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27 January 2006, 10:00 am
Semi-Finals Decided
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Auckland Match Racing Cup 2006
Auckland, New Zealand

In a cliffhanger that went nearly all the way to the wire, the four semi-finalists in the Auckland Match Racing Cup were decided today. Before the second round robin was completed, Dean BARKER of Emirates Team New Zealand secured his place, dropping only three matches out of 18.
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Auckland sailor Cameron Appleton was also assured a place before the second round robin was completed, as was Bertrand PACE of the BMW Oracle Racing team, both finishing on 12-6.

For Chris DICKSON, skipper and CEO of BMW Oracle Racing, his place was in question up to the second last flight of the double round robin. He and French skipper, Mathieu RICHARD were level pegging up to that point, so their match became the crucial decider.

The outcome was virtually assured from the outset when DICKSON forced RICHARD into a pre-start foul, costing the French crew a penalty. Because the French gained from their infringement, the umpires took the additional step of forcing them to complete their penalty turn immediately after the start, which allowed DICKSON into a lead he never relinquished during the double circuit of the windward-leeward track. DICKSON finished on 11-7.

All four semi-finalists were delighted to make it through after some tough racing on the Waitemata Harbour today.

Top scorer Dean BARKER said: 'I am looking forward to racing tomorrow. It is great to get into the semi-finals. We will see some very good racing with the four teams that have made it through.

'Everybody is sailing well, but there are no real surprises at the four who made it.'

Cameron APPLETON admitted he was 'exhausted' after today's racing.

'It was a hard day. We had to get a lot right in some very trying conditions. The starts were everything today. We didn't win them all, but we did manage to win the ones that counted.'

With both BMW Oracle Racing crews through to the final four, skipper and CEO Chris DICKSON was pleased with the outcome. 'It shows the depth of talent across the board in our team. The objective with the double round robin format is to get into the final four and both our teams achieved that.'

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Cameron APPLETON plays the tides
© Ivor Wilkins/Offshore Images
As the top scorer, BARKER wins the right to choose his semi-final opponent, but said he would only announce his decision in the morning. DICKSON predicted BARKER would choose APPLETON, leaving the two BMW Oracle Racing teams to fight it out for a place in the final.

Racing today was sailed in a brisk easterly wind, with a strong incoming tide playing a big role.

'There were very few options,' said BARKER. 'You had to get ahead at the start and get to the right side of the track (and out of the tide) as fast as possible. If you didn't get the formula right it was very hard to stay in the race.'

BARKER dropped two matches today by not getting the formula right, the first of which went to the Finnish team led by Staffan LINDBERG. The Finns had been scoreless throughout the regatta and posted their only win by taking the biggest scalp. 'At last,' grinned LINDBERG as they crossed the finish line, with BARKER 10 seconds behind.

All the teams continue racing tomorrow, with the four semi-finalists racing in a best-of-three format, while the remaining six teams race for 5th to 10th place. In the finals on Sunday, the format is a best-of-five series.

Results after two round robins

Dean BARKER (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 15-3
Cameron APPLETON (NZL), 12-6
Bertrand PACE (FRA), BMW Oracle Racing, 12-6
Chris DICKSON (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing, 11-7
Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), 10-8
Ed BAIRD (USA), Alinghi, 8-10
Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), Victory Challenge, 6-12
Sebastian COL (FRA), K-Challenge, 6-12
Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), 1-11

For a complete list of all the news from the Auckland Match Racing Cup CLICK HERE.

Esmee DUNLOP (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Dean BARKER leads Ed BAIRD around the windward mark © Ivor WILKINS/Offshore Images
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