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29 May 2005, 11:17 am
Fifth ACI Title For GILMOUR
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ACI H1 Match Race Cup 2005
Split, Croatia

Peter GILMOUR (AUS) defeated Philippe PRESTI (FRA) 3-2 in a tightly fought final series to claim the ISAF Grade 1 ACI H1 Match Race Cup for the fifth time.
Bertrand PACÉ (FRA), of BMW Oracle Racing (USA), placed third, while Ed BAIRD (USA), of Team Alinghi (SUI), finished fourth. PACÉ beat BAIRD 2-0 in the Petit Final.

'We've just been looking to improve on last year's performance,' said GILMOUR, 45 years old. 'We weren't very happy with how we sailed the second half of last year. Now we've got two wins and a second in the last three events.'

Thanks to his recent success, GILMOUR at number two in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, is really putting the pressure on Rankings' leader BAIRD.

'Him finishing fourth and us first is a surprise,' said GILMOUR. 'We just hoped to finish one place ahead of him.'

GILMOUR's victory was his fifth championship at the ACI Cup. 'That's a real pleasure,' GILMOUR said. 'The people of Croatia are great.'

In the final GILMOUR opened a 2-0 lead. He won the first match when PRESTI was penalized twice at the leeward mark, and the second when he completed a 270 degree penalty turn on the finish line.

PRESTI, who upped his level of aggression in the semi finals and final, rallied to make it 2-2. He won the third flight when GILMOUR received a pre-start penalty and the fourth when he completed a penalty turn on the finish line.

That set up a winner-takes-all final match, but it was anticlimactic compared to the first four flights, which were marked by close racing and many leebow tacks.

With the west/southwesterly seabreeze blowing around eight knots, down from its high of ten knots earlier in the day, GILMOUR started the final match to the left and PRESTI to the right.

'The right had been favoured all day,' said PRESTI, 39 years old. 'We thought it was still favoured in the last race. We saw a big puff on the left, but thought the wind would drop and swing right.'

PRESTI, by his own admission, guessed wrong. When PRESTI tacked to starboard and towards the left side, GILMOUR was crossing in a ten knot puff about three boatlengths ahead. He led by 30 seconds at the windward mark, and was never threatened the rest of the way.

'I guess it was bad eyes,' said PRESTI, laughing off the loss.

'Philippe started very well today,' said GILMOUR. 'He pushed us to the right all the time. By hook or by crook we were going to win the left in the last match, and we did.'

GILMOUR advanced to the final by beating BAIRD 3-1 in one semi final match. PRESTI got there by beating PACÉ, also 3-1. Ironically, GILMOUR and PRESTI just barely advanced to the semi finals. They had to win their final races in the round robin and count on others losing to advance.

Yesterday PRESTI said he enjoyed racing PACÉ because of his aggressive nature. But it was PRESTI who turned up the aggression in the semi final, taking the fight to PACÉ and not backing down from his countryman.

'In the round robin we were happy to be here, happy to race,' said PRESTI, 'but when we got to the semifinal we knew we had to pick it up and we did.'

GILMOUR said he was surprised to beat BAIRD by such a lopsided score. 'Ed is the quintessential smooth and consistent sailor. You have to be all that and more to beat him,' said GILMOUR, who beat BAIRD in five of their six matches this week.

Final

Peter GILMOUR (AUS) d. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), 3-2

Petit Final

Bertrand PACÉ (FRA) vs. Ed BAIRD (USA), 2-0

Semi Finals

Peter GILMOUR (AUS) d. Ed BAIRD (USA), 3-1
Philippe PRESTI (FRA) d. Bertrand PACE (FRA), 3-1

Final Standings

1. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS), 18-11
2. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), le Défi (FRA), 17-12
3. Bertrand PACÉ (FRA), BMW Oracle Racing (USA), 20-6
4. Ed BAIRD (USA), Team Alinghi (SUI), 15-11
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

Sean McNeill (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Winners here again, GILMOUR and co.:© Guido Cantini/SeaSee.it, Split
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