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27 May 2005, 09:44 am
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ACI H1 Match Race Cup 2005
Split, Croatia

In a thrilling conclusion Peter GILMOUR (AUS) and Philippe PRESTI (FRA) squeezed into the last four of the ISAF Grade 1 ACI H1 Match Race Cup in Split, Croatia. They join defending champion Bertrand PACÉ (FRA) and ISAF World Match Race Rankings number one, Ed BAIRD (USA) in tomorrow's semi finals.
PACÉ, of BMW Oracle Racing (USA) was assured of reaching the semis before racing even started today, although he did lose his unbeaten record in today's opening flight. BAIRD, of Team Alinghi (SUI) and the only one of the four semi finalist not to have won the ACI Cup before, secured his place with a win over Staffan LINDBERG (FIN) in flight 20.

However GILMOUR, of Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS), and PRESTI, of le Défi (FRA), both had to wait until a nail biting 22nd and final flight. They were part of a group of four skippers, including ISAF World Match Race Rankings' number four, Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) and LINDBERG, who had an opportunity to advance.

In the final flight PRESTI beat fellow Frenchman RICHARD to advance. GILMOUR not only had to beat his American rival and Rankings' number one, BAIRD, in the final match, but also had to hope Björn HANSEN (SWE) would beat LINDBERG in the match going on ahead of them. It all came right for the Australian and he squeaked into the semi final for a rematch with BAIRD, whom he has already beaten twice here, whilst defending champion, PACÉ lines up against PRESTI.

(After 22 of 22 scheduled flights)

1. Bertrand PACE (FRA), BMW Oracle Racing (USA), 17-3
2. Ed BAIRD (USA), Team Alinghi (SUI),14-6
3. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS), 12-8
4. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), le Défi (FRA), 12-8
5. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA),11-9
6. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN),11-9
7. Kelvin HARRAP (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 10-10
8. Björn HANSEN (SWE), 8-12
9. Flavio FAVINI (ITA) Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), 6-14
10. Dario KLIBA (CRO), 5-15
11. Ian AINSLIE (RSA) Team Shosholoza (RSA), 4-16

Original story...

With an imperious 17-0 record, defending champion Bertrand PACÉ (FRA) has secured a semi final place in the ISAF Grade 1 ACI H1 Match Race Cup in Split, Croatia. Behind him, the scrap for semi final places has potentially massive implications on the next release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings on 22 June.

After three days of racing and with four flights remaining in the double round robin PACÉ, of BMW Oracle Racing (USA), has clinched the number one ranking with the semi finals looming.

PACÉ, the event's reigning champion, continued his whitewash of the competition yesterday with four more wins, including victories over the top two in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, Ed BAIRD (USA) and Peter GILMOUR (AUS).

His four wins in light winds extended his record to 17-0 and guaranteed him the opportunity to choose his opponent in the semi final round.

BAIRD, of Team Alinghi (SUI), went 3-1 in yesterday's trying conditions and gained a firm grip on second in the round robin. Two wins from the four remaining flights will secure the American Rankings' leader a semi final place. In third place Philippe PRESTI (FRA) has a 10-6 record.

With no one except PACÉ guaranteed a spot in the next round, today will see a real dog fight for the semi final places. BAIRD has a little breathing space but right behind PRESTI are Staffan LINDBERG (FIN) and GILMOUR of Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS).

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BAIRD's Team Alinghi look
good for a semi final place
© Guido Cantini/Swedish
Match Tour
By his standards the Australian had a poor day with a 1-3 record in the four flights. In a match that could prove vital, in the final flight of the day, which did not finish until after 2000 hours local time, LINDBERG beat GILMOUR to tie on a 9-7 record but claim fourth thanks to his win.

Yesterday's racing did not begin until after 1600. The day's first warning signal was scheduled for 1250, but a postponement was issued instead as the winds off Split were light and shifty.

Racing finally commenced in a west/southwesterly breeze between five and eight knots. Four flights (20 matches) were conducted in about four and a half hours.

Principal Race Officer Alen KUSTIÆ kept the sailors on the water so late today because of tomorrow's forecast. Light winds are again forecast for the morning, and the afternoon brings the hope of a ten knot westerly. Either way, gone is the boisterous 30 knots of Wednesday.

PACÉ's bye in round two is scheduled for tomorrow's first flight, flight eight, which gives the other skippers a chance to close up one race. With a four race advantage in the loss column he cannot be caught even if he loses his final three matches and BAIRD wins his final four matches.

The fourth spot, however, is up for grabs.

LINDBERG, although in the driver's seat, would appear to have the more difficult task. His next three matches are against BAIRD, Kelvin HARRAP (NZL), of Emirates Team New Zealand, and PACÉ, all matches he lost in round one. He finishes with a match against Björn HANSEN (SWE), who is placed eighth with a 5-11 record, and who he beat in round one.

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The pressure is on GILMOUR (left) to
repeat his win over PRESTI (right) to
reach the semis
© Guido Cantini/Swedish
Match Tour
GILMOUR's faces HANSEN, Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) and PRESTI, all of whom he beat at the end of round one. In his final flight, in a match that could prove crucial, he goes up against the sailor one place above him in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, BAIRD. GILMOUR beat the American in round one and will surely need a similar effort to secure a semi final place.

Then there are dark horses such as RICHARD and HARRAP. Both have 8-8 records, but RICHARD owns the tiebreaker by having won the second encounter. Both would have to win out while getting help elsewhere to advance.

The pressure is on GILMOUR to win out. He and BAIRD are locked in a battle for top spot in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings after GILMOUR's win in the recent ISAF Grade 1 Match Race Germany and second place in the ISAF Grade 1 Toscana Elba Cup. However, if GILMOUR fails to advance to the semi finals here in Split, his chances of the number one spot look likely to be dashed.

(After 18 of 22 scheduled flights)

1. Bertrand PACE (FRA), BMW Oracle Racing (USA), 17-0
2. Ed BAIRD (USA), Team Alinghi (SUI),12-4
3. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), le Défi (FRA), 10-6
4. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), 9-7
5. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS), 9-7
6. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), 8-8
7. Kelvin HARRAP (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 8-8
8. Björn HANSEN (SWE), 5-11
9. Dario KLIBA (CRO), 5-12
10. Flavio FAVINI (ITA) Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), 5-12
11. Ian AINSLIE (RSA) Team Shosholoza (RSA), 2-15

Sean McNeill (As Amended By ISAF). Image, PACÉ has been in a league of his own in Split:© Guido Cantini/
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