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7 March 2007, 09:18 am
PEPPER Solidifies Lead In Quest For Title
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Bacardi Cup 2007
Miami, Florida, USA

The current Star Class World and North American Champion Hamish PEPPER of New Zealand, sailing this week with his coach and crew David GILES, won the third of six scheduled daily races at the 2007 Bacardi Cup Regatta on the waters of Biscayne Bay.
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The Kiwi victory increases their overall lead to six points ahead of Sweden's Fredrik LÖÖF and crew Anders EKSTRÖM, the defending Rolex Miami OCR champions, who finished second.

PEPPER and GILES attacked the right side of the course on the first windward leg and rounded both the first and second marks in fourth place behind Argentina's Fabian MacGOWAN and crew Federico ENGELHARD, LÖÖF and EKSTRÖM, and George SZABO with crew Magnus LILJEDAHL.

The New Zealanders engineered considerable gains on the third leg, rounding the third mark in second place behind MacGOWAN and ENGELHARD, who fell out of the lead on the subsequent fourth leg. PEPPER and GILES then tacked aggressively towards the final mark, taking the inside line away from LÖÖF and EKSTRÖM, who allowed them to slip by to avoid a penalty.

'We chose the right side from the start, and that proved to be the correct side today,' said PEPPER, a Laser Class veteran who has taken the Stars by storm since his debut in the class just over a year ago. 'We jibed just ahead of [MacGowan] on the fourth leg and got phenomenal left-hand pressure. We just took it from him, but that's racing. He'll be upset he missed that shift.'

Today's race was sailed in winds that escalated from 10 to 15 knots out of the North/Northeast and followed a traditional windward-leeward course.

SZABO and LILJEDAHL, an Olympic Gold medallist who is celebrating his birthday today, held third position off the starting line and through the second mark. They dropped to a fourth place finish, which moves them up to seventh overall. 'We had a few lucky breaks today that we didn't get yesterday,' said Liljedahl, who is sailing in his and his 15th Bacardi Cup, 'and we're looking for three more good finishes to put us in the top five.'

America's Cup veteran Iain MURRAY and crew Andrew PALFREY of Australia finished sixth and keep their third place overall, while Poland's Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and crew Dominik ZYCKI crossed the finish just behind them and keep their fourth position overall.

2004 Bacardi Cup champions Afonso DOMINGOS and crew Bernardo SANTOS of Portugal took third in today's race moving them up to 33rd place overall. Even though their chances of winning were obliterated by a black flag on Day 1 and a 28th place finish on Day 2, Santos remains optimistic about finishing in the top 15.

Following a slow start, defending Bacardi Cup Champions John DANE and crew Austin SPERRY finished 30th and are currently ranked 22nd in the overall standings.

More than 75 teams representing 23 countries are competing in the 80th Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta, one of the most competitive and highly anticipated Star Class events in the world.

The Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta is co-hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club and the U.S. Sailing Center, both based in Coconut Grove, and is sponsored by BACARDI U.S.A., Inc.

Bacardi Cup participants sail one race per day from Sunday through Friday on a 10.5-mile course in Biscayne Bay. Sailors are allowed to drop their worst performance of the six races in the regatta.

Janet Maizner (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Action from Day Three :© Alex Gort/Bacardi Cup
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