Two in a row for Radich
Monday June 9th 2003, Author: Andy Rice, Location: none selectedJesper Radich and his Danish teammates wiped the floor on the final day of racing at Match Race Germany on Lake Constance today. Confident starting, superior boathandling and a little bit of luck saw Radich dispatch American Ed Baird of Team Musto 2-0 in the semi-finals, and France’s Luc Pillot 3-0 in the finals.
The in-form 27-year-old has now won two Swedish Match events in a row. Last week he rode his luck to win the ACI HTmobile Cup in Croatia, but this week he proved Croatia was no fluke with a confident display throughout each round of a frustratingly light-wind Match Race Germany.
Radich often made life hard for himself with a pre-start penalty or a premature start, but such was his boat speed in the three-man Diamant 2000 yachts that he seemed able to overtake his opponents at will. Match one of the final was a case in point. “I blew the start completely,” he admitted at the prizegiving afterwards. “I could have waited a little longer before heading up, but I miscalculated and was over the line at the gun.”
But his French opponent saw a comfortable lead up the first beat dwindle to little more than a boat length by the windward mark, and from there Radich was able to grind Pillot down. Radich commented: “After going back for the start, we just said, ‘OK, we’ve been here before, we have good speed, so let’s see what we can do.’ ”
It didn’t help Pillot that they finished both of the first two matches to discover weed around the rudder, but even so, Radich always looked the more comfortable around the boat. His crew, Winston Rasmussen and Anders Kristensen, looked particularly slick with the spinnaker work, frequently getting the kite set before the boat had even passed the windward mark.
Pillot’s bowman, Bernard Labro, admitted their starting had let them down, and said the weed hadn’t helped either, but he was generous with praise for the dominant Danes. “For sure we have seen the right guys win this week. They have been strong all week,” he said.
It was surprising to see the French lose the final in straight matches, having sailed so well against Alinghi’s Jochen Schumann in the semifinals. The German had been overnight leader but things just didn’t go his way today. Never known as a strong starter, the triple Olympic Champion often relies on superior boat speed and tactics to pull him through. But he went down 2-1 to Pillot, and then lost 2-0 in the petit-final for third place against Baird.
Baird was not happy to have raced Radich in a semifinal that was at times almost mirror calm after the early morning easterly dwindled to nothing by late morning. “I don’t think they should have held semifinal racing in that kind of breeze, but the danger was that that might have been the end of the wind for the day.” Race officer Rudi Magg was finally forced to pull the boats ashore and wait for some breeze to materialize. On previous evidence that was unlikely to happen until late afternoon, and the race committee might have had to resort to round robin rankings to decide the overall placings.
Fortunately the wind gods were smiling, and a pleasant westerly Force 2 came in just 40 minutes later. The finals and petit-finals took place in some of the best breeze of the regatta.
After their starting mistake in the first race, Radich sailed two solid heats to cross the finishing line comfortably ahead. The grinning Dane started high-fiving and punching the air a minute before they crossed the finish line. When the winner’s gun sounded, the crowds on the shore cheered loudly. The three Danes sprayed each other with Champagne Mumm and then pushed each other in the water.
They swam ashore to a rapturous welcome from the crowd. For the locals, it wasn’t a perfect ending as they would have loved their golden boy Schumann to have continued his excellent form from the quarterfinals, but Radich was certainly a popular winner.
The talented Dane makes no secret of where his ambitions lie. “I hope the America’s Cup teams will take notice of what we have achieved recently, because I would love to get involved in that scene,” he said. For the time being he can enjoy the €4,800 that he takes away from Langenargen, and he can look forward to defending his lead in the Swedish Match Tour at the final event in Marstrand, Sweden, in just three weeks’ time. If he can do that, he will take home US$60,000, and then the America’s Cup teams really should take notice of an up-and-coming talent.
SWEDISH MATCH TOUR 2002/2003 RANKINGS
1.Jesper Radich, DEN/Team Radich 103
2.Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Victory Lane 88
3. James Spithill, AUS/Team Spithill 86
4.Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto 57
5.Chris Law, GBR/”The Outlaws” 51
6.Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team Holmberg 50
7.Paolo Cian, ITA/Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team 47
8.Karol Jablonski, POL/Jablonski Sailing Team 46
Final Match Race Germany Standings
1. Jesper Radich (DEN/Team Radich), €4,800
2. Luc Pillot (FRA/Team Pillot), €2,800
3. Ed Baird (USA/Team Musto), €2,400
4. Jochen Schumann (Alinghi Team), €2,000
5. Mikael Lindquist (SWE), €2,000
6. Markus Wieser (GER), €1,600
7. Henrik Jensen (DEN), €1,400
8. Jes Gram Hansen (DEN/Team Victory Lane), €1,200
9.Mattias Rahm (SWE/Team Stena Bulk), €1,000
10.Staffan Lindberg (FIN), €799.99
11.Andreas Willim (GER)
12.Chris Law (GBR/”The Outlaws”)
Jesper Radich def. Ed Baird 2-0
Luc Pillot def. Jochen Schumann 2-1
Baird def Schumann 2-0
Radich def. Pillot 3-0