Russell Coutts of the Alinghi Challenge for the America's Cup has won the Swedish Match Cup. Denmark's Dorte O Jensen took the womens title at the eighth and final event of Swedish Match Tour Year 2 in Marstrand, Sweden.
The victory was especially trying for the Coutts as he battled food poisoning and dehydration over the last two days of the regatta. In spite of his ailments however, Coutts, the only man to win an Olympic Gold Medal and the America's Cup, as well as the author of a book on match racing tactics, left no doubt to those lining the Kvornberget cliffs of Marstrand, that he is a master match racer.
After dropping the first match in the first-to-three-wins final, Coutts survived a penalty in a tight second match to even the score with Pillot at one all. Coutts then sailed clear of Pillot in cleanly winning the finals' third and fourth matches. This is Coutts' second win on the Swedish Match Tour. He previously won the Colorcraft Gold Cup in Bermuda last October.
The day began with the largest of disappointments as Sweden's Magnus Holmberg and his Team Stora Enso crew squandered the 2-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinals they had established on Saturday. Holmberg was swept three matches to zero by his French opponent and saw his goal of winning the regatta he helped create, while working for the Royal Gothenberg Yacht Club, fall short.
Joining Holmberg on the sideline was his fellow countryman Bjorn Hansen who lost the third straight, and final, match of his semifinal tilt to Coutts. Holmberg was able to regain a small measure of satisfaction in the all-Swedish petit finals however by defeating Hansen, representing the Royal Stockholm Yacht Club, 2- 0 to finish third.
A five-to-eight knot easterly wind battled the seabreeze all day providing fuel for these competitors' engines. Afternoon clouds offered welcome relief from the intense heat and humidity which marked the final days of the regatta.
Denmark's Dorte O. Jensen has done it again, winning the Swedish Match Women's Trophy for the third time running. She dropped the first match to local skipper Malin Källström in light winds, and then Dorte went on to secure the victory with three straight wins:
"Meeting Källström is always tough, and this time was no exception - we had to fight every inch of the way. We've sparred against each other a lot, and that stood us in good stead." Jensen says, bursting with joy.
"Dorte knows our weaknesses, but we've had a hard time finding hers. In lighter winds we might have pulled it off, but as the wind picked up during the day we had more and more trouble keeping up with her." Källström says.
"Right now we're mostly disappointed we didn't win, but once we put things in perspective we'll probably be very satisfied with our sailing throughout the week." Källström concludes.
In the best-of-three matches for third place Sharon Ferris, New Zealand, won the first match against Malin Millbourn, Sweden. The Swede then bagged the bronze-medal by winning the next two matches. Things were more dramatic than they might seem, though. In the second match Millbourn's bowman Ingela Ottfalk accidentally cut her leg when she had to cut the spinnaker halyard because of a spinnaker override. The girls managed to finish the match, but then Ottfalk was rushed to event physician Per Gustavsson, who closed the wound using eight stitches. Marie Björling's bowman, Annika Carlunger, took Ottfalk's place in the last match, which worked well:
We're a close-knit crew, so of course having somebody new on board feels a bit strange, Millbourn says. But things worked out nicely, and we can look back at a terrific performance in this regatta - even in our wildest dreams we didn't dare hope we'd finish third!
FINAL SWEDISH MATCH CUP STANDINGS Men
1. Russell Coutts (Alinghi Challenge)
2. Luc Pillot (FRA)
3. Magnus Holmberg (SWE/Team Stora Enso)
4. Bjorn Hansen (SWE)
5. Gavin Brady (Prada Challenge)
6. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN/Team Marienlyst)
7. Jochen Schuemann (Alinghi Challenge)
8. Andy Green (GBR Challenge)
9. Jesper Bank (Victory Challenge)
10. Jesper Radich (DEN/Team Steff Houlberg)
11. Peter Gilmour (OneWorld Challenge)
12. Johnie Berndtsson (SWE)
13. Dean Barker (Team New Zealand)
14. James Spithill (OneWorld Challenge)
15.Chris Dickson (Oracle Racing)
16. Bertrand Pace (Team New Zealand)
1. Dorte O. Jensen, (DEN)
2. Malin Källström, (SWE)
3. Malin Millbourn, (SWE)
4. Sharon Ferris, (NZL)
5. Klaartje Zuiderbaan, (NED)
6. Betsy Alison, (USA)
7. Marie Björling, (SWE)
8. Nadine Stegenwalner, (GER)