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26 March 2004, 10:20 am
Top Match Racers Accept Invitations
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Swedish Match Cup
Marstrand

With 100 days left until the regatta opens on the 5th of July, Peter KLOCK, project manager of the Swedish Match Cup, has already managed to put together a line-up at least as impressive as any from the previous 10 years in Marstrand.
The world elite are turning out for the event that has set the standard for many of the other regattas on the world wide ISAF Grade 1 Match Racing tour, and they are coming to the Swedish west coast to fight for just over 100.000 euro in prize-money. "We can't be other than happy when our invitations are accepted by return post," Peter KLOCK laughs, revealing that some of the top sailors even approach him beforehand, to try to talk him into giving them an invitation.

To avoid accusations of being arbitrary, Klock has invited the top six helmsmen on the Swedish Match Tour before the winter intermission, and an equal number from the top of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings. Five times winner in Marstrand, Peter GILMOUR (USA) and his Japanese Pizza-La Sailing Team accepted straight away. So did home sailor Magnus HOLMBERG and his fellow/rival helmsman from the Victory Challenge, Denmark's Jesper BANK. New Zealander Gavin BRADY from the Oracle BMW Racing syndicate, Frenchman Luc PILLOT and last year's runner up in Marstrand and cerrent number 1 on the ISAF World Rankings, Karol JABLONSKI from Poland, have also accepted. The ever-popular American, reigning ISAF World Match Race Champion Ed BAIR, is coming with his Team Musto. Swedish Björn HANSEN from KSSS in Stockholm, number eight on the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, is also coming, along with Staffan LINDBERG from Åland and Italian ace helmsman Paolo CIAN. Kiwi America's Cup finalist Dean BARKER was this week the last one to say yes.

The America's Cup winners from Swiss Team Alinghi will also be represented in Marstrand. First and foremost by figurehead and three-time America's Cup winner Russell COUTTS, but also by new acquisition Peter HOLMBERG from the US Virgin Islands. "As a matter of fact, neither of them is ranked high enough on any list, but since we really wanted to see these colourful yachtsmen in the regatta, they were granted wild cards," Peter KLOCK explains. Last year's winner of the Swedish Match Cup, British veteran Chris LAW, is another helmsman who is not ranked high enough to receive an ordinary invitation. Needless to say, he was also granted a wild card and will be in Marstrand from 5-11 July to defend his title. As the mathematically gifted has realised, a few places remain to be filled in order to reach the stipulated 16 competitors. Who the final entries are will be determined in June, with a qualifier regatta in Swedish town Malmö to select the last two crews, one of them Swedish.

In the ladies' line-up, last year's winner Marie BJÖRLING, from organising club GKSS, makes her comeback from maternity leave this spring, and has promised to come to Marstrand to defend her title. Her leave of absence has not been able to budge her from her position as number one in the ISAF Women's Match Race Rankings this far. Reigning World Champion Malin MILLBOURN from KSSS in Stockholm has regretfully had to decline her invitation. With her crew scattered in four different cities, each with demanding full-time jobs, they are no longer able to find a schedule that works. "Of course it's very disappointing, but we haven't thrown in the towel for good yet. When we're sailing we do it to win, and right now we can't achieve the practical arrangements necessary to succeed," Malin sighs. Seasoned Danes Lotte MELDGAARD and Nina BRAESTRUP have accepted, however, and will be joined by home sailor Malin KÄLLSTRÖM. Frenchwoman Claire LEROY and Italian Sabrina GURIOLI are there to make sure the Swedish Match Cup women's class does not turn into a Nordic Championship. American Betsy ALISON has also been invited, but has still to reply.

Further details on the event are available on the event website at the address below.
Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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