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25 May 2005, 09:27 am
PACÉ Marches On
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ACI H1 Match Race Cup 2005
Split, Croatia

Last year's winner, Bertrand PACÉ (FRA), of BMW Oracle Racing (USA), continued his form of yesterday to make a clean sweep of the field in the ISAF Grade 1 ACI H1 Match Race Cup in Split, Croatia.
He completed a perfect 10-0 scoreline with a victory over Kelvin HARRAP (NZL), of Emirates Team New Zealand, in flight eleven. HARRAP finished second at 7-3, the same score as Ed BAIRD (USA), of Team Alinghi (SUI). Victory for the Kiwi in his flight with BAIRD yesterday broke the tiebreak to his advantage.

Peter GILMOUR (AUS) had a shaky start to the day and at one point was 3-4 with three tricky matches to come against Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), Philippe PRESTI (FRA) and finally, BAIRD. However the Australian found the form that saw him win the recent ISAF Grade 1 Match Race Germany to take all three flights and end the day in fourth overall. Also on 6-4 is PRESTI, with GILMOUR owning the tiebreaker thanks to his win in their head-to-head. After a mixed day Finland's Staffan LINDBERG lies sixth on 5-5. Behind him home sailor Dario KLIBA (CRO) has continued to impress with victories in his last two flights leaving him 4-6 and seventh overall.

The top four skippers at the end of the second round robin, which is scheduled to begin this afternoon, will advance to the semi finals.

The northeasterly wind is still cranking, blowing steadily around 20 knots. The crews have been using the small, non-overlapping jibs and alternating between a reefed mainsail and no reef.

(After 11 of 22 scheduled flights)

1. Bertrand PACE (FRA), BMW Oracle Racing (USA), 10-0
2. Kelvin HARRAP (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 7-3
3. Ed BAIRD (USA), Team Alinghi (SUI), 7-3
4. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS), 6-4
5. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), le Défi (FRA), 6-4
6. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), 5-5
7. Dario KLIBA (CRO), 4-6
8. Flavio FAVINI (ITA) Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), 3-7
9. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), 3-7
10. Ian AINSLIE (RSA) Team Shosholoza (RSA), 2-8
11. Björn HANSEN (SWE), 2-8

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The controversial match
between PACÉ (background)
© Guido Cantini/
Light and patchy winds yesterday morning forced the race committee to postpone until 1300 hours local time. The wind filled in with earnest as the clock passed 1500, and the action also heated up as six flights and 30 matches were completed.

With the northeasterly gusting up to 18 knots, there were penalty flags flying and crews falling overboard. The small, non-overlapping jibs were used in the final two flights. Seventeen penalties were issued on the day, versus 16 green flags (indicating no penalty), and Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS) bowman Kazuhiko SOFUKU was nearly dragged around the leeward mark in one race.

Frenchman PACÉ of the BMW Oracle Racing Team (USA), the event's reigning champion, used a little luck to rise above the fray and post a perfect 6-0 record at the end of day one of this the 19th annual regatta.

Another Frenchman and another former winner here, PRESTI, lies second with a 4-1 mark. He is marginally ahead of New Zealander HARRAP, of Emirates Team New Zealand, who finished the day at 4-2.

Numbers one and two in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, BAIRD, of Team Alinghi (SUI), and GILMOUR, of Pizza-La Sailing Team, are tied for fourth at 3-2. The top two skippers in the Rankings and both already winners of an ISAF Grade 1 Match Racing event this year disembarked their boats scratching their heads.

BAIRD said everyone got the best of them. GILMOUR called his day a dog.

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Day one in Split saw plenty of
close racing and the favourites
© Event Media
PACÉ may have played his luck cards for the week. Leading his match against GILMOUR he was penalized approaching the leeward mark when he jibed too close in front of the Australian.

GILMOUR headed up hard to avoid hitting PACÉ and lost his bowman SOFUKU over the side. A crewmember could be heard yelling, 'Get him aboard! Get him aboard!' while GILMOUR could be seen pointing at SOFUKU, who trailed along hanging on to a spinnaker sheet.

With SOFUKU scrambling back aboard the Pizza-La crew trailed PACÉ around the leeward mark and then tacked to port, but trimmer Mike MOTTL was on the bow retrieving the spinnaker due to SOFUKU's absence and the jib was slow to be trimmed.

That helped PACÉ extend his marginal lead, which would stretch to 20 seconds at the second windward mark. It was enough time for PACÉ to pull off the penalty on the finish line and win. After the race GILMOUR said that PACÉ admitted to hitting the windward mark, but the umpires failed to see it and he was not penalized. This morning PACÉ vehemently denied GILMOUR's accusation.

One of the highlights of the day was local representative KLIBA. The Croat, 25 years old, posted a 2-4 record in his first Swedish Match Tour event, which included wins over GILMOUR and LINDBERG. Near misses came against BAIRD, to whom he lost by just nine seconds, and PRESTI, both of whom he led at the first windward mark.

'We're very satisfied with today,' said KLIBA, 130 in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, whose crew includes Kostiè HRVOJE, Zvonko JELAÈIÆ, Prlenda NIKOLA and Celiæ SLAVEN.

'One year ago we were watching these guys on TV, now we're sailing against them. We're not afraid, but it's hard to get off our mind that it's GILMOUR or BAIRD on the other end of the starting line,' KLIBA said.

KLIBA's personal highlight came when he beat GILMOUR. KLIBA led around the first windward mark, but GILMOUR used a boat sailing upwind as a pick. He jibed to starboard and gained the lead.

KLIBA trailed by less than one boatlength at the second windward mark. Two-thirds of the way down the run to the finish they both jibed to port. GILMOUR, to leeward, luffed KLIBA and was penalized.

GILMOUR attempted to unload the penalty, but there was not enough racecourse to work with, and KLIBA scored the huge victory in just his sixth ISAF Graded match race regatta.

'We need to work on our fitness,' said KLIBA. 'We were exhausted in the last match. But we're very satisfied.'

The weather forecast for today is strong northern wind thus the sailors will set off for the regatta field early in the morning. If the weather forecast if correct then there is a possibility that the first round robin can be finished today.

(After 6 of 22 scheduled flights)

1. Bertrand PACE (FRA), BMW Oracle Racing (USA), 6-0
2. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), le Défi (FRA), 4-1
3. Kelvin HARRAP (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 4-2
4. Ed BAIRD (USA), Team Alinghi (SUI), 3-2
4. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS), 3-2
4. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), 3-2
7. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), 2-3
8. Dario KLIBA (CRO), 2-4
9. Björn HANSEN (SWE), 1-4
10. Ian AINSLIE (RSA) Team Shosholoza (RSA), 1-5
10. Flavio FAVINI (ITA) Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), 1-5

Sean McNeill (As Amended By ISAF). Image, SOFUKA taking a dip in GILMOUR's match with runaway leader PACÉ:© Guido Cantini/
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