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20 October 2001, 01:20 pm
America|s Cup Stars Through to Semis
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Colorcraft Gold Cup

Colorcraft Gold Cup

Despite a tough drawn-out fight, hometown favorite Peter Bromby lost to Magnus Holmberg of Sweden at the Colorcraft Gold Cup today, setting up a Semi-Final Round tomorrow featuring four America’s Cup stars.
Holmberg, the number one-ranked match racer in the world and the skipper of Sweden's Victory Syndicate challenger for the America's Cup will sail against New Zealander Gavin Brady, a helmsman for Italy's Prada America's Cup Challenge. In the other match, Ed Baird from St Petersburg, Florida, the skipper of the Young America challenge at the last America's Cup, will meet Peter Holmberg who sails for the Oracle Racing Challenge out of San Francisco, California.

Bromby, who defeated four-time America's Cup winner Dennis Conner 3-0 in the Championship Round on Wednesday at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, went down fighting to Holmberg today 3-1.5. Bromby staged a dramatic come-from-behind victory in his first race against Holmberg but was docked the half point by on-the-water umpires for a collision on the starting line.

Light and south-easterly winds, seldom over ten knots, resulted in a number of lead changes and kept tacticians guessing at the event, the third on this year's Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour.

Holmberg won his second race against Bromby while the Bermudian won the third. One of the two still needed to win two races and Holmberg clinched the next two to go through to the Semi-Finals.

As Bromby told a packed press conference at the Royal Bermuda Yacht club, his Quarter-Finals match started with a bang. Bromby in the starboard tack right-of-way boat hit Holmberg, then won the race only to later lose half a point for failing to avoid a collision.

The Bermudian trailed his opponent around the windward-leeward course on Hamilton Harbor but made dramatic gains as he closed on the final run to the finish. Side by side, the boats veered away from the finish line as Holmberg tried to shut Bromby out, then they turned and crossed the line with sails flogging, crews shouting and protest flags waving. It took two separate jury hearings between races before Bromby's half-point victory was confirmed.

"I feel we were lucky with the penalty call going in our favor," Bromby said. "I think that same call any other day would have gone against us. At the end of the day, Magnus did a great job to beat us. I made some mistakes out there today that I should not have made, and Magnus made me pay for it. He deserved to win and I hope he goes all the way."

Holmberg, a three-time Swedish Olympic sailor, first raced in the Gold Cup in Bermuda in 1991 and has competed here five times since then. He won the second year of the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour and is the championship leader with a 30-point lead for the third year after winning the first two events earlier this year.

"Peter and his team always sail their boat very fast," Holmberg said. "They sail well tactically and we had quite a lot of good duels, with a lot of things happening. We also spent a lot of time on the committee boat . . . and I appreciate the honesty of Peter who was telling me that he thought I was right in that situation. It doesn't happen that often. It has been great sailing against a guy who is that sportsmanlike."

Brady went through to the final four after a drawn-out, five race, 3-2 victory over German Morten Henriksen, match race skipper and coach for the illbruck Challenge for the America's Cup. "We were battling it out pretty well and leading 2-1 before the lunch break and we didn't manage to do anything after the break," Henriksen said. "However we had a lot of chances - in race number four we were ahead a few times but Gavin and his guys just kept coming back and we found it hard to keep them behind us."

Brady was gracious in victory. "It could have gone either way," he said. "We were sailing very well downwind today."

Billed as the confrontation between the two competing American challengers for the America's Cup, Peter Holmberg's Oracle Racing team, which included syndicate skipper Paul Cayard sailing on the bow and calling tactics, trounced Ken Read, skipper for the Stars & Stripes syndicate 3-0.

"Today was obviously a little disappointing," Read said. "We knew we were up against a great group and couldn't make mistakes. We managed to get the umpires involved in every race and unfortunately we came out on the wrong side of the stick there. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We've got to work a bit harder at this, that's all."

Baird defeated young Danish skipper Jes Gram-Hansen in a match that went 3-0 to become the fourth Quarter-Finalist.

Results:

Flight 1

Peter Bromby def. Magnus Holmberg"

Morten Henriksen def. Gavin Brady

Ed Baird def. Jes Gram-Hansen

Peter Holmberg def. Ken Read

"Bromby penalized 1/2 point for failing to avoid collision

Flight 2

Magnus Holmberg def. Peter Bromby

Gavin Brady def. Morten Henriksen

Ed Baird def. Jes Gram-Hansen

Peter Holmberg def. Ken Read

Flight 3

Peter Bromby def. Magnus Holmberg

Morten Henriksen def. Gavin Brady

Ed Baird def. Jes Gram-Hansen

Peter Holmberg def. Ken Read

Flight 4

Magnus Holmberg def. Peter Bromby

Gavin Brady def. Morten Henriksen

Flight 5

Magnus Holmberg def. Peter Bromby
Keith Taylor/News Editor
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