in their surroundings.
“One important thing from winning the Swedish Match Tour is that by now we have met most of these guys and have beat most of them,” said Radich. “We’re not scared anymore or nervous when we get to the line. We didn’t have that experience in the past, but we now know we’re at a level of sailing that we can compete with anyone out here.”
Radich’s countryman Jes Gram-Hansen of Team Colorcraft was runner-up here last year to Radich and defeated his Round 1 opponent Peter Bromby of Team Ace Group in an exciting five match semifinal.
“While he may not be a regular competitor on the Swedish Match Tour, we know that Peter is a very good sailor and knows these boats very well,” said Gram-Hansen. “When we’ve sailed him before the races have been very close and he’s had a full round to prepare, but on the other hand we’ve been practicing in a fleet of these boats in Sweden, so it should be some very good racing tomorrow.”
The regatta’s third seed US Virgin Islander Peter Holmberg of Team Gramicci is a former champion of this event (2001) and a former champion of the Swedish Match Tour (2002). He will do battle with American Bill Hardesty, a dark horse challenger competing in one of his first match racing regattas.
“We spent three days last week training in Newport (R.I.) with Peter in Shields and he really whipped up on us, but he also gave us a lot of tips that have helped us so far this week. Hopefully, we can give him a good run (on Wednesday),” said Hardesty.
Australian Peter Gilmour of the Pizza La Sailing Team is the fourth seed and faces Finland’s Staffan Lindberg. Lindberg is anxious for his confrontation with Gilmour, a two-time winner of this event (1995, `97).
“We are looking for revenge against Peter after coming up short against him at the Swedish Match Cup, I’m sure it will be a very good match as we are sailing well right now and he and his crew are excellent,” said Lindberg.
New Zealand’s Cameron Dunn, while part of the Oracle BMW Racing Team was on the short end of his last battle with fifth seeded skipper Russell Coutts of Team Alinghi in the America’s Cup Challenger Series. Dunn, is nonplussed with tomorrow’s match against his more famous countryman. “We’re going to treat him as we have every other team this week, get off the start line really well and take it one race at a time.”
Dean Barker, skipper of Team New Zealand, and his Omega Match Racing Team, seeded sixth, will face American Ed Baird and his Team Musto. Baird, a long-time veteran of international match racing, reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champion and a television commentator for the most recent America’s Cup is very familiar with Barker and his crew.
“I’m sure Dean is fresh and excited and I’m sure he’s on his game, so we’ve won our unseeded draw and now look what we have to do!” joked Baird following the conclusion of the qualifying round.
Chris Dickson, head of the Oracle BMW Racing Team is seeded seventh and faces Jenny Axhede of Team Panorama, runner-up in today’s Bermuda International Women’s Match Racing regatta, who pushed eventual champion Paula Lewin of Team Ace Group to the five match maximum.
“I think its very exciting for Jenny to race against Chris Dickson in only her second match racing regatta at the helm,” said crew member Anna Holmdahl on behalf of Axhede. “We will certainly give it our best effort and see what happens.”
Dickson a two-time winner of this event (1987, `89) has a top flight crew with him this week including Gavin Brady, himself a regular competitor on the Swedish Match Tour and runner-up to Peter Holmberg here in 1991.
Meanwhile, eighth seed America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner, will face Lewin, who has crewed for Conner in this event in the past.
“I can’t wait!” exclaimed Lewin, when asked about facing Conner. “I sailed with him two years ago and I’m really excited, we’ve been sailing for four days, so we’re ready.”