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15 August 2005, 01:57 pm
BANK Wins On Countback In Denmark
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Danish Open 2005
Skovshoved, Denmark

To the delight of the home crowd in Skovshoved, local hero Jesper BANK won the 9th annual ISAF Grade 1 Danish Open on countback after his final with Gavin BRADY (NZL) had to be suspended at 2-2.
BANK and crew Henrik BLAKSJAER, Thomas JACOBSEN, Mike MOTTL and Jan SCHOEPE of United Internet Team Germany, relied on the fortune of his undefeated first day and a head to head victory over BMW Oracle Racing's (USA) BRADY in flight one, match three last Thursday to secure the title. The first to three points final series ended in a 2-2 tie when the fifth and final flight was abandoned due to lack of wind and the 1600 hours time limit.

'We always seem to get involved in matches that just keep going,' said BANK, who was on the wrong end of a protracted final at the ISAF Grade 1 Match Race Germany in May. 'This was a long day.' Prior to the final, the remaining two flights of semi finals races were sailed.

Mentally taxing rather than physically demanding, the morning started with light winds that waned as the day progressed. The breeze progressively wound round from southwest to the east during the day. Flags hung limp at Shovshoved Harbour. Even the electricity generating wind turbines that pepper the Oresund were shut down.

As a result, the length of the four leg course was made shorter and shorter by the race committee. By the fourth race of the final, the leg length was only four times the start line. Having tried as hard as he could to run a full final, Principal Race Officer Jan SCHLUTER was eventually forced to cut the final short with the score tied 2-2 when the time limit arrived.

Most of the crews at Skovshoved have had half an eye across the Oresund to Malmo, Sweden, where the next Louis Vuitton Acts will be held in two weeks. The ship bringing their America's Cup sloops from Valencia, Spain passed Copenhagen on Saturday and will be unloaded on Monday.

'This sets us up nicely for Malmo,' said BANK. 'It proves when we are in equal equipment we can be competitive with anyone.'

Australian Mike MOTTL, winner at the ISAF Grade 1 Swedish Match Cup in Marstrand four weeks ago with Peter GILMOUR (AUS) before joining United Internet Team Germany, said, 'I've wanted to sail with Jesper for a long time. He's something of a master in light, fluky conditions.'

What gratified BANK was less how he got around the course and more about his starts. 'Gavin is one of the best in the pre-start, so I was pleased that most times I could get the side I wanted,' said the skipper of the German team.

The manner of losing was tough on BRADY but he was upbeat. 'To be tied on 2-2 and having to go back to a race four days ago to split us shows how even the crews were,' he said.

BRADY has sailed like a man with a burden lifted from his shoulders. He accepts the internal tensions of the Chris DICKSON (NZL) led BMW Oracle Racing syndicate have meant the sailing team has underperformed far too often over the past year.

'Everyone knows that there is a lot going on off the water,' said BRADY. 'The difference at this regatta is that I am enjoying my racing again. BMW Oracle Racing is a great team and I came here with a different crew. We had a lot of motivation to show what we are really capable of.'

BRADY won the first race of the final despite incurring a pre-start penalty, proving that BANK was not the only master of the light conditions. 'There are a lot of passing lanes if you hang tough,' said BRADY. 'It's very difficult to defend a lead.'

BANK managed that in the next two races. And he seemed near certain of nailing BRADY in the fourth race when the Kiwi was over the line early and had to re-start. Coming down the fourth leg, BANK's lead was commanding, but he stayed on the seaward of the run right into the corner. When he jibed for the line onto port, he found BRADY had come from 53 seconds behind, down the middle of the course, and across him on starboard jibe. BRADY bore away for line to square the match.

The Danish crowd was as deflated as the wind, but their mood lifted 20 minutes later when racing was abandoned and they realized that BANK was champion after all.

BANK won his final berth thanks to a hair's breadth finish in the deciding fifth semi final race against Dean BARKER's (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand crew. The race committee gave the margin as 20cm.

'It's just depressing. We can't seem to be able to shake the guy,' said BARKER's tactician Terry HUTCHINSON (USA), wondering how BANK bounced back when they thought they had him soundly beaten. It was a sentiment that used to be prevalent when the Soling was in the Olympics. BANK is a hard man to get in front off; even harder to remain there, as BRADY found later.

BARKER's crew had to re-group from their morning loss to face Jochen SCHÜMANN's (GER) Alinghi (SUI) crew for the third and fourth place Petit Final. This went 2-1 to the Alinghi team.

'Of course we are disappointed to miss the final because we felt we were so close,' said SCHÜMANN. 'But this is a good result in terms of developing our squad. Only one of my crew raced with Peter [HOLMBERG (ISV)] in Portugal [the ISAF Grade 1 PTPortugal Match Cup] as we continue to rotate crew. Our goal is to have a squad where every individual can be substituted by another with no loss of competitiveness.'

Final

Jesper BANK (DEN), United Internet Team Germany d. Gavin BRADY (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing (USA), 2-2
(Series decided in favour of BANK on countback due to head-to-head win in flight 1, match 3)

Petit Final

Jochen SCHÜMANN (GER), Alinghi (SUI) d. Dean BARKER (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 2-1

Semi Finals

Gavin BRADY (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing (USA) d. Jochen SCHÜMANN (GER), Alinghi (SUI), 3-2
Jesper BANK (DEN), United Internet Team Germany d. Dean BARKER (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 3-2

5th and 6th Place Sail-Off

Henrik JENSEN (DEN) d. Lars NORDBJERG (DEN), 2-0

7th and 8th Place Sail-Off

Jesper RADICH (DEN), Desafío Español, d. Thierry PEPONNET (FRA), K-Challenge (FRA), 2-0

Danish Open Final Standings

1. Jesper BANK (DEN), United Internet Team Germany, 13-7
2. Gavin BRADY (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing (USA), 12-8
3. Jochen SCHÜMANN (GER), Alinghi (SUI), 13-6
4. Dean BARKER (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 11-8
5. Henrik JENSEN (DEN), Team Jensen, 9-4
6. Lars NORDBJERG (DEN), Team Nordbjaerg, 7-6
7. Jesper RADICH (DEN), Desafio Espanol, 6-7
8. Thierry PEPONNET (FRA), K-Challenge (FRA), 6-7
9. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA), 4-7
10. Chris LAW (GBR), Team Shosholoza (RSA), 4-7
11. Pierre MAS (FRA), China Team, 2-9
12. Flavio FAVINI (ITA), Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), 0-11

Image, Jesper BANK's Team Germany crew is up in arms after winning the Danish Open 2005:© Stephanie Lamy
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