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30 November 2005, 09:05 am
Rousing Start In Malaysia
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Monsoon Cup 2005
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

The ISAF Grade 1 Monsoon Cup, the celebratory 50th event of the Swedish Match Tour, got underway in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia yesterday, and after two more flights completed this morning, the event's technical director Peter GILMOUR (AUS) holds the lead after three straight victories.
GILMOUR's wins came against Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) yesterday and Cameron DUNN (NZL) and ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Sally BARKOW (USA) this morning. Chris DICKSON's (NZL) BMW Oracle Racing (USA) is 1one point behind with a 2-0 record, and day one leader Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) is third with a 3-1 mark after losing his first match of the day to Russell COUTTS (NZL).

The wind has been mostly from the northwest, but with big shifts. At times the left side of the windward leg works, aided by a strong left to right current, while other times the hard right has paid. 'It seems you have to commit hard to a side,' noted Dean BARKER's (NZL) tactician Terry HUTCHINSON.

After two flights in the morning racing today was postponed in anticipation of the Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal ABIDIN, arriving. The sultan is expected to sail with GILMOUR in the next flight where he faces BARKER.

The Opening Ceremony, complete with pyrotechnics and a marching band from the Royal Malaysian Navy, was held under the approving gaze of the Sultan yesterday and followed by the first three flights of the round robin. All this occurred from 1500-1830 hours local time yesterday after the morning fleet racing pro-am for local media representatives.

'It was a very eventful day,' said DICKSON. 'The fleet racing in the morning and the opening ceremony with the sultan, it's not every day you get to meet a sultan. The day started with Muslim prayers wafting across the water and ended with it.'

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Ian WILLIAMS was at the top of
his game on day one in Malaysia
© Guido Cantini/Swedish Match Tour

WILLIAMS held the lead with a 3-0 record at the end of the first day. Last summer the Brit took a sabbatical from his day job as a lawyer to try his had at match racing full time. He has since quit his job in pursuit of racing glory, and yesterday showed how much his game has grown this year. He scored wins in his three opening races, including a come-from-behind victory over Sweden's HOLMBERG.

'That's a good start, isn't it?' WILLIAMS said. 'It was a really shifty day. It was hard to call the shifts because they were coming off the shore and we were sailing so close to shore. But we stayed close when behind and sailed away when in the lead.'

Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin was on hand to officially open the Monsoon Cup. In a ceremony watched by an estimated 15,000 people, the sultan was presented the Monsoon Cup for viewing and watched each team march past as well as a fleet parade of various boats. He stayed to watch flight one and was treated to a big comeback win by COUTTS in the final match of the flight.

COUTTS and crew trailed Italian match racing champion Francesco BRUNI for the first two and a half laps. After rounding the windward mark the third and final time they jibed to starboard and rode a sweet puff to claim a two second win at the pin end.

The sultan left the venue after the first flight. Had he stayed he would have seen some more fantastic racing, such as the matches featuring DICKSON and COUTTS and HOLMBERG versus GILMOUR.

DICKSON got the better of COUTTS in what New Zealand commentator Peter MONTGOMERY glibly termed their 20,700th match. 'Chris got the best start and the better of the breeze,' said COUTTS. 'It was close at the end, but we couldn't get up to him.'

HOLMBERG and GILMOUR staged a thrilling final in the ISAF Grade 1 Swedish Match Cup last July, and their match yesterday seemed an extension of that series won by GILMOUR. HOLMBERG led for much of the match, but he carried a penalty that GILMOUR laid on him in a windward-leeward situation on the first run.

Up the third beat HOLMBERG was extending but GILMOUR closed up in a puff on the run to the finish, and then HOLMBERG had to slow to try and draw him close to unload the penalty. With the wind dying away, there was a lack of maneuverability and GILMOUR sailed over the top to win.

Monsoon Cup Standings
(After 5 of 17 flights)
1. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), PST, 3-0
2. Chris DICKSON (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing, 2-0
3. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Williams Racing Team, 3-1
4. Dean BARKER (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 2-1
T. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team, 2-1
6. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), Victory Challenge, 3-2
7. Russell COUTTS (NZL), Coutts Racing Team, 2-2
8. Francesco BRUNI (ITA), Luna Rossa Challenge, 1-2
8. Cameron DUNN (NZL), Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team, 1-2
10. Björn HANSEN (SWE), Team Apport.Net, 1-3
11. Sally BARKOW (USA), Team 7, 0-3
11.. Thierry PEPONNET (FRA), K-Challenge, 0-3

For a complete list of all the news about the Monsoon Cup CLICK HERE.

Sean McNeill (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Day one in Malaysia saw a busy schedule both off and on the water:© Guido Cantini/Swedish Match Tour
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