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7 July 2007, 06:31 pm
European Titles Decided; Epic Tussle In Gold Cup
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Swan 45 Gold Cup 2007
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

With strong performances on the penultimate day's racing, Sir Peter OGDEN's (GBR) Swan 601 Spirit of Jethou and Richard BALDING's (GBR) Swan 41 Philippides 2 wrapped up the European titles in their respective fleets. With one day left in the bid to become Swan 45 World Champion, some of the top sailors in the world are locked in a titanic tussle.
Both Spirit of Jethou and Philippides 2 hold unassailable leads in the European standings, with only one race left in the regatta tomorrow.

BALDING was clearly delighted with the victory, 'I've been coming here since 1983 - I've only missed a few - but we've been to the Swan regattas in Sardinia, Newport and Cowes loads of times. The first time we came, after I'd first bought the boat I had a load of dinghy sailors onboard. The fleet went one way, we went the other and hit the starting mark so it's quite nice to come back as we've been honing and polishing our performance ever since.'

Final Race

OGDEN stated that he and his crew would still participate in the final race, 'There's a numerical game that you can play that says that really we should be able to go and get drunk tonight and not turn up and it's still all over - no one can catch us. But we're going to race very seriously and hopefully we'll have another good day.'

After the blustery conditions so far in the regatta, the strong winds abated today but remained shifty. For the first race this morning the wind ranged from 12 to 14 knots, with a slight increase to 14 to 16 knots in the afternoon, ranging from 238 to 275 degrees.

OGDEN's tactician Ian BUDGEN (GBR), talked through the planning behind the two starts that provided the platform for a win and a second place today, 'Which end of the line is favoured to start, changes all the time here. We started by the Squadron this morning and then this afternoon we were debating it for a while and ended up starting on port about ¾ of the way down towards the mainland end of the line towards West Bramble buoy. There was about 15 degrees of wind bias towards the Squadron end but there was such a huge tidal advantage by being on the mainland shore that you had to start down by the mainland end of the line. Akarana did well being virtually first to the mainland shore but we were better than a whole load of our competitors.'

World Championship Battle

The battle to become Swan 45 World Champion and lift the Gold Cup is becoming an epic tussle. After the first three races today only one point separated the top two boats. However victory in the fourth race saw Alex ROEPERS' (USA) Plenty establish a two point lead going into the final day tomorrow. In second place on the leaderboard is William DOUGLASS' (USA) Goombay Smash, with double Olympic silver medallist Ian WALKER (GBR) calling the shots. DOUGLASS' team managed two victories in the first two races of the day to put themselves in contention for the world championship. Four points further back is the leading British entry, Grant GORDON and Klaus DIEDRICHS' Fever.

ROEPERS is taking nothing granted, going into the final day. 'Races 3 and 4 were great today. After having issues with starts all week, we got those ones right and the crew were absolutely fantastic. We feel really positive going into tomorrow but the competition is very close and there are only a few points in it.'

Newly crowned Etchells World Champion Andy BEADSWORTH (GBR), tactician on Fever, still has hopes of adding another world title to his collection. 'There are still two races to go and anything can happen. Six points is not insurmountable and the fact that Goombay Smash and Plenty are really close could be good for us. They'll probably stay tight on each other, so we can get on and sail our own race. Our aim has to be to try to win the first race and then see where we're at going into the final one. It's still all to play for.'

BEADSWORTH explained how Fever had been overtaken in the final race of the day. 'Our luck ran out a bit on the last race. We got pinned on the start by DSK, so got pushed further left than we wanted. The right looked favoured so we tacked over, but DSK tacked as well. We couldn't live there and were squeezed back to the left. The right came in as we thought it would and at the first mark there were about 18 boats ahead of us. We had to work really hard to get back up to seventh - as there' s no speed difference at all between these boats.'

Tonight's social event will afford the teams the opportunity to relax at the Crew Party, being held at the Yacht Haven in Cowes.

Nick Gower (As Amended By ISAF)
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