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24 July 2005, 10:17 am
Semi Finals Underway
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PTPortugal Match Cup 2005
Cascais, Portugal

The semi final round of the ISAF Grade 1 PTPortugal Match Cup was suspended yesterday evening after two intense flights. Ben AINSLIE (GBR) holds a 2-0 lead in his match against Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN), whilst Peter HOLMBERG (ISV) and number one sailor in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, Peter GILMOUR (AUS), are tied 1-1.
HOLMBERG, the 1988 Olympic silver medallist in the Finn, protested the race committee after his first match with GILMOUR. HOLMBERG protested because he believed that GILMOUR was scored a finisher when he did not start properly.

The protest arose out of the start of their first match. Late in the sequence GILMOUR tacked to port close to HOLMBERG, who was on starboard. HOLMBERG had to tack to port and bear away to keep clear. The umpires gave GILMOUR a red flag penalty, meaning he had to do his 270 degree penalty turn immediately.

GILMOUR then tacked back to starboard but was an early starter and had to restart. He bore away on starboard and jibed to port to clear the line, which he felt cleared the penalty.

HOLMBERG, after bearing away on port to get room to tack back to starboard, hit the stern of the committee boat while tacking. He was penalized for hitting the committee boat.

GILMOUR got a second penalty because the umpires felt he should not have gotten an advantage out of the incident. He did a second turn at the finish and won the race, but HOLMBERG felt that the turn at the start was not proper because he had not officially started the race after being over early.

HOLMBERG protested the committee over GILMOUR's finish, but it appears that the umpires may have added to the confusion by not properly signaling the penalties. The International Jury heard the testimony and decided to disallow the protest.

The second start between the two was as exciting as the first. GILMOUR had HOLMBERG tucked outside the committee boat end, but did not close him out. He peeled away to start one second too early, which gave HOLMBERG slimmest margin to squeeze through and win the start, leaving GILMOUR gasping for wind on the start line.

'I think there was one inch on either side,' said HOLMBERG. 'The starts with GILMOUR are always exciting.'

AINSLIE, a double Olympic gold medallist, showed great poise in the start box to open his 2-0 lead on GRAM-HANSEN.

In the first race he won the boat end and got to the right hand side of the racecourse where he found great puffs to open a big lead at the windward mark. In the second race he was farther down the line with GRAM-HANSEN closer to the boat end, but was able to tack to port and found a lifting puff inside of GRAM-HANSEN.

'My starting has come on a lot this season,' AINSLIE said. 'There are still some scenarios I'm trying to figure out, but if you can get off the line even it's anybody's race because of the shifts.'

Like yesterday, the wind was very shifty. Blowing from a bit east of north, it was shifting through 25 to 40 degrees, with the strength ranging anywhere from six to 20 knots, depending on the puff and the location on the racecourse.

'That was some shifty stuff,' said GILMOUR. 'It was crazy.'

'My team did a good job picking the breeze, Ray especially' AINSLIE said of tactician Ray DAVIES. 'We tried to sail as fast as we could. It seemed to work for us.'

HOLMBERG echoed the speed first thinking. 'Our plan was to not look at him, just look at the mark and sail the shifts, not the competition,' HOLMBERG said. 'It's open minded sailing in this condition, not match racing.'

In racing for fifth through eighth, Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), beat Chris LAW (GBR) to capture fifth. LAW finished sixth. Bertrand PACÉ (FRA) finished seventh after beating Michael DUNSTAN (AUS), who placed eighth.

Semi Finals

Peter HOLMBERG (ISV) vs. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), 1-1
Ben AINSLIE (GBR) vs. Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN), 2-0

Quarter Finals

Peter HOLMBERG (ISV) d. Michael DUNSTAN (AUS), 2-0
Peter GILMOUR (AUS) d. Bertrand PACÉ (FRA), 2-0
Ben AINSLIE (GBR) d. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), 2-1
Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN) d. Chris LAW (GBR), 2-0

Sean McNeill (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Ben AINSLIE (left) luffs Staffan LINDBERG near the finish of their third quarter final match:© Stephanie Lamy
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