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8 July 2007, 09:47 pm
HANSEN Wins In Near-Gale Conditions
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Match Cup Sweden 2007
Marstrand, Sweden

On a day that was a spectacular counterpoint to the light air that plagued most of the event, Bjorn HANSEN (SWE) and his Team Onico went three straight against Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) to win the ISAF Grade WC Match Cup Sweden, stage 8 of the World Match Racing Tour.
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Despite being a competitor at this event six times over the past seven years, this was HANSEN's first victory at Match Cup Sweden and his first win at a World Tour event.

'For me it was great fun,' said a wet but elated HANSEN, whose crew consisted of Tompi HALLBERG, Gustav TEMPELMAN, Pontus MEIJER, and Mathias BREDI. He continued, 'I'm just the guy in the back holding the stick while the four guys in the front do all the work. My team was fantastic!' For their efforts, HANSEN, the first Swedish skipper to have won in the history of this event, and his team win the GKSS Match Cup Sweden overall prize and 24,000 Euros in prize money.

Match race sailing always requires teams have the utmost skill in timing, tactics, and precision boat handling. But today's blustery conditions also required of them offshore skills as well, since the near-gale westerly breeze gusted to nearly 40 knots throughout the day, creating waves that crested to over 2 metres high in the course area. For the audience assembled on the cliffs, the course area was a spectacular scene of breaking waves, spewing sea foam, and huge gusts of wind, with the DS 37s under reefed mains and jibs launching and crashing off the tops of the waves upwind, and hurdling at planing speeds in wild showers of spray off the wind.

Mastery

HANSEN and his team displayed an outright mastery of these conditions, which were extreme by any standard. In his penultimate match against HOLMBERG, for example, his upwind speed and pointing allowed him to lead back to the start line in perfect form, keeping HOLMBERG out at the left end of the line and forcing the rival Swede to have to tack. This opened an immediate three-length lead that HANSEN extended to several times that by the end of the first lap around the two-lap course.

'Bjorn and his crew sailed really, really well today,' said HOLMBERG. 'In the bigger breeze and waves in the afternoon, we were just off on our timing,' he said.

Even Jesper RADICH (DEN), who was defeated in four matches by HANSEN in the semi-finals, paid tribute to his speed today. He said, 'It was a joy to watch the way his team was working the trim and the boat today.'

The level of skill exhibited by the eight remaining teams in the event was far more than just surviving the conditions, as all battles were hard-fought, both in pre-starts and around the track.

For example, in the first match of the finals, HOLMBERG rounded the mark just behind HANSEN, and threatened to overtake and pass him to windward. But despite over 30 knots of wind and the huge seas at the mouth of the fiord at this end of the course, HANSEN luffed HOLMBERG hard, spinnakers flailing wildly, sending both boats to within only two lengths of the breaking surf at the edge of the cliff. Only then did HANSEN break off, sails sheeted in, and once the boat was off on a plane, gybe away to starboard.

Petit-Final

Another example of these teams pushing hard was in the last match of the petit-final, where on the final spinnaker run to the finish Mattias RAHM (SWE), putting every last effort into trying to catch RADICH just a few lengths ahead, broke his mast just 100 metres from the finish.

'We felt we were closing on him, planing on the waves, then the bow stuffed into the back of a big wave. The boat stopped and the rig just kept going,' said RAHM. The bright green Santa Maria spinnaker carried the spar forward over the bow, and crew member Claes DAHLBERG was thrown overboard in the process. The whole sequence occurred just metres in front of the hundreds of spectators arrayed on the cliffs to watch the action.

HANSEN's victory has also earned him 25 points on the World Tour, advancing him from 13th to fourth in the Tour standings. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) earned eight points with his sixth place finish to maintain his position at the top of the leaderboard.

Results

1. Björn HANSEN (SWE)
2. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE)
3. Jesper RADICH (DEN)
4. Mattias RAHM (SWE)
5. Gavin BRADY (NZL)
6. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA)
7. Sebastien COL (FRA)
8. Simon MINOPRIO (NZL)
9. Johnie BERNTSSON (SWE)
10. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR)
11. Evgeniy NEUGODNIKOV (RUS)
12. Eric MONNIN (SUI)
13. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS)
14. Claire LEROY (FRA)
15. Jenny AXHEDE (SWE)
16. Malin MILLBOURN (SWE)

ISAF Match Racing World Championship Standings
(After Stage 8)

Pos Skipper Nation ISAF World Match Race Ranking Team Pts
1 Mathieu RICHARD FRA 2 Saba Sailing Team 78
2 Paolo CIAN ITA 3 Team Viano Mercedes Benz 66
3 Ian WILLIAMS GBR 1 Team Pindar 62
4 Bjorn HANSEN SWE 9 Team Onico 49
5 Sébastien COL FRA 4 Areva Challenge 47
6 Jesper BANK DEN 15 United Internet Team Germany 45
7 Ed BAIRD USA 28 Alinghi 40
8 Magnus HOLMBERG SWE 99 Victory Challenge 40
World Match Racing Tour Schedule
(2006-2007 Season)
Stage Event Venue Date
Stage 1 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal 18-23 July 2006
Stage 2 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark 9-13 August 2006
Stage 3 St. Moritz Match Race St Moritz, Switzerland 15-20 August 2006
Stage 4 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda 10-15 October 2006
Stage 5 Allianz Cup San Francisco, USA 24-29 October
Stage 6 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 28 November-3 December 2006
Stage 7 Match Race Germany Langenargen, Germany 23-28 May 2007
Stage 8 GKSS Match Race Marstrand, Sweden 2-8 July 2007
Stage 9 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal 24-25 July 2007
Stage 10 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark 8-12 August 2007
Stage 11 St. Moritz Match Race St Moritz, Switzerland 14-19 August 2007
Stage 12 Latium Match Cup Fiumicino, Italy 11-16 September 2007
Stage 13 Locman Cup - Elba Island Porto Azzurro, Elba Island, Italy 25-30 September 2007
Stage 14 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda 9-14 October 2007
Stage 15 Brasil Sailing Cup Angra dos Reis, Brazil 23-28 October 2007
Stage 16 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 28 November-2 December 2007

The World Match Racing Tour is an ISAF Special Event. Skippers earn points towards the World Championship at the nine events of the World Tour and the highest scoring skipper at the end of the season is the ISAF Match Racing World Champion.

The World Tour Partner and Official Car is BMW AG (Munich, Germany). World Tour sponsors include Sebago (Rockford, USA), the Official Footwear Supplier, Travel Places (West Sussex, Great Britain), the Official Travel Partner and Wedgwood (Cheshire, Great Britain) the Official Trophy Supplier.

For more information on the World Match Racing Tour, its competitors and events, visit the official World Tour website - www.WorldMatchRacingTour.com. World Match Racing Tour television programmes may be viewed on demand by clicking on the television icon on the home page of the website.

For all the news on the World Match Racing Tour CLICK HERE.

Yvonne Reid (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Bjorn HANSEN (left) leads Magnus HOLMBERG on the final run of the Match Cup Sweden Final to win the event 3-0:© Dan Ljungsvik dan@ljungsvik.com
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