Mid-day showers gave way to sunshine, but the wind vanished with the rain, bringing an early end to quarterfinals racing at the Swedish Match Tour's Swedish Match Cup.
After four flights, three skippers, Team New Zealand's Dean Barker, American Ed Baird of Team Musto and independent amateur Jesper Radich of Denmark all stand at 3-1, atop the leaderboard.
"It was a perfect day today from our perspective, three wins is much more than we had expected," said Radich. "We were very relaxed which is good because it's very important to get off to a good start against such high quality competitors. Also, we like to sail in light conditions, for some reason we do very well."
On his strategy sailing against veteran America's Cup skippers Radich elaborated, "We're trying to sail clever and fast and use the knowledge we have of the boats. From racing them up in Copenhagen we know what the boats can do and how they will react in different situations. This knowledge definitely gave us some additional meters in our races and was especially valuable in our match with Jes (Gram-Hansen) which came down to a jibing duel."
Despite placid conditions, quarterfinal action got off to an exciting start just after 10am with subplots aplenty being played out in Flight 1. Barker made a statement against his former boss Russell Coutts as the young Kiwi skipper easily dispatched the Alinghi Team. Likewise, Oracle Racing's Peter Holmberg demonstrated why he's the world's best match racer, in any conditions, by sailing away from American Ed Baird, handing Team Musto their only loss on the day.
Meanwhile, Jes Gram-Hansen made a statement against local favorite Magnus Holmberg and Team SeaLife that the young Danes were on his tail for second place overall on the Swedish Match Tour. Gram-Hansen built a significant lead over the SeaLifers on the first lap around the course but Magnus chipped away, pulling even on the second weather mark rounding. The two then engaged in a jibing duel to the line, with protest flags waving, before Gram-Hansen nosed his DS 37 across just before Magnus.
Unfortunately for Gram-Hansen it would be his only win on the day as he suffered tough losses to Coutts and Baird before dropping his final match to Radich, winner of the recent Match Race Germany, in the all Danish match.
In a surprising result, Alinghi Team's Russell Coutts, Victory Challenge's Magnus Holmberg and his SeaLife Match Race Team and Gram-Hansen of Victory Lane Racing all sit at the bottom of the leaderboard on one win.
The Swedish Match Cup resumes Friday at 9:30am with Flight 5 of the round robin quarterfinals.
For all the latest news from the Swedish Match Tour log on to www.swedishmatchtour.com.
Skipper Wins Losses
1. Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto 3 1
2. Dean Barker, Team New Zealand 3 1
3. Jesper Radich, Denmark 3 1
4. Bertrand Pace, Team New Zealand 2 2
5. Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing 2 2
6. Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Victory Lane 1 3
7. Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team SeaLife 1 3
8. Russell Coutts, Alinghi Team 1 3
Radich def. Pace
P. Holmberg def. Baird
Gram-Hansen def. Holmberg
Barker def. Coutts
Baird def. Pace
Barker def. M. Holmberg
Radich def. P. Holmberg
Coutts def. Gram-Hansen
M. Holmberg def. P. Holmberg
Barker def. Radich
Pace def. Coutts
Baird def. Gram-Hansen
P. Holmberg def. Coutts
Radich def. Gram-Hansen
Baird def. Barker
Pace def. Holmberg