HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, and the Crown Princess-to-be, Australia's Miss Mary Donaldson, will battle each other with the assistance of two yachtsmen, both sailing icons in their respective countries.
Australian John BERTRAND, will champion the cause for the Tasmanian born bride-to-be. Famous for his 'come from behind victory' with Australia II in 1983 when he beat Dennis CONNOR (Liberty) to take the America's Cup from the New York Yacht Club, Bertrand has not competed on the match racing circuit in recent years, but still has that same fighting spirit, as his most recent racing effort shows.
Bertrand, with Sydney sailors Mark RICHARDS and Richie ALLANSON, is currently campaigning in quest of another World Championship, in the hotly contested Etchells class to be held in Mooloolaba in July 2004.
Two weeks ago Bertrand and his crew, aboard a chartered local boat, were second going into the last race of the New Zealand Etchells titles on Hauraki Gulf. This title, of considerable prestige in the sailing world, is one Bertrand won in 1999 and 2001 while his old rival Denis CONNER won it in 1998 and 2000.
Bertrand needed to beat New Zealander Cameron APPLETON, who sailed with the 2003 Kiwi America's Cup team, by two places to win. In the pre-start for the deciding race, Bertrand forced Appleton into a match racing duel, pushing the series leader over the line before the gun.
Bertrand commented about the ensuing battle."I hope the Australia versus Denmark match race we're going to have in Copenhagen is less eventful!"
It should be, but it could be just as tight. Crown Prince Frederik is a top world ranked Dragon sailor in his own right, but he's called in a top gun in his match race against his bride-to-be.
To match the Australian legend, the Danish boat will be skippered by Jesper BANK, 47, Denmark's triple Olympic medallist, who won a Soling Class fleet and match racing Olympic bronze medal in 1988, a Gold Medal in Barcelona in 1992 and another Gold at Sydney's 2000 Olympics. Additionally, Bank was helmsman aboard the Swedish 'Victory Challenge' in the last Louis Vuitton Cup.
Asked what position non-sailor Mary DONALDSON would take on the Australian skippered boat, Bertrand replied, "most of our crew will be Danish. I'm hoping the famous Danish sailor, Paul ELVSTROM, a 76-year-old quadruple gold medallist, will honour us with his presence. Mary will be our interpreter, (from Australian into Danish), and vice versa. We are going to have fun and it's going to be a great occasion for sailing.
Perhaps Bertrand, the patron of Skandia Geelong Week the largest keel-boat regatta in Australia, would like to see an Australia-Denmark return match in Geelong in January 2005.
January - winter in Denmark - summer in Australia. It seems just be the place to be for a Danish Crown Prince and his Australian Crown Princess.
Maybe we are going to see the birth of a new World sailing series?