Gram-Hansen out in front

After opening rounds of the Toscana Elba Cup match racing

Monday May 12th 2003, Author: Shawn McBride, Location: Italy
Prior to yesterday’s opening ceremonies for the Toscana Elba Cup-Trofeo Locman, Swedish Match Tour leader Jes Gram-Hansen of Team Victory Lane said he was feeling very confident heading into the regatta. That confidence showed through today, as Gram-Hansen and crew put on a dominating performance, posting a 5-0, record to advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

"We had a good game plan going into today," said Gram-Hansen. "Steve (Flam) was looking for wind pressure down the course and Rasmus (Kostner) and I were calling tactics. It's great to be working together with them."

When asked to further elaborate on his success, Gram-Hansen didn’t reveal his secrets but did offer that sailing in light conditions aboard the heavy IMX 40s is "quite complex. You need to keep good boat speed, have good tactics and get to the shifts."

Posting four wins on the day, and also advancing to the quarterfinals, was Sweden’s Magnus Holmberg, helmsman for the Victory Challenge. Back with Holmberg this week is his long-time tactician Stefan Rahm, who was absent from the Congressional Cup as he recuperated from knee surgery.

"It feels great to be back," said Rahm. "The other day in practice I felt quite a lot of pressure coming back to the team, feeling that I had a lot to live up to and not wanting to disappoint myself or anyone else."

Today’s result wouldn’t indicate that it was the Swedes’ first time racing the IMX 40s, but Rahm said it was a cause for concern for the former Swedish Match Tour Champions (2001).

"It’s always a challenge to climb aboard a new boat, to see how it sails and how everyone is going to work together," said Rahm. "That said, it’s fun to be on a big boat, and we know we’re going to sail much better as the week goes along, so we’re very happy with today and looking forward to the rest of the week."

The light air, which peaked at six knots, contributed to a quiet first day for the umpires as well. There were no penalties assessed today, but chief umpire Gerard Bosse is certain that the action, as well as the wind will increase.

"The breeze will be a bit stronger tomorrow and continue to build throughout the week," said Bosse. "The clouds we had today affected the sea breeze, but we’re going to see more wind, and more action, as the crews get more comfortable in the boats."

The 2003 Toscana Elba Cup – Trofeo Locman operates under a repechage format and features a single round robin followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. The event has a total prize purse of 206,500 Euros with 77,500 Euros, as well as the specially designed event trophy, being awarded to the winner.

The Toscsana Elba Cup – Trofeo Locman continues tomorrow with Group B taking to the water for their round robin.

TOSCSANA ELBA CUP – TROFEO LOCMAN LEADERBOARD
Group A
Skipper Wins Losses
1.Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Victory Lane 5 0*
2.Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team Holmberg 4 1*
3.James Spithill, AUS/Team Spithill 3 2
4.Sebastien Destremau, Le Defi Areva 2 3
5.Jesper Radich, DEN/Team Radich 1 4
6.Andy Beadsworth, GBR/United Airlines Sailing Team 0 5
*Advance to Quarterfinals

Flight 1
Spithill def. Beadsworth
Holmberg def. Radich
Gram-Hansen def. Destremau

Flight 2
Holmberg def. Beadsworth
Gram-Hansen def. Spithill
Destremau def. Radich

Flight 3
Gram-Hansen def. Holmberg
Spithill def. Destremau
Radich def. Beadsworth

Flight 4
Holmberg def. Destremau
Gram-Hansen def. Beadsworth
Spithill def. Radich

Flight 5
Destremau def. Beadsworth
Holmberg def. Spithill
Gram-Hansen def. Radich

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