Britain's Matthew HUMPHRIES and his crew onboard Team Elanders hit the jackpot again in Sandhamn today, but Humphries is not taking anything for granted.
Sony Ericsson has brought in Danish Olympic sailor, Stig WESTERGAARD, as starting helmsman, to take on Team Elanders' Kiwi match racer Cameron APPLETON.
Today's race was originally scheduled to be held in Kiel, but was postponed due to bad weather. The Race Committee started the 18-nautical mile inshore race just off Sandhamn on Stockholm's outer archipelago and immediately there were two match races going on. Team Elanders locked onto Sony Ericsson and JMS clashed with Avant - resulting a protest, which will be heard tonight.
"Our pre-start manoeuvres weren't sharp enough,"
said Westergaard who received a telephone call from Sony Ericsson's skipper Thomas BLIXT. "We need to get that tuned up, then we'll kick their butt,"
said Westergaard with a grin. Even so, Sony Ericsson was still only four minutes behind Team Elanders at the finish. The Danish Olympic and World Champion sailor will now sail for the rest of the series, as starting helmsman on Sony Ericsson and back up to ace driver, Jeff SCOTT, who has helmed the boat without a break throughout the series. "He (Scott) looked like a ghost when I got here, so I'm the backup,"
Drinking champagne on the dock, the crew from Team Elanders looked very relaxed, but not, insisted skipper Matthew HUMPHRIES, 'complacent.' After winning the start, rounding the windward mark in front and leading the fleet down the second of the two spinnaker legs, Team Elanders could only watch as Sony Ericsson over took them. But, while Sony Ericsson chose to hoist a gennaker, the crew on Team Elanders stayed high on the course, hooked into the new wind and then sailed away. "Ray (Davies/NZL) did a brilliant job,"
said Matthew. "It was amazing, but it's far from over and we're not thinking in any way that we're ahead. We'll just fight harder to get the best out of the boat. We're going to continue to use that momentum, stay focussed and in control."
Sparks are flying between Avant and JMS Generation and a protest will be heard tonight over a port/starboard incident at the start. "We are really surprised about the behaviour of JMS Next Generation,"
said a furious Mikael LUNDH. "They ignored the rules and we are protesting them. It's dangerous and it's not the first time we have had this situation."
In spite of this, Avant finished eight minutes ahead of JMS Next Generation and Lundh was very pleased with his crew of youngsters: "It was a very tricky race with light air. The crew worked really, really hard, and I'm very proud of them,"
The Croatians on AV-Teknik had a rough day. A mooring warp got wrapped round their propeller and they left the dock late and under tow. The bad luck continued when they ran out of water on the way to the start, and couldn't gybe quickly enough to avoid going aground. The team then retired.
Finishing positions race 4 (postponed from Kiel and held in Sandhamn today) - subject to protest
1 Team Elanders (Matthew Humphries, UK)
2 Sony Ericsson (Thomas Blixt, Swe)
3 Avant (M Lundh, Swe)
4 JMS Next Generation (Stefan Eneman, Swe/Kjell-Inge Heiberg, Nor)
5 AV Teknik (Marko Murtic, Cro)
Positions overall after leg 6 (now including race 4)
1 Team Elanders 23.0 points
2 Sony Ericsson 22 points
3 JMS Next Generation 13.0 points
4 Avant 11.5 points
5 AV Teknik 5.5 points