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14 May 2005, 09:35 am
Light and Fickle Winds on Day Two
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Match Race Germany 2005
Lake Constance, Germany

Proceedings at ISAF Grade 1 Match Race Germany ground to a halt yesterday when the wind disappeared from Lake Constance. After a glorious opening day in fresh winds, the winds were much lighter and more fickle forcing the race committee to abandon racing.
Jesper BANK (DEN), of United Internet Team Germany, and Bertrand PACÉ (FRA), of BMW Oracle Racing, showed that they have a fine touch no matter the conditions. The two skippers converted the leads they established on day one to win their respective groups. Bank won the five-flight Group A round robin with the perfect score of 5-0, while Pacé posted a 4-1 mark at the head of Group B.

They advanced to the quarterfinals along with six other crews, led by skippers Ben AINSLIE (GBR), of Emirates Team New Zealand, Ed BAIRD (USA), of Team Alinghi, Peter GILMOUR (AUS), of Pizza-La Sailing Team, Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Sten MOHR (DEN) and Ian WILLIAMS (GBR).

They'll begin the round robin quarter final round tomorrow (Saturday) morning. Each crew will sail seven flights, with the top four advancing to the semi-final.

The four skippers eliminated from advancing - Jan Eike ANDRESEN (GER), Ian AINSLIE (RSA), of Team Shosholoza, Sébastian COL (FRA), of K-Challenge, and Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) - sailed a one race sail off for places 9 to 12.

Col beat Ainslie to finish ninth, with Ian AINSLIE placing tenth. Richard beat Andresen for eleventh, and the German placed twelfth.

Although racing was conducted, it was difficult to call some of it fair. In particular, the morning's resumption of the Group B round robin was sailed in extremely light winds, less than four knots. They might be better described as drifting conditions. The winds came and went throughout the day, before completely dying away around 15:00.

With a single round robin of five races, the margin for error was slim. And it frustrated Gilmour, the defending champion of Match Race Germany, who voiced his frustration at the evening press conference.

"We all like to sail in good match-racing conditions," said Gilmour. "When the conditions go light and extreme, the races aren't fair. I always favour abandoning a race rather than sailing in light conditions. When a race is abandoned it's still fair for both teams."

Gilmour didn't mince his words because he nearly got eliminated after five races. He lost his first race today against Pacé by a large amount because the match was a driftathon. According to Gilmour, there was no skill involved.

That set up a scenario where Gilmour had to win his final race to advance, which he did. But that race was also held in light winds that were marginal for racing.

"They don't use their discretion enough," Gilmour said. "If I'd gotten eliminated after five races I'd be doing some pounding. And the point is that the young guys aren't getting enough experience. Four teams only sailed five races, and now they're going home. The only fair way is a double round robin followed by semis and final. That way the cream rises to the top."

In past years Match Race Germany has struggled to get racing in because of the light conditions and the boat used was a 24-footer. Now the boat is a 35-footer, with a much taller rig and more sail area. The pressure to run races isn't as strong.

"He's right," said Principal Race Officer Rudi MAGG, who has run the races at the event since its beginning in 1996. "A double round robin is fairer."

After the racing for ninth through twelfth was finished, the wind died away completely. Magg abandoned racing for the day at 16:50. Ten minutes later the best wind of the day, an 8-knot westerly, filled in for more than an hour. So ended Friday the 13th at Match Race Germany.

"And I'm not superstitious," said Gilmour.
Sean McNeil Image: © Guido Cantini/Sea&See
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