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6 May 2005, 09:55 am
Day Two
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Toscana Elba Cup 2005
Porto Azzuro, Elba Island, Italy

Day 2 of the ISAF Grade 1 Toscana Elba Cup-Trofeo Locman produced an array of thrills and spills and there were as many as six come-from-behind victories in the 22 matches on the day. Two of them came on the finish line in the final flight of Group A's round robin, and affected the final standings in the group.
Three times crews pulled off a penalty turn on the finish line, completing their 270-degree turn and clearing the line before their competitor could overtake. After the Group A and B round robins were completed, there were seven ties broken (four in Group A, three in Group B) to determine who advanced to the quarters and who advanced to the sudden-death repechage round.

The day ended with the repechage round halfway completed. A repechage round, borrowed from rowing, gives teams a chance to race another day. That honour went to Ian AINSLIE (RSA), of Team Shosholoza, Francesco De ANGELIS (ITA), of Luna Rossa Challenge, Russell COUTTS (NZL), of Coutts Racing, and Hamish PEPPER (NZL), of Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team. Each won their first knockout match, and will have to survive another tomorrow morning (Friday) if they hope to advance to the quarterfinals.

Those victories followed the round robins for Group A and B being completed by mid-afternoon. The top three crews in each group advanced directly to the quarterfinals, and will be joined by the two winners from the repechage round.

The wind made a welcomed appearance with a light east/southeasterly dominating the final three flights of Group B's round robin in the morning. As the final match was finishing, the wind shifted around to the northwest, the Mistral direction, and promptly increased in strength to 15 knots, with gusts up to 18 knots. The gusts started reaching 20 knots later in the day, and forced the race committee to order the use of the smaller, 100-percent jibs on the Swedish Match 40s in place of the larger, overlapping genoas.

There were also big oscillations in the breeze as the puffs rolled off the mountains at the western end of the bay. No lead was safe, and when it changed it changed quickly.

Some of the best action of the day came in the four matches of the sudden-death repechage round. Ben AINSLIE (GBR), of Emirates Team New Zealand, faced Ian AINSLIE, while De Angelis raced Thierry PEPONNET (FRA), of K-Challenge, both in the top half of the ladder. In the bottom half, Coutts raced Peter HOLMBERG (ISV), of Team Alinghi, while Pepper faced Karol JABLONSKI (POL), of Desafio Español.
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Pepper won his match after Jablonski was penalized at the first windward mark when he tried to round inside of Pepper. After the match Pepper was at a loss to explain what had happened. As he walked towards the umpires' office to confer about the incident, he said that he thought he might've been in the wrong.

Coutts, the former skipper of Team Alinghi who led his team to victory in the 2003 America's Cup, won his match against Holmberg, a helmsman for the America's Cup-winning team, despite having to clear a penalty on the finish line. Coutts earned the penalty approaching the leeward mark while trailing Holmberg.

Despite being penalized he rounded the leeward mark close to Holmberg and then gained the lead in the following moments. On port tack, he crossed Holmberg's bow in a lifting puff. Once across, he got to the right side where, on starboard tack, he found another lifting puff. That allowed him to extend to an insurmountable lead, despite a bad spinnaker set and the penalty turn.

In the match of the Ainslies, who have no relation to each other, Ian beat Ben when the Brit started too early. Ben AINSLIE protested the race committee after the loss, saying that the timing between the start flag and the sound signal wasn't in sync. But he also admitted it's his responsibility to start properly.

Perhaps the only straightforward match was that between de Angelis and Peponnet, but even then de Angelis overtook Peponnet on the first beat in a manner similar to the way Coutts passed Holmberg. De Angelis then held on to the finish to race another day.

Friday morning's repechage matches pit Ian AINSLIE against de Angelis and Coutts against Pepper. Ben AINSLIE, Peponnet, Holmberg and Jablonski have been eliminated from competition.

The winner of the Ainslie-de Angelis match advances to the bottom half of the ladder where he'll face Peter GILMOUR (AUS), who won the Group B round robin with a 5-1 record. Gilmour won his group after completing penalty turns at the finish line in two of his three final matches.

The other half of that bracket pits Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), second in Group A with a 4-2 mark, against Iain Percy (GBR), who finished third in Group B at 3-3.

The winner of the Coutts-Pepper match advances to the top half of the quarterfinal ladder to face Ed BAIRD (USA), who won Group A at 4-2. James SPITHILL (AUS), third in Group A with a 4-2 record, races Gavin BRADY (NZL), second in Group B at 4-2, in the other half of the bracket.

With the Mistral predicted to last up to three days, the action should continue to be rough and tumble.
Sean McNeil (As Amended by ISAF), Images: Round Robin action © Event Media
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