Overcoming not only a tough competitor but also difficult sailing conditions, France's Bertrand Pacé and his Team France crew have won the 18th annual, ISAF Grade 1 ACI HTmobile Cup.
Pacé and crew - Benoit BRIAND (headsails), Tanguy CAIDOU (mainsail), Fabrice LEVET (tactics and pit) and Romain TROUBLÉ (bow) - defeated Peter GILMOUR'S Pizza-La Sailing Team, 3-0, in the final that was plagued by light and extremely shifty winds.
"I feel relieved,"
Pacé said afterwards. "When it's finished it's very easy."
Pacé won the first flight outright. In the second flight he came from behind when the wind shifted 180 degrees during the race.
Gilmour got a penalty on Pacé in the third flight pre-start, but the Frenchman was able to extend far enough ahead in the light conditions to perform his penalty turn at the finish line and claim the championship while Gilmour was still some eight lengths behind.
"Bertrand did a good job,"
said Gilmour. "He started better than us and kept himself alive."
"We came here to win a regatta,"
said Gilmour, clearly upset. "We're consistently in the finals, but we're not consistently winning. We'll have to go back to the drawing board."
Gilmour has won two events, but he has placed second in the last two events. He lost to Russell COUTTS at the Toscana Elba Cup two weeks ago. And he placed fourth at the Congressional Cup in April, after winning the round robin.
In yesterday's final, both crews were put to the test. A decent wind failed to materialize until late in the day. The first attention signal scheduled for 11:00 a.m. was postponed until 2:50 p.m.
A low-pressure system centered over host city Split was the culprit. The system moved over the area five to six hours earlier than predicted, and then parked, robbing the area of any kind of wind pressure.
The race committee attempted a flight around 2:00 in a southeasterly wind, but it quickly died after the first pair, the petit final match featuring Magnus Holmberg's SeaLife Rangers versus Jes GRAM-HANSEN'S Team Denmark, started.
Their flight was abandoned after four and a half minutes.
Another 45 minutes passed before the race committee attempted to race again.
Once racing started, Pacé displayed a calm demeanor, despite the trying conditions. Despite competing in just his second event on Tour, he sailed brilliantly.
"My crew did a great job,"
he said. "Fabrice did a great job calling the wind and everyone was very supportive."
Pacé was particularly pleased with his starts. Gilmour is renowned for his finesse in the pre-start, but Pacé felt that was the key to his victory.
"I got what I wanted in every start,"
said Pacé, who started to the left of Gilmour in the first flight, and then to the right of him in the next two flights.
In the petit final, Holmberg defeated Gram-Hansen 2-0. Wind shifts and patchy conditions had an impact on the outcome.
In the second flight, Holmberg held a big lead up the first beat and around the windward mark. But Gram-Hansen attacked downwind, and closed up around the leeward mark.
Gram-Hansen gained the lead early on the second beat, and led around the second windward mark. He seemed on his way to victory, given that Holmberg was carrying a penalty for contact in the pre-start.
But Gram-Hansen sailed into a hole on the run and Holmberg, trailing, jibed away to the inside of him. Gram-Hansen tried jibing to cover, but couldn't escape the clutches of the windless hole.
Holmberg retook the lead and did his penalty circle on the finish line. As soon as the race committee signalled Holmberg's finish, Gram-Hansen, frustrated, fired up his engine and powered back to the dock.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.