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21 August 2005, 10:36 pm
BAIRD New King Of The Mountain
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St. Moritz Match Race 2005
St Mortiz, Switzerland

Ed BAIRD (USA) captured the ISAF Grade 1 St. Moritz Match Race today, adding a third ISAF Graded event victory to his credit for this year. BAIRD from St. Petersburg, Florida, USA and his crew of Mike DRUMMOND and Nils FREI, members of America's Cup syndicate Alinghi, defeated Mark MENDELBLATT 3-0 in the final.
BAIRD and crew also won approximately $28,000 of the approximately $117,000 prize purse.

The final was sailed in a light north/northeasterly wind between 5 and 8 knots. A steady rain fell and the air temperature hovered between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It left the crews shaking from coldness as they disembarked the Streamline 7.15s.

'I'm a lot colder than I've ever been in Florida,' said the 47-year-old BAIRD.

MENDELBLATT, sailing with Dan SLATER and Ed SMYTH, had been the two-time champion of St. Moritz Match Race. Each time he defeated a crew from Alinghi. But this year he couldn't overcome his hometown mentor. 'There's a lot I can point to,' said MENDELBLATT, 'but the main thing is Ed sailed very well and his crew was hungry. They were better at every position and I think my crew will agree.'

AINSLIE, sailing with Andy HEMMINGS and Andy MACLEAN, scored 10 points for placing fifth overall. Coupled with the 20 points he earned for finishing second in Portugal last month he has 30 points and leads by 1 point. Peter Holmberg (ISV), Alinghi, is second with 29 points after placing eighth in St. Moritz.

In the Petit Final, Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team, successfully executed a penalty turn at the beginning of the second beat in Race 3 and held on to defeat Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Musto, 2-1. LINDBERG won approximately $14,000 and WILLIAMS $11,700.

MENDELBLATT had a couple of opportunities in the final, but continued to have trouble at the windward mark. He had great boatspeed all week, but had real troubles at the mark roundings. He rounded the windward mark ahead of BAIRD twice, but the veteran match-racer was able to beat the newcomer in a jibe to starboard each time, which proved to be a big advantage.

'There wasn't any great advantage going onto the new jibe, but when we were just behind a couple of times and Mark started to jibe, I knew that if we jibed there we'd roll him and at least we'd have the inside side of things towards the mark,' Baird said. 'In light air that's pretty valuable.'

'It's frustrating to get passed like that,' Mendelblatt said. 'It's tough in light air to have good sets and keep the spinnaker full in jibes. They were smoother with the spinnaker work and that was the difference.'

Event Media, Image: Ed Baird (far right) and his Team, Nils Frei and Mike Drummond © Event Media
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