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28 October 2006, 02:21 pm
BAIRD Snatches Group B Win From CIAN
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Allianz Cup 2006
San Francisco, USA

Alinghi's Ed BAIRD (USA) won the Group B round robin at the ISAF Grade WC Allianz Cup Presented by Oracle in San Francisco, USA. The American skipper edged out world number two Paolo CIAN (ITA) to top their group in stage 5 of the 2006-07 World Match Racing Tour.
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BAIRD won all three of his matches on Friday and finished with a 6-1 record. BAIRD tied for the win with CIAN of Team Viano Mercedes Benz - Shosholoza. CIAN led on Thursday at 4-0, but his lone loss was to BAIRD in flight 5 which gave BAIRD the win.

'It was pretty light,' said BAIRD, the only skipper to finish in the Championship 8 every Tour season. 'There was some current. The current was changing, and each race was different. That was part of the difficulty, to be comfortable with that. Especially in the starting area, it seemed to be quite different than on the racecourse. My guys did a great job of reading that and timing to the line. It gave me a lot of confidence to be in right place in the starts. We got ahead and stayed there today.'

BAIRD's timing was the difference in the pre-start against CIAN in flight 5.

'They did an incredible job of time and distance to the line and were able to push us up and out of the line,' said CIAN. 'So the race was probably over at the beginning. I think we were pretty happy with six wins out of seven races. It's just the way you read it.'

GILMOUR And BANK Also Through To Quarters

Jesper BANK (DEN), skipper of United Internet Team Germany, finished third at 5-2 and Peter GILMOUR (AUS), the reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champion, was fourth at 4-3.

They advance to Saturday's quarter-final round, which features some very intriguing matches. BAIRD will face Chris DICKSON (NZL), skipper and CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing. CIAN races Ben AINSLIE (GBR), a helmsman for Emirates Team New Zealand. BANK takes on Peter HOLMBERG (ISV), another helmsman for Alinghi, and GILMOUR goes against Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), the current leader of the World Championship standings.

The winner of each match is the first to 3 points. The quarter-finals will be broadcast live on the Internet tomorrow at www.Sail.tv. The webcast is scheduled to begin at 10:30 local time, weather permitting.

The light winds from the north inhibited the completion of more racing on Friday. The wind blew mostly between 6 and 8 knots, but died away in the afternoon which forced racing to be abandoned after Group B finished its round robin.

ELLISON Out...

The event moves on to the quarter-finals without arguably its biggest attraction, Larry ELLISON (USA). The CEO of Oracle and founder of the BMW ORACLE Racing team fell to 0-5 before closing out with two wins. He finished with a 2-5 record and in sixth place in the group.

'Actually, we're kind of pleased with sixth place,' ELLISON said to a packed press conference at the St Francis Yacht Club. 'Let's here it for sixth place!'

ELLISON said he had not raced in J/105s before but enjoyed the regatta. He said that Thursday was a very humbling experience sailing in a cross current.

'It is very difficult and tricky sailing in a cross current,' ELLISON said. 'And sailing against this calibre of skipper and these quality teams, it's quite astonishing how good they are at what they do. It was just an honour for me to be out amongst them.'

...But Maybe Back For Malaysia

The Allianz Cup may not be ELLISON's last World Tour event. He received an impromptu invitation to stage 6, the ISAF Grade WC Monsoon Cup in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, from GILMOUR, the event's technical director.

'Just yesterday I got word that Russell COUTTS [(NZL)] is unavailable to come because he doesn't have a crew,' said GILMOUR. 'So Larry, there's an opening for you. It's known as the world's richest event in sailing with a one million ringet [$275,000] prize money.'

'Are you serious?' replied ELLISON.

'I guess that's a yes,' GILMOUR concluded.

Saturday's schedule calls for the quarter-finals to begin at 10:00. The Race Committee also hopes to sail the semi-finals in the afternoon.

Allianz Cup Results

Round Robin Standings

Group A
(After 7 of 7 flights)

1. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Pindar, 5-2
2. Peter HOLMBERG (ISV), Alinghi, 5-2
3. Ben AINSLIE (GBR), Emirates Team New Zealand, 5-2
4. Chris DICKSON (NZL), BMW ORACLE Racing, 4-3
5. Johnie BERNTSSON (SWE), Berntsson Sailing Team, 4-3
6. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team, 2-5
7. Chris PERKINS (USA), Team St Francis Yacht Club, 2-5
8. Björn HANSEN (SWE), Team Apport.net, 1-6

Group B
(After 7 of 7 flights)

1. Ed BAIRD (USA), Alinghi, 6-1
2. Paolo CIAN (ITA), Team Viano Mercedes Benz - Shosholoza, 6-1
3. Jesper BANK (DEN), United Internet Team Germany, 5-2
4. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), PST, 4-3
5. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), Saba Sailing Team, 2-5
6. Larry ELLISON (USA), BMW ORACLE Racing, 2-5
7. Brian ANGEL (USA), King Harbour Match Race, 2-5
8. Cameron DUNN (NZL), Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia, 1-6

World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard
(After Stage 4 of 15)
Pos Skipper Nation ISAF World
Match Race
Ranking
Team Pts
1 Ian WILLIAMS GBR 4 Williams Sail Racing 35
2 Mathieu RICHARD FRA 6 Saba Sailing Team 30
3

Sébastien COL

FRA 1 Areva Challenge 29
4 Jes GRAM-HANSEN DEN 24 Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia 27
5 Paolo CIAN ITA 2 Team Viano Mercedes Benz 25
5 Chris DICKSON NZL 5 BMW ORACLE Racing 25
7 Staffan LINDBERG FIN 9 Alandia Sailing Team 16
8 Ed BAIRD USA 22 Alinghi 20
8 Jesper BANK DEN 57 United Internet Team Germany 20
8 Magnus HOLMBERG SWE 42 Victory Challenge 20

World Match Racing Tour Schedule
(2006-2007 Season)

Stage Event Venue Date
Stage 1 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal 18-23 July 2006
Stage 2 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark 9-13 August 2006
Stage 3 St. Moritz Match Race St. Moritz, Switzerland 15-20 August 2006
Stage 4 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda 10-15 October 2006
Stage 5 Allianz Cup San Francisco, USA 24-29 October
Stage 6 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 28 November-3 December 2006
Stage 7 Match Race Germany Langenargen, Germany 23-28 May 2007
Stage 8 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal July 2007
Stage 9 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark August 2007
Stage 10 St Moritz Match Race St. Moritz, Switzerland August 2007
Stage 11 ACI Adris Match Race Cup Rovinj, Croatia September 2007
Stage 12 Locman Cup - Elba Island Porto Azzurro, Elba Island, Italy September 2007
Stage 13 Brasil Sailing Cup Angra dos Reis, Brazil October 2007
Stage 14 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda October 2007
Stage 15 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 20 November-2 December 2007

The World Match Racing Tour is an ISAF Special Event. Skippers earn points towards the World Championship at the nine events of the World Tour and the highest scoring skipper at the end of the season is the ISAF Match Racing World Champion.

The World Tour Partner and Official Car is BMW AG (Munich, Germany). World Tour sponsors include Sebago (Rockford, USA), the Official Footwear Supplier, Travel Places (West Sussex, Great Britain), the Official Travel Partner and Wedgwood (Cheshire, Great Britain) the Official Trophy Supplier.

For more information on the World Match Racing Tour, its competitors and events, visit the official World Tour website - www.WorldMatchRacingTour.com. World Match Racing Tour television programmes may be viewed on demand by clicking on the television icon on the home page of the website.

For all the news on the World Match Racing Tour CLICK HERE.

Sean MCNEILL (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Ed BAIRD was the main man in San Francisco on Friday:© Allianz Cup/Paul Todd/outsideimages.co.nz
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