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20 August 2005, 09:56 am
Semi-Finalist Line-Up Confirmed
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St. Moritz Match Race 2005
St. Mortiz, Switzerland

Ben AINSLIE (GBR) and Ed BAIRD (USA) stood outside the Sailing Club of St. Moritz as a light rain fell on a chilly evening last night. No other competitors were around, and they wouldn't have been there if there wasn't an umpires' meeting that had a direct affect on their regatta.
The umpiress weren't deciding a protest. Rather they were discussing the wording of a phrase in the Sailing Instructions. At stake was a place in the Semifinal Round of St. Moritz Match Race or a place in the sail off for fifth and sixth. Someone was going to be disappointed, and in the end it was Ainslie.

Baird advanced to the next round along with Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Staffan LINDBERG (FIN) and Mark MENDELBLATT (USA). In tomorrow's semis, Williams will race MENDELBLATT and LINDBERG will race BAIRD. Each match is a first to 2 points series.

The four moved on after a complicated ending to Round Robin C, which featured the top three finishers from the Group A and B rounds robin. In a bizarre circumstance, five of the six crews finished Round C tied with 3-2 records.

Current leader of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, Peter GILMOUR (AUS), at 0-5, was the only one left out of the mix.

The situation became further complicated when the five were put in a head-to-head matrix. They all scored 2 points. Since the tie was unbreakable, the sailing instructions stipulated that the results of the pre-round fleet race would break the tie. The St. Moritz Match Race features a fleet race prior to every round robin in case such a scenario arises.

WILLIAMS won the fleet race, followed by LINDBERG, BAIRD, MENDELBLATT, AINSLIE and GILMOUR.

The discussion centred on the wording in the sailing instructions. Sailing Instruction 1.5 amends Rule C11.1(d) of the Racing Rules of Sailing. The key phrase says '(d) placed in order, has the higher place in that Round Robin's fleet race.'

Some felt that meant that after the winner was determined the remaining order would be decided on head-to-head results. Others felt it meant the results of the fleet race would determine the final order of the round.

Chief Umpire Marianne Middelthon emerged from the meeting with the news.

'We've decided, based on the wording in Sailing Instruction 1.5, that it tells us to use the results of the fleet race to break all the ties, and not to pick one out and go back to head-to-head match-ups,' she said.

BAIRD agreed with MIDDLETHON's decision.

'When I looked at the book it's what I thought was correct,' he said. 'You don't take the top out and then go back and resolve the rest on head-to-head. The fleet race completely breaks the tie.'

It was a complicated ending to what was otherwise an entertaining round robin. Sailing in a shifty southerly wind, there were penalties that added losses to scorelines and wind shifts that produced more come-from-behind victories. GILMOUR even went shrimping at one leeward mark when his crew couldn't get the spinnaker aboard quickly enough.

Having five of six crews end in a tie is unprecedented. For AINSLIE, it was another tough loss.

'I'm not very happy with that,' said AINSLIE, who lamented the fact that he's been on the wrong end of too many tiebreakers this year. Ainslie was eliminated in a similar tiebreaker at the ISAF Grade 1 Toscana Elba Cup on Elba Island earlier this year.

Kirsten Bollinger (As Amended by ISAF)
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