Baird dominates

In the first round robin of the Swedish Match Tour's Match Race Germany reports Andy Rice

Friday June 6th 2003, Author: Andy Rice, Location: none selected
Ed Baird won all but one of his matches in Round Robin One today to lead his half of the group into the next round of the Swedish Match Tour’s Match Race Germany on Lake Constance.

The only match Baird lost today was against America’s Cup winner and German hero Jochen Schumann of the Alinghi Team. Their match was a close fought affair, with the outcome still very much in the balance at the leeward mark. Baird was forced to take a penalty for not giving enough room at the mark. “We thought he turned too quickly and didn’t need to hit us, but as it turned it made no difference. He claimed the favoured side of the next beat and that was what won it for him,” Baird commented later.

Conditions on Lake Constance were much kinder today, with the sailors and race organisers welcoming the arrival of a steady 6-10 knots from the west. Clearly, the more stable breezes suited Baird who looked at home in the three-man Diamond 2000 yachts. Perhaps it is significant that both Schumann and Baird have competed in the Olympic Soling keelboat, but Baird said these yachts were vastly different.

"They are very complicated boats for their size, which makes them difficult to handle, what with running backstays and fine tuners leading off the backstays," said Baird. "You have to use all the pieces to get the best out of the boat, but then it’s easy to get distracted from what’s going on around you on the race course. It’s easy to get too heads-down in these boats."

He was also not taking his four race wins for granted, either. "Every time we win any race on the Swedish Match Tour, we feel good, because there are no easy matches here."

For Schumann, this was the first time he had helmed a small boat in two years, the last time being at Match Race Germany in 2001, when he lost in the finals to fellow German Markus Wieser. "It felt unusual but it was good to be helming a small boat again,” he said. People think of him as having spent the past two years as part of the brains trust at the back of Alinghi for the America’s Cup, which he was, but Schumann pointed out that he has also had plenty of big boat helming experience during that time, as the B boat driver during Alinghi’s training sessions. His focus on big boats appears to have done him little harm as he finished third in his group with a 3:2 score, with Wieser just ahead on 4:1.

Strangely, for someone who has just come out of a long period of match racing down in Auckland, Schumann’s vulnerability appeared to be in the pre-start phase. His saving grace was some awesome downwind pace, which on one notable occasion hauled him past Denmark’s Jesper Radich just metres before the finish line.

Wieser professes himself to have retired from match racing, preferring instead to helm big boats in the Mediterranean for the time being. And yet the form that drove him to victory here two years ago has not yet eluded him. "I was glad the wind came in today, as it was less of a gamble than for the sailors yesterday," he said. He certainly looked at ease in the boat, but he believed any of the top eight that have gone through to the next round are capable of winning the event.

The other half of the group had a distinctly Scandinavian flavour. Denmark’s Jes Gram Hansen of Team Victory Lane sailed a flawless two races to add to his two victories the previous evening, and holds the top spot on his side of the draw with a score of 4:1.

Another Dane, Henrik Jensen, took second spot ahead of Sweden’s Mikael Lindquist. Gram Hansen and Lindquist both acknowledged that they had come through the easier side of the draw, and are expecting a tough battle when they face up to Baird and the other performers from Group B.

Today’s racing also dispatched the bottom four teams out of the event. They are Andreas Willim of Germany, Chris Law and “The Outlaws” of Great Britain, Staffan Lindberg of Finland, and Matthias Rahm of Sweden. While the other eight teams took the afternoon off, the race committee used the dying breezes of the late afternoon to decide the minor overall placings from 9th to 12th. Rahm made up for some lost pride by winning the sail-off and finishing 9th in the competition.

GROUP A LEADERBOARD

Skipper Wins Losses
1.Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Victory Lane 4 1*
2.Henrik Jensen, DEN 3 2*
3.Mikael Lindquist, SWE 3 2*
4.Luc Pillot, FRA/Team Pillot 3 2*
5.Andreas Willim, GER 1 4
6.Staffan Lindberg, FIN 1 4

* Qualify for quarterfinals

Flight 1
Henrik Jensen def. Andreas Willim
Jes Gram Hansen def. Staffan Lindberg
Mikael Lindquist def. Luc Pillot

Flight 2
Andreas Willim def. Staffan Lindberg
Henrik Jensen def. Mikael Lindquist
Luc Pillot def. Jes Gram Hansen

Flight 3
Mikael Lindquist def. Staffan Lindberg
Henrik Jensen def. Luc Pillot
Jes Gram Hansen def. Andreas Willim

Flight 4
Luc Pillot def. Staffan Lindberg
Mikael Lindquist def. Andreas Willim
Jes Gram Hansen def. Henrik Jensen

Flight 5
Luc Pillot def. Andreas Willim
Staffan Lindberg def. Henrik Jensen
Jes Gram Hansen def. Mikael Lindquist

GROUP B LEADERBOARD
Skipper Wins Losses
1.Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto 4 1*
2.Markus Wieser, GER 3 2*
3.Jochen Schumann, Alinghi Team 3 2*
4.Jesper Radich, DEN/Team Radich 2 3*
5.Chris Law, GBR/”The Outlaws” 1 4
6.Mattias Rahm, SWE/Team Stena Bulk 0 5

*Qualify for quarterfinals

Flight 1
Markus Wieser def. Chris Law
Jesper Radich def. Matthias Rahm
Jochen Schumann def. Ed Baird

Flight 2
Chris Law def. Matthias Rahm
Ed Baird def. Markus Wieser
Jochen Schumann def. Jesper Radich

Flight 3
Ed Baird def. Matthias Rahm
Markus Wieser def. Jochen Schumann
Jesper Radich def. Chris Law

Flight 4
Jochen Schumann def. Matthias Rahm
Ed Baird def. Chris Law
Markus Wieser def. Jesper Radich

Flight 5
Chris Law def. Jochen Schumann
Markus Wieser def. Matthias Rahm
Ed Baird def. Jesper Radich

SAIL-OFFS FOR 9 –12
Skipper Wins Losses
9.Mattias Rahm, SWE/Team Stena Bulk 2 1
10.Staffan Lindberg, FIN 2 1
11.Andreas Willim, GER 1 2
12.Chris Law, GBR/”The Outlaws” 1 2

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