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13 February 2007, 09:56 am
LINDBERG Leads The Way
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JPMorgan Asset Management Winter Challenge 2006-2007
Staines, Great Britain

The final ISAF Grade 2 Qualifier for the JPMorgan Asset Management Winter Challenge Series produced some of the toughest racing to date. Three of the world's top match racers battled for the remaining places in the Grand Final during the three-day event at Queen Mary Reservoir, Staines, with Staffan LINDBERG (FIN) claiming victory in the final.
The biggest surprise of the Grade 2 event came from British World Match Racing Tour leader Ian WILLIAMS, who failed to reach the semi-finals. Finish sailor LINDBERG, ranked #10 in the world, took the honours in the round robin series followed closely by world #3 Matthew RICHARD (FRA). Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES (GBR), one of Britain's best match racers, took third and Eric MONNIN (SUI), world #15, stole the remaining semi-final place.

Conditions throughout the weekend were challenging, as the sailors faced a bitterly cold 10 knots on Friday, to very light and variable on Saturday, and gusts of up to 20 knots on Sunday.

The deciding semi-final matches were dynamic. LINDBERG made a bold impression and won his match, securing his place in the final. The race between CAMPBELL-JAMES and RICHARD was fierce. With less than a boat length separating them for the whole race, the two teams were caught in massive tacking duels on the upwind legs and hard luffs on the downwind legs. CAMPBELL-JAMES defended hard and looked certain for victory, but RICHARD broke through on the last gybe just before the finish, stealing the last place in the final.

International Battle

The final on Sunday saw an international battle between world #3, RICHARD and world #10, LINDBERG. All matches were incredibly close eventually forcing a third tiebreaking race. The tiebreak saw LINDBERG trailing early on the first lap, but he made his move, passing at the final windward mark and holding RICHARD off for the downwind leg to take the victory.

With only the ISAF Grade 2 Women's Final left before the ISAF Grade 2 Grand Final on 9-11 March, four British sailors - WILLIAMS, Andy GREEN, John GREENLAND and CAMPBELL-JAMES - have now secured their places. LINDBERG and RICHARD will join fellow international sailors Bjorn HANSEN (SWE) and the only woman to qualifier for the Grand Final at this stage, women's world #1 Claire LEROY (FRA).

The series continues on the following dates:

Women's Winter Challenge: 23-25 February 2007, ISAF Grade 2
Winter Challenge Final: 9-11 March 2007, ISAF Grade 2

Myrrh Walker (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Staffan LINDBERG won his place in the Grand Final:© Paul Wyeth/JPMorgan Asset Management/RYA
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