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26 May 2005, 11:15 am
PACÉ Unbeatable
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ACI H1 Match Race Cup 2005
Split, Croatia

Bertrand PACÉ (FRA) gave the field a thorough whipping yesterday to end day two of the ISAF Grade 1 ACI H1 Match Race Cup still undefeated at 13-0. Behind him ISAF World Match Race Rankings' numbers one and two, Ed BAIRD (USA) and Peter GILMOUR (AUS) made a good start to the second round robin.
Defending his title here in Split, Croatia, PACÉ, of BMW Oracle Racing (USA), continued to blitz the field. The reigning champion ran his record to a perfect 13-0 after winning seven races yesterday.

Local upstart Dario KLIBA (CRO) continued to torment his more experienced elders. The 25-year-old added Flavio FAVINI (ITA), of Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), and Ian AINSLIE (RSA), of Team Shosholoza (RSA), to his list of victims as he ran his record to 4-9.

KLIBA nearly defeated BAIRD, of Team Alinghi (USA), but the American and his crew's experience won out in the end.

'Today's a day where you appreciate the abilities of your crew,' said BAIRD, who has led the ISAF World Match Race Rankings since July 2004. 'When people look at the sport and wonder where the athleticism is, that's where it is.'

With a record of 9-3 BAIRD moved into second on the leaderboard of the ACI H1 Cup after a total of eight flights (40 matches) were raced in strong windy conditions.

A northeasterly howled over Split all day. In the morning it was gusting up to 30 knots, and whitecaps covered the racecourse. The wind abated to 20 knots as the day wore on, but still had gusts well over 25 knots. It led to broaches both upwind and downwind.

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PRESTI is well poised in fifth place
© Guido Cantini/SEASEE.IT
As he did on day one, PACÉ skated through it all. He got out of a jam in flight ten against Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), when he was able to unload a penalty at the windward mark.

According to chief umpire Bo SAMUELSSON, who was umpiring the match, PACÉ was penalized on the run when LINDBERG's spinnaker hit his backstay.

'LINDBERG had established a leeward overlap. He changed course slightly and Bertrand didn't respond. We penalized him when LINDBERG's spinnaker hit his backstay,' said SAMUELSSON.

PACÉ unloaded the penalty at the second windward mark. Three-quarters of the way up the beat he was on port tack with LINDBERG approaching on starboard. LINDBERG went hunting for PACÉ, bearing off as PACÉ did the same to duck clear astern. That got PACÉ to the right of LINDBERG.

At the windward mark PACÉ was inside of LINDBERG. 'Bertrand was to leeward and luffed, and we judged that LINDBERG didn't keep clear,' said SAMUELSSON.

With the northeasterly blowing offshore there were large shifts in the breeze, and it was very puffy under the headland where the windward mark was located. The breeze was also shifty in the pre-start.

'There was always one side of the line favoured at the starting gun,' said BAIRD, 'but it wasn't always the same side that was favored when we entered the pre-start.'

BAIRD said he was affected in his match against KLIBA by another pair on the racecourse.

'We came off the line in good shape with him under our bow,' BAIRD said. 'We tacked away on a shift and two boats had just rounded the leeward mark. We tacked away again and they tacked at the same time.'

BAIRD said they were mixed up with the other match all the way up the beat, which allowed KLIBA to open a sizable lead. It appeared that KLIBA would complete what he could not finish yesterday, a victory over BAIRD.

BAIRD said his crew made a huge gain at the leeward mark with a fantastic takedown. 'Kudos to the guys,' he said. 'That was a spectacular rounding in big breeze.'

At the second windward mark BAIRD was on KLIBA's transom and stayed there as the pair took off on port jibe. When KLIBA jibed to starboard BAIRD followed simultaneously. A puff hit as the pair turned and both nearly broached.

BAIRD's bowman Piet VAN NIEUWENHUYZEN was able to get the spinnaker pole on the mast while KLIBA's crew struggled. BAIRD rolled over and into the lead. He crossed the line clear ahead of the young Croatian.

'Today was a teamwork day,' BAIRD said at the end.

Behind BAIRD, GILMOUR is 8-4 and Kelvin HARRAP (NZL) of Emirates Team New Zealand is currently fourth on 8-5, tied with Philippe PRESTI (FRA).

At the end of the second round robin the top four teams will advance to the semi finals. At the moment it looks like being a battle between the above five sailors, although a good day for LINDBERG, Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) or even KLIBA could see them challenging for a semi final spot.

After two long day's of racing the teams get a bit of a break this morning with the racing due to start at 1250 hours local time.

Standings
(After 14 of 22 scheduled flights)

1. Bertrand PACE (FRA), BMW Oracle Racing (USA), 13-0
2. Ed BAIRD (USA), Team Alinghi (SUI), 9-3
3. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS), 8-4
4. Kelvin HARRAP (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 8-5
5. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), le Défi (FRA), 8-5
6. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), 6-7
7. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), 5-8
8. Dario KLIBA (CRO), 4-9
9. Flavio FAVINI (ITA) Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), 4-9
10. Björn HANSEN (SWE), 3-9
11. Ian AINSLIE (RSA) Team Shosholoza (RSA), 2-11

Sean McNeill (As Amended By ISAF). Image, LINDBERG's match against PACÉ:© Guido Cantini/SeaSee.it
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