Denmark's Jesper BANK, the skipper of Germany's first-ever America's Cup challenge United Internet Team Germany, streaked to a 3-0 lead in Group A. His biggest win came against American Ed BAIRD, helmsman for America's Cup Defenders, Team Alinghi (SUI) and number one in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.
With the race started BANK took the left side of the racecourse and BAIRD the right. When they tacked to converge in the centre of the racecourse it looked as if BAIRD might have good position on starboard tack, but then BANK found a puff that allowed him to sail a higher course and he easily crossed BAIRD. Although BAIRD kept the match close, he could not overcome the early deficit.
WILLIAMS, 28, has taken a sabbatical from his job as a lawyer to campaign actively on the Match Racing circuit. He wants to find out if there is a future for him in professional sailing, be it in the America's Cup or another arena.
Today he learned a lesson about boat setup in his final match against Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), who is placed seventh on the Tour leaderboard.
'He was a little faster because he was pressing a bit more on the jib,' said WILLIAMS. 'He was trimming harder and sailing lower, pressing down on the jib more. There are fine differences at this level.'
After shifting around to the north/northeast, the wind strength increased in the afternoon and seemed to catch some competitors off guard. In the match between Bertrand PACÉ (FRA), of the BMW Oracle Racing Team (SUI), and Sten MOHR (DEN), MOHR broached in a puff that rolled down the course when he tried to get to windward of PACÉ.
'We didn't want to get pinned to leeward so we came up just a little bit,' said MOHR. His maneuver happened to coincide with the puff, and he rounded up.
'When the puff hit I was sitting on the afterguy and it lifted me straight up in the air about six feet off the deck,' said PACÉ's crewmember Eric DOYLE (USA). 'When the kite blew out I dropped back down to the deck.'
PACÉ did not lose control because most of his spinnaker was torn. The black and white sail tore near one of the clews while being hoisted and eventually split when the puff hit. PACÉ held on to win the race despite the bottom half of the sail flapping in the wind.
In the last flight for Group B, two time Olympic gold medallist, Ben AINSLIE (GBR), of Emirates Team New Zealand, withdrew a protest he filed over a drifting leeward mark. He withdrew it because, according to Chief Umpire John STANDLEY, the race committee acted appropriately.
'The rules call for the race committee to replace the mark with a boat flying code flag M, which they did promptly,' STANDLEY said. 'It didn't have a significant impact on the outcome of the match.'
Aside from the protest, Ben AINSLIE had a good first day, defeating both PACÉ and ISAF World Match Race Rankings' number four Mathieu RICHARD. Halting his success was Rankings' number two, and recent runner up in the ISAF Grade 1 Toscana Elba Cup, Peter GILMOUR (AUS), who is one of four sailors tied at the top of Group B with a 2-1 record.
Round Robin Standings
Group A (After 3/5 Flights)
Group B (After 3/5 Flights)