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7 May 2004, 09:05 am
Jablonski And Brady Undefeated as Coutts Bombs
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© Simon Palfrader/SEA&SEE

Toscana Elba Cup

As America's Cup Winner Russell COUTTS (NZL) bottoms out on the leader board, Karol JABLONSKI (POL), ranked first in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, and Gavin BRADY (NZL), Oracle BMW Helmsman remain undefeated in the ISAF Grade 1 event.
Day three went much smoother than the first two days. Yesterday was supposed to be worse than the first two days when rain and uncooperative winds aggravated racing, but event organizer Antonio NAPPI refused to believe the weather forecast that suggested gale force winds.

Nappi was duly rewarded. The winds were light and shifty early in the day, between 6 and 8 knots from the south/southeast. By mid-afternoon a strong westerly filled and the race committee completed six flights, 19 matches (including a re-sailed match) overall.

The race committee, however, was forced to move the racecourse all over the area of Porto Azzurro. The light southerly winds early in the day forced the racecourse outside of the bay. When the westerlies filled they were able to move the course inside the bay, parallel to the shorelines. Then the final flight of the day was sailed out of the bay.

Brady won all four of his matches, beating Ed BAIRD (USA/Team Musto), Jesper RADICH (DEN/Team Denmark), Russell COUTTS (NZL/Alinghi Team) and Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE/SeaLife Rangers).

His third win of the day came when Coutts had to perform a penalty turn on the finish line. That allowed Brady to roll past for the win. After that victory, he sat shoreside for up to three hours before returning to the water for the fourth match, and nearly paid for it.

"There's a certain amount of downtime," Brady said. "It's tough to manage. The teams that manage it well might win one more race than the teams that don't. And that could be the difference between advancing or not."

In his last match against Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE/SeaLife Rangers), Brady trailed around the racecourse by as much as 40 seconds in his estimation until he rolled Holmberg at the finish.

"He (Holmberg) went the wrong way once, and we were back in it," Brady said.

Jablonski also continued his fine sailing by winning all three of his matches, which were held in the afternoon. He defeated Holmberg, Coutts and Baird.

"Our crew work is going well, and Jes is doing a good job calling tactics," Jablonski said, referring to Danish tactician Jes GRAM-HANSEN.

"It's very shifty out there," Jablonski continued. "Sometimes you have to leave the competition and sail to a shift. But you never know how it'll end up. Sometimes it (the shift) can disappear pretty fast. You don't want to risk the big splits."

Among the highlights in the first three flights of the day involved Peter GILMOUR'S Pizza-La Sailing Team, who won three of four matches. They improved their record to 4-2 and hold third place in the standings.

Gilmour beat Coutts in the first match of the day and Pacé in the second flight, rallying for come-from-behind victories each time. Against Coutts, Gilmour trailed by three boatlengths at the windward mark. But he and his crew pulled off a quick gybe while Coutts and his Alinghi Team did a bear-away set, which allowed Gilmour to roll Coutts.

Gilmour rounded the leeward mark just ahead of Coutts, but then extended on the next beat to win by three lengths.

Against Pacé, Gilmour received a pre-start penalty, which he carried around the course. On the racetrack, Gilmour and Pace were very evenly matched. They sailed within two boatlengths of each other until the final run.

At the top of the second beat as the two tacked to port for the windward mark, Gilmour held the inside position. Instead of bearing away, Gilmour held Pacé head-to-wind, luffing. Gilmour broke away first and had a clean set, opening a two-length lead with the run to the finish ahead.

Gilmour added another length to his lead in the 7-knot winds, but still had a penalty to complete to win the match. As he approached the line, his crew raised the jib, lowered the spinnaker and performed their 270-degree penalty turn as Pacé closed from behind.

Pacé was too far behind, however, and Gilmour pulled off the win.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is Coutts, who is in 12 place with a 1-5 score. His one victory came against Baird. Coutts has been off the Tour for a while and says he is here just to have fun. But for a three-time America's Cup champion, losing is no fun.

Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman Standings: (After 12 of 22 scheduled flights)

Pos. Skipper Team Win Loss Points
1 Karol JABLONSKI Toscana Challenge 7 0 7
2 Gavin BRADY Oracle BMW Racing 6 0 6
3 Peter GILMOUR Pizza-La Sailing Team 4 2 4
4 Jesper RADICH Team Denmark 3 3 3
5 Magnus HOLMBERG Sea-life Rangers 3 4 3
6 Bertrand PACE' Team France 2 3 2
6 John CUTLER Mascalzone Latino 2 3 2
6 Philippe PRESTI Le Defi' 2 3 2
6 Michael DUNSTAN OzBoyz Challenge 2 3 2
10 Paolo CIAN Italian Challenge 2 5 2
10 Ed BAIRD Team Musto 2 5 2
11 Russell COUTTS Alinghi Team 1 5 1
Sean McNeill (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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