NORDBJERG won the start and led for the first lap. A quarter of the way up the second beat, current ISAF World Match Racing Champion, BAIRD was penalized for luffing with out rights, and it appeared at that point that he was going to be eliminated from the regatta. NORDBJERG handed the race to BAIRD at the top of the beat. With both crews on port and NORDBJERG the windward boat, the Dane sailed down on top of BAIRD to negate the American's penalty.
NORDBJERG was rattled by the penalty. He turned around to argue with the umpires (as BAIRD was, too) and wound up sailing down on top of BAIRD again and hit him. Members of BAIRD's crew said that if NORDBJERG had sheeted on instead of sailing down a second time he would've rounded the windward mark in the lead.
'Match-racing is supposed to be close and exciting, we tried to keep it close and fun for everyone,' said BAIRD. 'They deserved to beat us. We were lucky to win that one. If things stay as they are Peter will beat us (tomorrow). We're going to have to step it up.'
One crew that stepped it up was Coutts Racing. Skipper Russell COUTTS (NZL) was disgusted with his team's performance yesterday in the opening flights of the Group B round robin. They went 1-5 and put themselves in a position where they had to win today's final race to advance to the knockout round. Mission accomplished.
COUTTS and his Danish crew, the event's reigning champions, defeated Iain PERCY (GBR), of Italy's +39 Challenge for the America's Cup, in a light-air match. Then they defeated Jesper RADICH (DEN), of Spain's Desafío Español syndicate, 2-0 in the knockout round. Whereas yesterday they split from their competition when ahead, today they stayed glued on top, never letting their opponent a chance to breath.
Dean BARKER (NZL), of Emirates Team New Zealand, won Group B with a perfect 7-0 record. The two-time Swedish Match Cup champion scored a come-from-behind win against BAIRD in their showdown match for the group win.
BAIRD led at the first windward mark by about 35 seconds in a light easterly wind around 5 knots. But BARKER jibed to starboard and sailed down the middle-right of the leg in a nice puff. When he jibed to port and converged with BAIRD the American used his starboard advantage to hunt BARKER. But it didn't work.
The crews switched sides of the racecourse and when they converged again moments later BARKER crossed ahead and led around the leeward mark. Up the second beat the crews again split sides, with BARKER going hard left and BAIRD hard right. BARKER's side won out and he won the match.
The quarter-final matches are as follows:
Peter HOLMBERG (ISV) - Alinghi, against Kelvin HARRAP (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand
Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) - Victory Challenge, versus Russell COUTTS (NZL)
Dean BARKER (NZL) against Bertrand PACE (FRA)- BMW Oracle Racing
Peter GILMOUR (AUS) - Pizza-La Sailing Team against Ed BARID (USA) - Alinghi