Once again hundreds of sailing fans crowded the piers and beaches in Porto Azzurro Elba Island, Italy to witness the spectacular final racing day. Also present for the occasion were Vincenzo ONORATO, patron of Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), and Patrizio BERTELLI, Head of the Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA) syndicate.
Team Russell Coutts (NZL) featured Denmark's Michael ARNHILD (bow), Jes GRAM-HANSEN (tactics), Christian KAMP (headsails) and Rasmus KOSTNER (mainsail). They finished the match-race regatta with a 13-8 record.
GILMOUR's multi-national team included New Zealander Rod DAWSON (mainsail and tactics), Australian Mike MOTTL (headsails), and Kazuhiko SOFUKU (bow) and Yasuhiro YAJI (cockpit) of Japan. They finished the event with a 12-5 record.
Yesterday saw the conclusion of the fourth edition of the Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman. With ISAF World Match Race Rankings' number one, Ed BAIRD (USA) knocked out by COUTTS in the quarter final, GILMOUR and SPITHILL, numbers two and three in the Rankings, had the perfect opportunity to gain ground on their American rival.
|Toscanb Elba Cup winners,
Team Russell Coutts
© Event Media
'When I woke up today I knew the starts were going to be vital,' COUTTS said. 'There was more wind out the bay, and the lead boat had a tremendous advantage. He judged the starts excellently in the first two races, and in the last two races I had nice position and good speed.'
The final started on Saturday afternoon with COUTTS rallying from behind to take a 1-0 lead. GILMOUR led around the first lap and tacked to port cover COUTTS coming out of the leeward mark, but with the wind dying from windward COUTTS sailed around the outside of GILMOUR and on to the win.
The series resumed yesterday morning with an 18-knot southeasterly and a two to three foot swell running down the Bay of Porto Azzurro. GILMOUR started to the right of COUTTS in flights two and three to score big wins. COUTTS returned the favor in flight four to even the score and set up the winner-take-all final race.
Entering the pre-start with the starboard-tack advantage, GILMOUR felt he let an opportunity get away in the final flight. After the two entered the start box, GILMOUR dialed COUTTS into a luffing match.
'I should've waited a bit longer in that pre-start, I should've been more patient,' GILMOUR said. 'If I'd waited a bit longer I could've just hardened up on port and cleared the start line.'
COUTTS disagreed: 'They allowed us to do that pre-start,' said the New Zealander. 'He should've bailed with two minutes or a minute and a half to go. Once he sat there that long we had control.'
They had control, and the series followed. COUTTS also beat GILMOUR in last year's final, 2-1. Similar to last year, COUTTS sailed the maximum number of races possible in the event, 21. After placing fourth in the six-race round robin, he won two races in the repechage round to advance to the quarterfinals.
'Well, it wasn't the same as last year,' COUTTS noted. 'We didn't win a race in the first three days last year.'
|1||NZL||Russell COUTTS||Team Russell Coutts (NZL)|
|2||AUS||Peter GILMOUR||Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS)|
|3||AUS||James SPITHILL||Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA)|
|4||SWE||Magnus HOLMBERG||Victory Challenge (SWE)|
|5||USA||Ed BAIRD||Alinghi Team (SUI)|
|6||RSA||Iain PERCY||+39 Challenge (ITA)|
|7||NZL||Gavin Brady||BMW Oracle Racing (USA)|
|8||GBR||Ian AINSLIE||Team Shosholoza (RSA)|
|9||ITA||Francesco DE ANGELIS||Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA)|
|10||NZL||Hamish PEPPER||Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA)|
|11=||GBR||Ben AINSLIE||Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)|
|11=||FRA||Thierry PEPONNET||K-Challenge (FRA)|
|11=||ISV||Peter HOLMBERG||Alinghi Team (SUI)|
|11=||POL||Karol JABLONSKI||Desafio Español (ESP)|