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7 March 2005, 10:43 am
Victory For Finland
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JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge
Sunbury, Great Britain

After seven qualifying weekends, the ISAF Grade 2 JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge came to a close over the weekend of the 4-6 March with a win for Staffan LINDBERG of Finland who is number 12 on the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.
Ten teams competed in the final weekend with four from Great Britain and six foreign teams representing America, Denmark, Finland, France, Switzerland.

The first two days of the event saw all of the teams competing in cold conditions to complete a round robin series and determine who would go through and sail the semi-finals for a chance to win the inaugural JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge Cup. By the end of play on Saturday Staffan LINDBERG, with his team of Martin KRITE, Daniel WALLBERG and Nils BJERKAS representing Finland, led the round robin with an impressive nine race wins in as many races. British sailor Ian WILLIAMS, crewed by brother Mark, Mark NICHOLLS and Olympic Star sailor Steve MITCHELL, was the highest ranked sailor at the event and had the second best qualifying round, only losing one race to the Finnish team. Coming through the round robin in third place was fellow British sailor Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES, followed by Olympic Yngling bronze medallist Dorte JENSEN of Denmark.

Finishing the round robin unbeaten gave Lindberg the advantage of choosing his opponent for the Semi-Finals. Lindberg chose to race Jensen, which left the second Semi-Final line-up as a British affair with Campbell-James versus Williams.

After such close matches in the round robin, the final day saw a regular pattern occur and everyone who won their rounds won in straight matches, although the umpires were kept busy awarding numerous penalties. Lindberg beat Jensen three nil in a best of five final, and Williams repeated this pattern to take three straight wins from Campbell-James.

Lindberg had beaten Williams in the round robin and everything was set for the two highest ranked sailors to battle it out for the silverware. In 12 knots of breeze, Lindberg put in a convincing performance in the first race to take the first win of the Final. Williams came back determined in the second race, closing the gap all the time but it was not enough to prevent Lindberg taking another win from Williams. With a best of five races Final, Williams would have to pull something out of the bag to prevent Lindberg from winning the event. Unfortunately it was not to be and Lindberg led the third and final race from the start, loosely covering Williams to cross the finish line in front and win the final race of the Winter Challenge and win the JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge Cup.

Lindberg commented on the weekend: 'We are really pleased to have won all our races this weekend but it was definitely not as easy as it looked. We were lucky that everything went our way and we had all but one good starts and sailed well on our upwind legs. Our Semi-Final was actually closer than the Final but the standard of racing was really high and we could not afford to make any mistakes.'

Jensen and Campbell-James had to battle it out for third and fourth and this time it was Campbell-James that had the upper hand in the best of three series. Campbell-James led both races from start to finish, beating Jensen and leaving the JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge in a respectable third place.

In the fifth and sixth play-off, Mason WOODWORTH of America convincingly beat Eric MONNIN of Switzerland to finish the Final weekend fifth overall leaving the Swiss sailor to take sixth.

Over 200 sailors have taken part in the inaugural JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge, which has consisted of seven qualifying weekends which commenced in November 2004 and culminated in this the Final weekend in March 2005. A total of 24 British teams have taken part in the event along with 20 foreign teams representing Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA. The event has attracted a wide selection of sailors ranging from those in the top ten of the ISAF World Match Race Ranking to Olympic medallists, including gold medallists Iain PERCY and Sarah AYTON and bronze medallist Dorte JENSEN.

Louise PENDLETON, Head of Brand and Communications at JPMorgan Fleming commented on the event: 'We are delighted with the response to the Winter Challenge. It has made a real impact on the sailing calendar so quickly, having reached grade two status in its first series. The RYA did a fantastic job of pulling the event together.'

Final Results

Pos Skipper ISAF Ranking Crew Nation
1 Staffan LINDBERG 12 Martin KRITE, Daniel WALLBERG, Nils BJERKAS FIN
2 Ian WILLIAMS 7 Steve MITCHELL, Mark WILLIAMS, Mark NICHOLLS GBR
3 Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES 28 David MASON, Andy CLARKE, Andrew YATES GBR
4 Dorte JENSEN Niels GRAMKOV, Jeppe BLAK, Hening LAMBERTHSEN DEN
5 Mason WOODWORTH 84 Justin BIDDLE, Andy OLIVER, Dave LENZ/David BROWN USA
6 Eric MONNIN 30 Jean-Claude MONNIN, Alain MERCHAND, Marc MONNIN, Dominique VALITON SUI
7 Peter WIBROE 35 Phillip GUHLE, Jeppe RASMUSSEN, Kristoffer OLESEN DEN
8 Simon SHAW 99 Duncan MACDONALD, Alec FRASER, Ashley CURTIS GBR
9 Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES 32 Nick HUTTON, Ed PEEL, Graham SUNDERLAND GBR
10 Claire LEROY 178 (open)
2 (women's)
Ingrid CERRATO, Morgane GAUTIER, Julie GERECHT, Ellen BRIAND FRA
JPMorgan Fleming Media (As Amended by ISAF), Image: © Event Media
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