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.
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.
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.
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|
|8||Magnus HOLMBERG||SWE||99||Victory Challenge||40|
|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.
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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.
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