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6 May 2004, 10:37 am
Lack Of Wind Changed The Course Of Day Two
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Ed BAIRD v Peter GILMOUR© Event Media

Toscana Elba Cup

The teams finished the fifth flight of the eliminatory rounds yesterday but only took to the water in the afternoon due to an almost complete lack of wind in the morning and postponement by the race committee.
At 12:00 p.m. Principal Race Officer Giorgio LAURO lowered the postponement signal and sent the crews to the bay as a 6- to 8-knot southeasterly filled. By the time he began the starting sequence for Flight 4 an hour later, the wind had dropped to 4 knots and eventually died away to nothing by the start of the second match. With no breeze, he was forced to abandon the flight.

Around 2:00 p.m. Lauro moved the racecourse to the mouth of the bay to conduct racing. A 5-knot south/southeasterly breeze gusted to 8 knots, but the winds were so shifty that it made for difficult match-racing. A boat two lengths to windward of another would be sailing 20 degrees higher.

Lauro began Flight 4 at 2:30 p.m., but the right side of the racecourse was so heavily favoured that whoever won the committee boat end of the line won the match, as Peter GILMOUR (AUS/Pizza-La Sailing Team), Brady and Radich were able to do.

Radich, who won last week's Garda Trentino Open Match Race at Lake Garda, Italy, beat three-time America's Cup winner Russell COUTTS (NZL/Alinghi Team) in this manner. The third match of the flight, their first beat was nearly a fetch as the wind had veered right up to 50 degrees.

Radich won the boat end and led all the way around the course. On the first leg they tacked once, to lay the windward mark. The second windward mark was moved to account for the wind shift, but there were still 20-degree oscillations. "The start was the key," said Radich. The skewed course infuriated Coutts, now 0-2, who said that it's nearly impossible to run a regatta in between a 500-foot hill and a 1,000-foot mountain range, which line the northern and southern sides of the bay.

With seasoned competitor Jes GRAM-HANSEN of Denmark, ranked at number twelve in the world, calling tactics, Jablonski beat Michael DUNSTAN (AUS/OzBoyz Challenge) and Philippe PRESTI (FRA/le Defi). "We had a bunch of problems," Jablonski said. "We had to replace two jibs because of the luff tape and we also had winch problems."

They also had problems with the race committee work in their final match of the day against Presti. Rounding a leeward mark the race committee changed the course to the next windward mark. The signal boat was out of place, which made it impossible for Jablonski to acknowledge the change. "We couldn't hear the signal or see the change of course flag," Jablonski said. "The onboard umpire couldn't hear or see it either. They (the signal boat) were downwind of us." The Jablonski-Presti match was re-sailed, and Jablonski beat Presti by more than a minute, in his estimation. "We were able to get a penalty on him in the pre-start and then extended away on the course."

While Jablonski's group has completed four flights (12 matches), the other group of six skippers has completed two flights (six matches) in two days.

At 5:30 p.m. teams had managed to race only five matches before a rainstorm forced Cian and Presti to stop the match in progress. Karol JABLONSKI, Toscana Challenge, tops the current standings with four victories and no losses and is followed by a two-way tie for second place between Gavin BRADY and Jesper RADICH. "We're happy with our results and to be leading," said Jablonski after disembarking his boat at 7:55 p.m., concluding a five-hour day and two matches. "The conditions are tough. Not just for us, but the race committee also."

The regatta schedule calls for a 22-flight round robin followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and final. After the first two days only six flights have been completed, putting the schedule in jeopardy and turning tomorrow's scheduled lay day into a race day. Despite looking weary, event organizer Antonio NAPPI maintains a positive attitude. "At this point we still have tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday," Nappi said. "So I'm hopeful we can get all the racing done. We'll review it tomorrow based on the weather."

Tomorrow's forecast is the worst of the week. A series of low pressure systems have been sweeping across the Mediterranean Sea, and tomorrow they're predicted to produce Force 7 to 8 southwesterly winds, between 28 and 40 knots.

Current Standings

Pos. Skipper Team Matches Wins Loss Points
1 Karol JABLONSKI Toscana Challenge 4 4 0 4
2 Magnus HOLMBERG SeaLife Rangers 4 3 1 3
3 Gavin BRADY Oracle BMW Racing 2 2 0 2
3 Jesper RADICH Team Denmark 2 2 0 2
5 Paolo CIAN Italian Challenger 4 2 2 2
6 Bertrand PACE' Team France 2 1 1 1
6 Peter GILMOUR Pizza-La Sailing Team 2 1 1 1
8 Philippe PRESTI Le Defi' 4 1 3 1
8 John CUTLER Mascalzone Latino 4 1 3 1
8 Michael DUNSTAN OzBoyz Challenge 4 1 3 1
11 Ed BAIRD Team Musto 2 0 2 0
11 Russell COUTTS Alinghi Team 2 0 2 0

Event Media / Sean McNeil (As Amended by ISAF)
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