Headbanging day of knock downs

At day two of the ACI HTmobile Cup Swedish Match Tour match racing in Split

Thursday May 29th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Mediterranean
Another lively day of racing for day two of the Swedish Match Tour’s ACI HT mobile Cup, saw a Danish trimmer receive a crack on the head from his boat’s boom and a number of severe broaches as a squall created turmoil in the first flight.

Just as the wind picked up from 10 to 20 knots prior to the first starts of the day, Jesper Radich’s trimmer Chresten Plinius received a blow to the skull by the boom on his Jeanneau One Design. Plinius was rushed to hospital where he received four stitches but was back on board in time to compete in the second flight.

“Sailing is dangerous if you are more than 1.10m tall and don’t duck!” joked Plinius, unphased by his injury. “At Bermuda [the Gold Cup] I got five on top and one in the eye. So this time I was lucky…”

Another injury was sustained by Jes Gram Hansen’s crewman Peter Blakskjaer on the practice day on Monday. Blakskjaer, who does bow for the Swedish Match Tour leader, slipped on the coach roof of his boat and landed directly on his finger, breaking it. For the ACI Htmobile Cup he has been replaced by local Croatian Edi Pilav.

Today racing was as difficult for the competitors as it was for the race committee, although it allowed all but one of the flights in the first round robin to be sailed. The wind shifted constantly throughout the day. “The wind was not according to the forecast,” explained Principle Race Office Alen Kustic. “The wind direction was wrong totally. There was a small storm inside the country close to Split and that changed everything. The forecast wind was WNW and normally it would have shifted during the day from northeast and it would make a circle and come up again from the north west. It didn’t.”

The biggest incidents came as a squall, known locally as a ‘Dirty Bora’ (because its wind direction varies) passed over the fleet during the first flight. At one point Kustic says it was blowing 35 knots at sea level, and probably 40 knots at the masthead. As the gust hit a number of boats were laid flat and were pinned for around 30 seconds, their crew helpless. To add to the frustration of the race committee the weather mark dragged anchor in the gust.

Worst affected by the conditions was Jes Gram Hansen whose boat broached while he was locked in a downwind luffing match with Magnus Holmberg. This was the start of a bad day for the Swedish Match Tour leader, losing four races and winning just one. “It was not a good day,” the Dane commented on his return to Split’s ACI Marina. “We lost too many. It is not good enough. It was very very very difficult conditions and a couple of times we just got stuck. But that’s sailing. It’s another day tomorrow. We’ll see if the damage can be repaired.”

Making the best of the conditions was Australian America’s Cup helmsman James Spithill with his crew, all of whom sailed with him on the OneWorld race boat in the America’s Cup. “In the Bora, it was amazing. We finally got the boats to plane downwind. I thought it would never happen. It only took about 30 knots!”

Spithill has dropped just two of the eight races he has sailed in this first flight. Two today he won after coming from behind. “It was real boat-on-boat stuff and just our speed and tactics were able to help us out a bit. I’m pretty happy with our speed. Upwind we are sailing really well. Charlie [McKee] is doing a great job on tactics.”

To add to the complications caused by the ‘dirty Bora’ was the northwesterly flowing current that in the light winds that prevailed this afternoon caused several boats to collide with marks and pick up penalties as a result. This fooled even old hands like Magnus Holmberg, narrowly the leader after today’s racing. “I messed up the start against Karol Jabolski. That was the race we lost. I got stuck at the pin end and hit the mark. We were early and there was quite a lot of current. So he managed to get on top of us and get to the favoured side of the course.”

Tommorrow the wind conditions look like they will be equally awkward with a northwest breeze established offshore and a northeasterly onshore.

PRELIMINARY RESULTS – ACI Htmobile Cup – Second stage - Round Robin One

Flight 4
Berntsson def Cian
Jablonski def Spithill
Holmberg def Gram Hansen
Coutts def Brate
(Radich v Rahm – not sailed)

Flight 5
Law def Berntsson
Cian def Jablonski
Holmberg def Brate
Rahm def Coutts
Radic def Gram Hansen

Flight 6
Spithill def Gram Hansen
Rahm def Law
Cian def Coutts
Berntsson def Brate
Jablonski def Holmberg

Flight 7
Spithill def Radich
Gram Hansen def Law
Cian def Brate
Jablonski def Coutts
Holmberg def Berntsson

Flight 8
Radich def Law
Spithill def Rahm
Jablonski def Brate
Holmberg def Cian
Coutts def Berntsson

Flight 9
Holmberg def Spithill
Law def Brate
Jablonski def Gram Hansen
Radich def Berntsson
Cian def Rahm

Overall points
Magnus Holmberg (Swe) – won 7 of 9 races
Karol Jablonski (Pol) – won 6 of 8 races
James Spithill (Aus) – won 6 of 8 races
Jesper Radich (Den) – won 5 of 7 races
Jes Gram Hanson (Den) – won 4 of 8 races
Paolo Cian (It) – won 4 of 8 races
Chris Law (GB) – won 4 of 8 races
Mattias Rahm (Swe) – won 3 of 7 races
Allan Coutts (NZ) – won 3 of 8 races
Johnie Berntsson (Swe) – won 2 of 8 races
Frane Brate (CRO) – won 0 or 9 races.

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