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6 July 2002, 07:50 am
Dean Barker Is Top Qualifier
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Hansen vs Holmberg © Dan Ljungsvik

Swedish Match Race Cup

Team New Zealand boss Dean Barker and helmsman Bertrand Pace lead the four qualifiers for the Swedish Match Tour 2001/2's final event, the Swedish Match Cup semifinals.
Barker accumulated the most points among the quarterfinalists, 15, to establish himself as the top qualifier while Pace chalked up 12 to finish second.

"Today's result was due to excellent teamwork because I wasn't starting very well," said Barker. "The crew work was fantastic and it got us back into a couple of races that we lost the start on."

Emerging from a four-way log-jam on 10 points to claim the final two spots are defending Swedish Match Cup champion Russell Coutts of the Alinghi Team and American Ed Baird and his Team Musto crew who each advanced on countback over Swedish Match Tour 2001/2 champion Peter Holmberg of Oracle Racing and Danish amateur Jesper Radich.

"It was a great, but long day of racing," sighed Coutts. "The standard of match racing has risen incredibly. It was clearly much higher today and as a result some very worthy teams are going home."

In a formatting twist, the Swedish Match Cup awarded one point per victory for the first quarterfinal round robin and two points per victory in the second round. As a result, the stakes jumped significantly in the second round allowing for early missteps in boat handling to be corrected or, in worse case scenarios, late errors to be compounded.

Barker is neither a stranger to success nor disappointment in Sweden. After a dramatic win against Pace in the 2000 Swedish Match Cup final expectations were high entering last year's Swedish Match Cup for Barker and his Kiwi mates. However, with a 13th place finish last July they were clearly not met.

This year has been a distinctly different story as Barker seems to have regained his touch with the DS 37 Match Racers as well as his instincts for the tricky winds on Marstrand southern inlet. Today alone, the Kiwi skipper won seven matches including six in a row to demonstrate his mastery.

Adding to his satisfaction on reaching the semifinals, no doubt, is his 2-0, record against former Team New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts the last two days. Barker got off to an impressive early start in the second quarterfinals round today by winning his match against the head of the Alinghi Team.

The win wasn't without drama however as Barker crossed the line early at the start. Barker decided to immediately execute his penalty turn before heading up the first beat. At the first mark rounding Barker caught a shift off the far end of the island and went to the right side of the course with Coutts choosing the left. When the two came back together on the first crossing Barker had pulled even and from there it was a head-to-head race around the course before Barker nipped Coutts at the line.

Additionally, Barker knocked off Pace in both of their matches on the day to earn in-house bragging rights at the Team New Zealand compound on Halsey Street in Auckland.

For local favorite Magnus Holmberg it was another disappointing Swedish Match Cup. Holmberg finished in eighth place with eight points in failing yet again to win his hometown regatta.

"Both yesterday and today we were struggling with all sorts of things - tough starts, penalties, mark roundings - and as soon as we sorted one problem out another one popped up," said Holmberg. "We're a bit disappointed it didn't go the way we wanted but the teams that are going through sailed much better than us."

Magnus and his crew of Lars Linger, Stefan Rahm, Magnus Augusston and Mikail Rossberg are not going home empty-handed, however. Their eighth place finish here, combined with Jes Gram-Hansen and his Team Victory Lane's seventh place finish, allowed the Swedes to claim the second place overall position on Swedish Match Tour 2001/2 and with it the US$40,000 share of the prize purse. Gram-Hansen finishes in third and he and his crew will receive US$25,000 as a reward for their success over the past 12 months.

Peter Holmberg and Oracle Racing, who had previously clinched the overall Swedish Match Tour 2001/2 championship, finished fifth here this week and will likewise receive their US$60,000 first prize at Sunday evening's closing ceremony.

With winds blowing to 25 knots, competitors were greeted with vastly different conditions today than they had experienced earlier in the regatta. Ten quarterfinal flights left the crews ragged and worn but for the four who advanced a warm dinner and a good nights sleep will be more than enough to gird them for the semifinal battle ahead.

The Swedish Match Cup semifinals will commence today.

Overall Leaderboard (Points from RR1 + Points from RR2)
Skipper Points
1. Dean Barker, Team New Zealand 15
2. Bertand Pace, Team New Zealand 12
3. Russell Coutts, Alinghi Team 10
4. Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto 10
5. Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing 10
6. Jesper Radich, Denmark 10
7. Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Victory Lane 9
8. Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team SeaLife 8

Quarterfinals Round Robin 2 Leaderboard
Skipper Wins Losses Points
1. Dean Barker , Team New Zealand 5 2 10
2. Bertrand Pace, Team New Zealand 5 2 10
3. Russell Coutts, Alinghi Team 4 3 8
4. Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing 3 4 6
5. Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team SeaLife 3 4 6
6. Jes Gram Hansen, DEN/Team Victory Lane 3 4 6
7. Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto 2 4 4
8. Jesper Radich, Denmark 3 4 6

Quarterfinals Round Robin 2 Results - 2 Points Per Win
Flight 1
Pace def. Radich
Baird def. P. Holmberg
Gram-Hansen def. M. Holmberg
Barker def. Coutts

Flight 2
Pace def. Baird
Barker def, M. Holmberg (DNF)
P. Holmberg def. Radich
Coutts def. Gram-Hansen

Flight 3
M. Holmberg def. P. Holmberg
Barker def. Radich
Pace def. Coutts
Baird def. Gram-Hansen

Flight 4
Coutts def. P. Holmberg
Radich def. Gram-Hansen
Barker def. Baird
Pace def. M. Holmberg

Flight 5
Coutts def. Baird
Gram-Hansen def. Pace
P. Holmberg def. Barker
Radich def. M. Holmberg

Flight 6
P. Holmberg def. Gram-Hansen
Barker def. Pace
M. Holmberg def. Baird
Coutts def. Radich

Flight 7
Gram-Hansen def. Barker
M. Holmberg def. Coutts
Radich def. Baird
Pace def. P. Holmberg

Quarterfinals Round Robin 1 Leaderboard
Skipper Wins Losses Points
1. Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto 6 1 6
2. Dean Barker, Team New Zealand 5 2 5
3. Jesper Radich, Denmark 4 3 4
4. Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing 4 3 4
5. Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Victory Lane 3 4 3
6. Bertrand Pace, Team New Zealand 2 5 2
7. Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team SeaLife 2 5 2
8. Russell Coutts, Alinghi Team 2 5 2

Quarterfinals Round Robin 1 Results - 1 Point Per Win
Flight 5
Baird def. Coutts
Gram-Hansen def. Pace
P. Holmberg def. Barker
Radich def. M. Holmberg (DNF)

Flight 6
Gram-Hansens def. P. Holmberg
Barker def. Pace
Baird def. M. Holmberg (DNF)
Coutts def. Radich

Flight 7
Barker def. Gram-Hansen
M. Holmberg def. Coutts (DNF)
Baird def. Radich
P. Holmberg def. Pace (DNF)

Shawn McBride/ISAF Secretariat
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