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19 May 2006, 06:00 pm
Day 10: All Set For Team Racing Finals
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ISAF World Sailing Games 2006
Lake Neusiedl, Austria

The quarter finals of the team racing competition kicked off today at 1100 and the first pair up were CZE1 and USA3. Competing for the best of five races, they alternated with AUS1 v USA1 on the race course. With the course set just of the shore, there was once again spectators lining up to enjoy the spectacle, and with the finish line just metres out it was action not to miss.
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USA3, one of the invited teams and the winners of the gold fleet round robin, selected yesterday's surprised qualifiers CZE1 as their opponent. USA3 were clearly the dominant team in this pairing but it was not without a fight from the Czech team. The second match saw the closest tussle and proved to be the race of the day for CZE1. Keeping in touch with USA3 throughout they forced a penalty just before the finish and with applause from the spectators lining the shore they claimed victory. USA3 were too much for them in the next two matches however and progressed through to the semi-finals with three wins to one loss.

Second up were AUS and USA1 and the action between these two teams was frantic. First blood went to AUS and they cruised through the finish with a one-two combination. The second match was closer but mistakes from the Australians, including a penalty just before the finish, allowed USA1 to sneak through with a first and third. The third match was dominated by USA1 so the fourth was vital for AUS if they were going to make it through to the semi-final.

USA1 took a penalty at the first mark but it was still not a done deal for AUS. By the second mark AUS were in a one-two position and with USA1 taking another penalty on the third leg, AUS just had to finish. After some excellent work by USA1 up the last leg, all four boats came together again at the finish and with AUS taking a penalty it looked like it was all over. However, taking their turns quickly the Australian boat managed to sneak across the line ahead of the second USA boat to draw the series at two all.

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USA1 defeat AUS on their way to the final
© ISAF

The fifth race was the decider. AUS took a penalty at the start and USA1 got to the first mark with a one-two combination. AUS received another penalty on the second leg and their challenge was over. Too far ahead for AUS to attack, USA1 secured their place in the semi-final with three wins and two losses.

GBR Take On The USA

The other two quarter finals were GBR3 against USA4 and USA2 against GBR1. With the wind increasing and dark clouds building across the lake, the fleet went ashore to reef before coming back out to decide if it would be an all-American semi-final. Both of the first two matches were relatively easy victories for GBR3 against the top qualifiers from the silver fleet, USA4. In the other pairing it was a role reversal with USA2 taking a clean sweep in their first two matches against GBR1.

There was another short delay as the fleet shook out their reefs but then they were off again. If GBR3 won their next match against USA4 they were guaranteed a place in the semis whilst USA2 were also keen to go through with a clean sweep.

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GBR3 go through to the semi-final
© ISAF

USA4 rounded the first mark in first and third and with one of the GBR boats hitting the mark and doing turns, it looked like it could be over. Despite some hard work by the GBR team, USA4 took victory and revived their chances of making it to the final.

In the other pairing it was the last chance for GBR1 to make the semi-final but it was not to be for them. USA2 won their third straight victory to go through to the final as the only team with a clean sweep, giving them the opportunity to chose their opponent in the semi.

As GBR3 and USA2 wound up again for their fourth match the wind shifted and after starting the match the Race Committee called the teams back so that they could re-set the course. Not only did the wind shift, it also increased and some frantic pre-start action ensued. One of the USA boats was over the line at the start and with better boat speed from GBR3, it was all over. A delighted GBR3 went through to the semi-final.

Steve TYLECOTTE (GBR), the 1995 ISAF Team Racing World Champion commented: 'we are really pleased to be in the semi-final and have been improving fast since we got here. It has been great to see so many teams from less experienced team racing nations here, such as the Italians and the Czech teams. It has given the event a really good international flavour, a real sailing festival, and is great to help develop team racing as a discipline. We are very positive about winning our semi and reaching the final.'No ALT tag specified

Results of the quarter finals

USA3 defeated CZE1 - 3 wins and 1 loss
USA1 defeated AUS - 3 wins and 2 losses
GBR3 defeated USA4 - 3 wins and 1 loss
USA2 defeated GBR1 - 3 wins and 0 loss

The Underdog's Fight Back

In the first semi-final, USA3 chose to sail against USA1. After some excellent pre-start work by USA1, USA3 took the first victory. Holding onto a two-three combination for most of the race, the leading USA1 boat could not do enough to get their team mate up a place and was took a penalty whilst trying to do so. In their second match, in increasinly choppy water USA1 charged out of the starting blocks to take first and second at the first mark. They held this combination to the end to draw the series at one all. Another close start between the two American teams saw USA3 with a slight advantage at the first windward mark. Some hard work by USA1 saw them regain the advantage and take another close win to lead two, one.

USA3 had to win their next match to stay in the running for a place in the final. A tacking duel up the first beat and it was USA1 who had the advantage with a two-three combination. The positions were reversed by the last mark and it looked like they would be sailing a fifth deciding match. An extremely close final beat resulted in a four boat tacking duel right on the finish line and was the most exciting finish of the championship so far. Suddenly it was all over as a penalty for USA3 enabled USA1 to sneak through to claim their spot in the final.

Caleb SILSBY (USA1) and his team were delighted with their victory: 'we have been sailing against and with these guys for a long time. They chose to sail against us so we were always the underdogs, we are really psyched to be in the final.' Asked which team they would prefer to sail against in the final SILSBY said: 'it's too hard to say. They are both really good teams so we don't mind which one we will face.'

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GBR1 defeat USA2 to go through to the final
© ISAF

An All-American Final?

With the breeze building to excellent 420 planing conditions GBR3 took on USA2 in the first round of their semi-final. More close pre-start action delighted the spectators and USA2 came out with the advantage. GBR3 took a penalty for an incident as they approached the windward mark and again at the last mark after a heated battle which kept the jury boats on their toes. USA2 finished first and second to take first blood.

The second match saw the pairs split for the pre-start action. All four boats rounded the top mark together and by the speader mark GBR3 were in a two-three combination. By the last mark they had converted this to one-three and after a tacking duel up the last leg which resulted in some frantic action right on the finish line GBR3 claimed their second victory.

The breeze had dropped significantly by their third match but the water off the pontoon was churning due to the high speed action from both competitors and the jury boats trying to keep up with the action. GBR3 lead into the top mark but as they came round the spreader mark all four boats were back in the thick of it. With shouts of protest against USA2 upheld with a red flag from the jury boat, turns were completed and the GBR3 boats were both ahead as they came downwind. USA2 had to take turns again up the final beat and GBR3 took a comfortable win.

The fourth match now had the potential to be the decider - if GBR3 could win again they would progress to the final. Getting the best of the early pre-start action and with the breeze decreasing to under ten knots, GBR were lead with a one, two at the first mark. A gybing duel ensued but GBR held on to their position and controlled the last beat to win one, two and go through to the final where they will sail against USA1.

USA3 will sail USA2 to decide third and fourth overall.

Results of the Semi-Finals

USA1 defeated USA3 - 3 wins and 1 loss
GBR3 defeated USA2 - 3 wins and 1 loss

For all the news on the 2006 ISAF World Sailing Games CLICK HERE.

ISAF, Image: USA1 and USA3 battle it out for a place in the final © ISAF
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