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15 July 2001, 08:18 pm
Holmberg Takes The Title
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Trofeo Challenge Roberto Trombini

Magnus Holmberg and his Team StoraEnso match race crew successfully defended their title against Dean Barker and Team New Zealand at the Swedish Match Tour's Trofeo Challenge Roberto Trombini Match Race in Ravenna, Italy today.
Holmberg, skipper of the Swedish Victory Challenge for the 2003 America's Cup, and a 10-year veteran of the international match race circuit, called on every tactic, trick and maneuver he has picked up along the way to outlast his Kiwi competitors in this classic, see-saw battle.

"It's been really tough all week," said Holmberg. "From the quarterfinals against Russell (Coutts) to the last race today. It's fair to say we were a bit lucky."

Lucky maybe. Sailing extremely well all week against a field of competitors that included representatives from eight other America's Cup syndicates? Definitely.

"It's hard to say what the biggest difference was against Dean today," continued Holmberg. "The last two starts we were able to get to the right side of the course which was favored. Stefan (Rahm), our tactician, did an excellent job all day reading the conditions and pointing us the right way."

Barker put the loss in perspective. "Sailing on the Swedish Match Tour helps us with the racing side of our preparation (for the defense)," said Barker. "After winning the ACI Cup in May we had a shocking result last week (13th at the Swedish Match Cup). We want to do as much match racing as we can and take what we learn back to Auckland."

After winning the first match of the finals, Barker put himself in jeopardy by copping a penalty while rounding the leeward mark (while in the lead) and then picked up a second penalty when he failed to give way on the windward mark rounding. This necessitated an immediate execution of a penalty turn which allowed Holmberg to make up the eight second deficit he was facing at the time and ultimately take control of the race and finish a slim three seconds ahead of the Kiwi crew, putting himself back in the running.

Barker battled back in match three to go one up on the Swedes but Holmberg, demonstrating the same determination and grit which helped him overcome a 2-0 deficit to Russell Coutts of the Alinghi Challenge in the quarterfinals, refused to give up, winning the final two matches to claim the first event on Swedish Match Tour Year 3.

With the win, Holmberg stands in familiar territory atop the Swedish Match Tour leaderboard as he begins his quest to defend his Swedish Match Tour championship.

The petit finals featured a spirited duel between the two US-based America's Cup syndicates represented here this week. Ultimately, two-time Trombini Match Race champion Peter Holmberg of Oracle Racing used his experience and knowledge of the local waters to ouster James Spithill and his young OneWorld crew.

Clear skies on Finals Sunday provided no relief from the high temperatures which have been here all week. On the water, 10-12 knot winds were the norm for the afternoon's racing.

Final Standings

1. Magnus Holmberg (SWE/Team StoraEnso)

2. Dean Barker (Team New Zealand)

3. Peter Holmberg (Oracle Racing)

4. James Spithill (OneWorld Challenge)

5. Russell Coutts (Alinghi Challenge)

6. Nicola Celon (ITA)

7. Morten Henriksen (illbruck Challenge)

8. Paolo Cian (Mascalzone Latino Challenge)

9. Andy Green (GBR Challenge)

10. Francesco de Angelis (Prada Challenge)

11. Luc Pillot (FRA)

12. Frederico Strocchi (ITA)

Finals Results

Barker def. M. Holmberg

M. Holmberg def. Barker

Barker def. M. Holmberg

M. Holmberg def. Barker

M. Holmberg def. Barker

Petit-Finals Results

P. Holmberg def. Spithill

P. Holmberg def. Spithill
Shawn Mc Bride/News Editor
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