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11 May 2005, 05:32 pm
BAIRD And GILMOUR Prepare For Battle
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Match Race Germany 2005
Langenargen, Germany

The eighth annual ISAF Grade 1 Match Race Germany is set to start tomorrow with a top class fleet racing on Lake Constance in southwest Germany.
The field of twelve teams features five sailors from the top ten of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, including numbers one and two, Ed BAIRD (USA) and Peter GILMOUR (AUS). There are six crews representing syndicates for the 32nd America's Cup and two Olympic gold medallists on show.

According to event organizer Eberhard MAGG, it is the most competitive lineup ever for the event, which is held on beautiful Lake Constance. The lake borders Switzerland and Austria and offers stunning views of the Alps. The only drawback is that the wind conditions can be very fickle at times.

'It's a great mix of America's Cup sailors,' said MAGG. 'We have difficulties sometimes with the wind conditions, but the race management is proactive and I think the sailors are happy that they at least get out and try to get the racing done.'

Among the entries BAIRD will be looking to sure up his number one Rankings slot after Russell COUTTS (NZL) knocked him out of the ISAF Grade 1 Toscana Elba Cup. One behind him in the Rankings is GILMOUR, who finished runner up in Elba and is defending his title in Germany.

Locally, the most anticipation surrounds Jesper BANK (DEN). BANK, who raced with the Scandinavian-based Victory Challenge in Louis Vuitton Cup 2003, has been selected as skipper of Germany's first-ever challenge for the America's Cup, United Internet Team Germany.

BANK will sail this week with tactician Markus WIESER of Germany. Although the two veteran sailors have never raced together before, WIESER is in line to join the upstart team. WIESER said the most important thing about the team is to educate the German public and sailors about Cup racing.

'In Germany, there's not a lot of professional sailing. You have to get an education and then a job,' WIESER said. 'I don't know if the challenge will help change that or not. There are no new sailors coming up the ranks.'

After this event both BAIRD and GILMOUR are entered in the two other forecoming ISAF Grade 1 Match Racing events: the ACI Cup, in Croatia from 22-28 May and; the Swedish Match Cup from 4-10 July. BAIRD was not scheduled to compete in Croatia, but just confirmed his participation today.

The format of Match Race Germany splits the twelve teams into two groups of six for a single round robin in each group. The top four from each group advance to the next round, which will either be another round robin or a knockout round, depending on the weather conditions. The top four from that round advances to the semi finals, with the winners advancing to the final.

Regardless of the stated format, the event remains flexible to change to accommodate the weather.

'There's only been one year where we've had to advance straight to the final,' said MAGG. 'We'll lose some time due to the light winds, but it always seems to get sorted out in the end.'

Although Match Race Germany has been held since 1997, this is the eighth annual event. The 1999 event was cancelled when Langenargen and the towns lying on Lake Constance were flooded.

Match Race Germany Entrants
(America's Cup team - ISAF World Match Race Ranking)

Ed BAIRD (USA), Team Alinghi (USA) - 1
Peter GILMOUR (AUS) - 2
Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) - 4
Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) - 8
Staffan LINDBERG (FIN) - 10
Sébastien COL (FRA), K-Challenge (FRA) - 17
Bertrand PACÉ (FRA), BMW Oracle Racing (USA) - 29
Jan Eike ANDRESEN (GER) - 40
Jesper BANK (DEN), Fresh 17 (GER) - 69
Ben AINSLIE (GBR), Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) - 200
Sten MOHR (DEN) - 342
Ian AINSLIE (RSA), Shosholoza Challenge (RSA) - 382

Sean McNeill/swedishmatchtour.com (As Amended By ISAF). Image, GILMOUR on his way to victory last year:© Guido Cantini/Sea&See
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