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25 January 2006, 10:04 am
Kiwis Lead On Home Patch
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Auckland Match Racing Cup 2006
Auckland, New Zealand

Two New Zealand skippers top the leaderboard after Auckland's Waitemata Harbour dished up challenging racing conditions in the first day of the ISAF Grade 1 Auckland Match Racing Cup regatta. Emirates Team New Zealand's crew, led by Dean BARKER, finished today with five wins and one loss, as did New Zealander Cameron APPLETON, who recently excelled in the New Zealand Match Racing Championship.
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The Auckland Match Racing Cup, hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, sees a line up of ten top international teams coming to Auckland to compete in the first ISAF Grade 1 match race contest held in New Zealand for four years.

Racing got underway today in the aftermath of a north easterly gale which swept the city yesterday, causing widespread damage and preventing the teams from taking advantage of the only practice day.

Today's conditions saw racing begin in a north easterly breeze and end in a south westerly breeze, while strong tides and clumps of kelp, dislodged in the storm, created additional challenges for the racing teams.

Tough Conditions

'Conditions were tough,' said Chris DICKSON, the other New Zealand skipper in the line up.

DICKSON, who skippers the BMW Oracle Racing America's Cup team, ended day one win on 4-2, which he described as a satisfactory result given the challenges.

'There were definitely no easy races out there,' he said.

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Sebastian COL faces off against Ian
WILLIAMS
© Ivor WILKINS/Offshore Images
Terry HUTCHINSON (USA), tactician for Emirates Team New Zealand, was also pleased with the team's work.

'Dean did a nice job in the pre-starts. In three out of six starts we left the line a couple of lengths ahead of the opposition. That makes it nice and easy. The wind and tide were tricky, but just as challenging was avoiding the kelp.'

If the weed lodges around the keels or rudders, it can slow the yachts significantly and HUTCHINSON said the teams had to make huge course alterations to avoid getting snagged.

APPLETON On Form

APPLETON was thrilled with his 5-1 result. 'We wanted to start the regatta well, with as few mistakes as possible. We concentrated on doing the simple things well.'

Through the course of the opening day, APPLETON's team beat former World Champion Bertrand PACE (FRA), Alinghi helmsman Ed BAIRD (USA) and DICKSON.

Despite that defeat PACE was still in high spirits saying, 'We got some big scalps today, but we are well aware that there is still a long way to go. The level of sailing in this event is very high, so we must just keep focussed and chip away.'

Making a big impression in the early running was Frenchman Mathieu RICHARD, who took three America's Cup scalps with wins over Victory Challenge's Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) and BMW Oracle Racing's DICKSON and PACE to notch up a 4-2 record.

Racing continues tomorrow. The regatta features a double round robin format, followed by semi finals on Saturday and the final on Sunday.

Auckland Match Racing Cup Standings

1. Dean BARKER (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 5-1
1. Cameron APPLETON (NZL), K-Challenge, 5-1
3. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), 4-2
4. Chris DICKSON (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing, 4-2
5. Bertrand PACE (FRA), BMW Oracle Racing, 3-3
6. Sebastian COL (FRA), K-Challenge, 3-3
7. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), 3-3
8. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), Victory Challenge, 2-4
9. Ed BAIRD (USA), Alinghi, 1-5
10. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), 0-6

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

Esmee DUNLOP (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Kiwis Chris DICKSON and Cameron APPLETON go head to head:© Ivor WILKINS/Offshore Images
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