Ainslie versus Baird

British Olympic star lines up against top American match racer on day one of Swan Cup

Sunday September 8th 2002, Author: Grace Harding, Location: Mediterranean
The 12th Swan Cup starts tomorrow, in Porto Cervo, Sardinia. 112 of the most luxurious yachts in the world are gathering at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, with crews ranging from amateurs to some of the top professionals in the sport. Two of the latter will start the event, as British Olympic hero Ben Ainslie takes on former World Champion Ed Baird from the USA in the Bvlgari Swan 45 Match Racing event.

Ainslie, fresh from his victories in the European and World Championships in the Finn Class, will use the knowledge acquired during his time with the OneWorld America's Cup syndicate to counter Baird's experience as skipper of Young America in the last America's Cup.

The two skippers will be helming two examples of Nautor's new high performance Swan 45: Baird will be on Tom Stark's Rush, while Ainslie will be steering Tony Mack's McFly. Despite less than five months on the water, both boats have already shown their class at major regattas, the New York Spring Series and Cowes Week respectively.

On Tuesday the remainder of the Swan racing fleet will join the action in a week of windward-leeward courses interspersed with longer courses around the gorgeous coastline of Sardinia.

The regatta features entries from 21 countries, with the largest contingent from Italy (27), UK (18), German (16), USA (11) and France (10). Also represented are Japan (2), Chile(2) Australia (1), China (1) and Hong Kong (1). After six days of intense racing the, Swan Cup culminates with Club Swan Race day on Sunday 15th September.

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