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1 December 2005, 09:20 am
HOLMBERG On Top In Malaysia
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Monsoon Cup 2005
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) has leap-frogged Peter GILMOUR (AUS) into the top spot of the ISAF Grade 1 Monsoon Cup in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia today. However with both GILMOUR and Chris DICKSON (NZL) holding matches in hand against the leader, the jostling at the front looks set to continue.
Progress has ground to a halt at the Monsoon Cup today as the northwesterly wind has died away to three knots or less. Flight 13 was completed, and then the race committee sent the competitors to shore to wait for the wind to fill. HOLMBERG overtook number two in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, GILMOUR to take the lead after he defeated Francesco BRUNI (ITA) in the flight to move to 7-2, whilst GILMOUR had a bye and remains at 6-2. BMW Oracle Racing's (USA) DICKSON remains at 5-2 after a bye, but fellow Kiwi Dean BARKER moved up to fourth with a win over ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Sally BARKOW (USA), that improved his record to 6-3.

Staffan LINDBERG (FIN) defeated Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) to improve to 5-3 and holds fifth place. WILLIAMS is sixth at 5-4. Russell COUTTS (NZL) remained in seventh at 4-4 after another bye, and Bjorn HANSEN (SWE) holds onto eighth at 3-5. HANSEN, however, gained a bit of breathing room on BRUNI in the fight for the eighth and final quarter final spot, as the Italian's loss to HOLMBERG dropped him to 3-6, one loss behind and a tiebreaker down on HANSEN.

Thierry PEPONNET (FRA) is tenth at 3-6, Cameron DUNN (NZL) eleventh at 2-7, and Sally BARKOW twelfth at 1-6.

The heavyweights had mixed it up earlier in the morning with some won-loss records taking a beating.

Overnight co-leaders DICKSON and LINDBERG both suffered losses in this morning's racing to fall from the top. DICKSON beat BARKER but then lost to HANSEN, whilst LINDBERG went down to both GILMOUR and BARKOW, whose 43 second win was her first of the event.

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Russell COUTTS and Dean BARKER
engage in a port-starboard crossing
during their match, won by BARKER by
three seconds
© Guido Cantini/Swedish Match Tour
Earlier in the day COUTTS's inconsistent form had continued as he first beat GILMOUR, but then lost to his former protégée BARKER.

Coming into the racing this morning the leaderboard was at near logjam with a host of sailors battling for the top spot. So far the 50th event of the Swedish Match Tour is offering great racing, and the regatta is not even out of the round robin stage yet.

'Today [yesterday] was a thoroughly enjoyable day of racing,' said Tour director Scott MACLEOD. 'There was everything to like; lead changes, penalties and the sultan racing.'

The Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal ABIDIN, sailed two races with GILMOUR, winning against PEPONNET and losing against BARKER.

'He's a charming man,' said GILMOUR. 'He realized it's a sporting situation and said to sail the boat as we have to. I think he finds peace on the water. He asked to do another race after the first one. He's enthused by sailing. I think we have a sailor on our hands.'

The sultan was treated to some classic 'crash' GILMOUR racing in their match against PEPONNET. The Frenchman who is skipper of the French K-Challenge syndicate got an early lead on the reigning two-time Tour champion by playing the left side of the first leg.

GILMOUR, however, held starboard tack approaching the windward mark. PEPONNET seemed to be just crossing, but GILMOUR hunted him down as they converged. GILMOUR clipped PEPONNET's transom, which pushed the bow of the port-tack boat down and into the windward mark. The umpires issued three penalties, two to GILMOUR.

'We gave a penalty to GILMOUR for breaking Rule 16, a right-of-way boat altering course,' said Chief Umpire John STANDLEY, who umpired the match. 'We also gave a penalty to PEPONNET for hitting the mark. But GILMOUR gained an advantage so we gave him a second penalty. It was fairly straightforward.'

GILMOUR stretched enough of a lead over the next lap and a half to perform his penalty turn on the finish line and win. But afterwards apologies were flying on his boat.

'I apologized to the sultan,' GILMOUR said, 'but he said don't worry, it was the most fun of the race.'

The GILMOUR-PEPONNET match was not the only with contact yesterday. WILLIAMS and DICKSON rubbed gunwales, while COUTTS and PEPONNET also got up close and personal. So far in the event the umpires have had 48 requests for calls from competitors and 24 penalties have been issued. 'That's a high proportion,' said STANDLEY. 'It shows the sailors aren't putting up questionable Y flags.'

Just four of the 17 round robin scheduled flights remain to been completed. After the round robin the top eight advance to the quarter finals while the bottom four are eliminated.

Monsoon Cup Standings
(After 13 of 17 flights)

1. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), Victory Challenge, 7-2
2. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), PST, 6-2
3. Chris DICKSON (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing, 5-2
4. Dean BARKER (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 6-3
5. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team, 5-3
6. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Williams Racing Team, 5-4
7. Russell COUTTS (NZL), Coutts Racing Team, 4-4
8. Björn HANSEN (SWE), Team Apport.Net, 3-5
9. Francesco BRUNI (ITA), Luna Rossa Challenge, 3-6
10. Thierry PEPONNET (FRA), K-Challenge, 3-6
11. Cameron DUNN (NZL), Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team, 2-7
12. Sally BARKOW (USA), Team 7, 1-6

For a complete list of all the news about the Monsoon Cup CLICK HERE.

Sean McNeill (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Peter GILMOUR's PST crew rounds the windward mark:© Guido Cantini/Swedish Match Tour
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