There has been a fantastic sailing show at this ISAF Grade 1 Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman and the ideal weather conditions attracted sailing fans down to the crowded promenade of Porto Azzurro to witness close-up the breathtaking match race duels between some of the best professionals in the field.
It was a bad day for the Italian crews as three of their four teams were eliminated: Francesco De ANGELIS (Luna Rossa Challenge) and Hamish PEPPER (Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team) did not even qualify for the quarter finals, losing to Ian AINSLIE (Team Shosholoza) and to Russell COUTTS respectively and Iain PERCY'S +39 Challenge, having won the first match, was then eliminated in the afternoon by Magnus HOLMBERG'S Victory Challenge.
The first helmsman to pass into the semi finals was James SPITHILL (Luna Rossa Challenge) who beat Gavin BRADY (BMW ORACLE Racing) two to nil. In the first match Spithill rounded the first leeward mark with a 30 second lead, which was then reduced by half at the second windward mark. In the final downwind leg Spithill chose the left side of the course, covering Brady by gybing and keeping BMW ORACLE in check until the finish line. During the second match at the end of the first upwind leg Luna Rossa's skipper luffed up near the mark, forcing his opponent head to wind. Brady lost the duel earning a penalty turn, chased Spithill until the finish line, but BMW ORACLE is defeated and eliminated.
The second quarter final flight, best of three, took place between Russell COUTTS (Team Russell COUTTS) and Ed BAIRD (Alinghi). The New Zealander, winner of the 2004 Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman , beat the American skipper 2 to 1. An irony of sorts: in less than 24 hours Coutts confronted both Alinghi teams, eliminating both of them. A breathtaking battle between these two giants of the sailing world, who, after having won a match each, risked it all to qualify for the semi finals. In the third match Coutts rounded the last windward mark lagging eight seconds behind Baird. Flying the kite he chose the right side of the course, gybing and beginning the chase. A nail biting finish saw Coutts cut the finish line ahead of BMW ORACLE.
Peter GILMOUR (Pizza - La Sailing Team) beat Ian AINSLIE (Team Shosholoza) with an irrefutable 2 nil score.
The last quarter final ended with a victory by Magnus Hodlmberg (Victory Challenge) who defeated a fighting Iain PERCY (+39 Challenge) 2 to 1.
This morning, Saturday May 7 at 10:00 the semi finals between Spithill and Coutts and Gilmour and. Holmberg promise to be an unforgettable show for all sailing fans.