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8 July 2002, 07:59 am
Barker Defeat Coutts in Three Straight Matches
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© Dan Ljungsvik

Swedish Match Race Cup

Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker defeated former syndicate head Russell Coutts, his onetime mentor and now leader of the rival Swiss Alinghi Challenge, 3-0, in the finals of the Swedish Match Cup, Swedish Match Tour 2001/2's final event.
"To be honest we were happy to be in the semifinals here this week after finishing thirteenth last year," confessed Barker.

Commenting on the day's action, Barker stated, "It was one of those days when you just needed to trust yourself. When you get a little bit of a lead in these conditions its tough for your opponent to catch up. Luckily, things went our way and we were able to protect our leads."

This is Barker's second win in Marstrand in the last three years. His victory today not only upset Coutts' chance at defending his title but also moved Barker into sixth place on the final Swedish Match Tour rankings and earned the Kiwi skipper and his crew of Hamish Pepper, Tony Rae, James Dagg and Chris Ward a US$15,000 share of the US$200,000 total purse.

The win here is Barker's first of Swedish Match Tour 2001/2. He had previously finished second to Sweden's Magnus Holmberg at last July's Trofeo Challenge Roberto Trombini Cup in Ravenna, Italy, finished ninth in March's Steinlager Line 7 Cup on his home waters and eighth in April's Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA, in the United States.

Recapping the day's action, in the first flight Coutts copped a penalty when the two were head-to-wind on the final countdown and he tacked through. As a result, Coutts found himself with very poor boat speed off the start while Barker pulled ahead and quickly powered up. From there Barker sailed a conservative match making sure not to give Coutts any openings to engage him and force an off-setting penalty.

In Flight 2, Coutts came out very aggressive, hunting Barker around the start area. When the gun sounded the two competitors took off on a split tack off the line with Barker heading to the left. The first cross found Barker slightly ahead with the young Kiwi only having a boat length lead at the first rounding. A tacking duel on the second upwind leg saw Barker bounce Coutts away from the right side of the course. On the final leg Coutts closed on Barker, but Barker maintained control and was able to keep enough clear air to hold off Coutts and go up 2-0.

In the final match both skippers started on the starboard tack and quickly tacked with Barker able to hold Coutts off all the way up the left side of the course with Barker enjoying a one boat length lead at the windward mark rounding. From there Barker sailed a flawless match eventually building to a five boat length lead to earn line honors.

In the petit finals American Ed Baird and his Team Musto won a grueling five match final over Bertrand Pace of Team New Zealand. Baird won the first match only to see Pace come back to win the next two. The American, a former world match racing champion, delved deep into his bag of tricks to take the final two matches and the third place overall.

Sail-offs for places 5-8 were completed in the morning. Peter Holmberg of the Oracle Racing team defeated Denmark's Jesper Radich 2-1, to claim fifth place in the event while local favorite Magnus Holmberg and his Team SeaLife swept past Denmark's Jes Gram-Hansen and his Team Victory Lane 2-0.

Pace may have been disappointed in his result this week but his fourth place finish here, combined with his runner-up result at May's ACI HT Cronet Cup in Split, Croatia, moved him onto the final Swedish Match Tour rankings and allowed him to grab the eighth spot and the $10,000 prize that accompanies it.

Fantastic conditions graced the regatta's final day. Competitors and the tens of thousands of spectators gathered on the rocks were treated to bright, sunny skies and a westerly wind of 12 knots.

Swedish Match Tour 2002/3 kicks off Wednesday in Ravenna, Italy at the Trofeo Challenge Robertyo Trombini Match.

Swedish Match Tour Final Rankings
Skipper Points Prize Money Share
1. Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing 120 US$60,000
2. Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team Sealife 86 $40,000
3. Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Victory Lan 79 $25,000
4. Gavin Brady, Prada Challenge 62 $20,000
5. Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto 50 $18,000
6. Dean Barker, Team New Zealand 49 $15,000
7. Jesper Radich, Denmark 41 $12,000
8. Bertrand Pace, Team New Zealand 32 $10,000

Final Swedish Match Cup Results Overall
Skipper, Team
1. Dean Barker, Team New Zealand
2. Russell Coutts, Alinghi Team
3. Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto
4. Bertrand Pace, Team New Zealand
5. Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing
6. Jesper Radich, Denmark
7. Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team SeaLife
8. Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Victory Lane
9. Jesper Bank, Victory Challenge
10. Karol Jablonski, POL/Team MK Cafe

Barker def. Coutts
Barker def. Coutts
Barker def. Coutts

Baird def. Pace (DSQ)
Pace def. Baird

Sail-off for 5&6
Radich def. P. Holmberg
P. Holmberg def. Radich

Sail-off for 7&8
M. Holmberg def. Gram-Hansen
M. Holmberg def. Gram-Hansen
Shawn McBride/ISAF Secretariat
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