In a thrilling Final Round of the Bermuda Gold Cup, Denmark’s Jesper Radich defeated countryman Jes Gram-Hansen before a large spectator crowd on Hamilton Harbour.
He became the first Scandinavian to claim the coveted King Edward VII Cup of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC). Radich and his crew of Christian Plinius, Peter Poulsen and Andres Kristensen sailed to a victory worth $20,000 and valuable points on the Swedish Match Tour. He is now ranked No. 2 right behind Gram-Hansen after four of the nine events. "We try to work as a team,"
said Radich, moments after accepting the ornate gold prize from RBYC Commodore Les Crane. "We do a lot of racing against Jes and without him I don't think I would have gotten to here."
Today's racing in light and shifty wind put a premium on boathandling in the International One Design (IOD) class yachts and calling the shifts. "In very shifty conditions you'll never win without being lucky,"
In the first race, Radich's team came out strong and led into the start. Approaching the weather mark on split tacks both teams looked even until an advantageous shift on the right side of the course gave Radich the boat speed he needed to lead at the weather mark rounding and around the course to the finish. "As we saw it there was a slight starboard advantage and these boats are so heavy that it take a bit more wind to get them moving,"
Down a race, Gram-Hansen and his Team Victory Lane, charged into the pre-start of race two in a more aggressive mode attempting to pin out Radich at the start behind the race committee boat. "We managed to get better boat speed and into good pressure. From there we tried to reach the right corner and not let him cross us,"
said Gram-Hansen. The Danish team of Kevin McCarthy, Christian Kamp and Michael Arnhild led around the weather mark and to the finish.
With one win each, both skippers stepped up the intensity despite the 5 knots of wind on the racecourse. Gram-Hansen did a great job controlling Radich in the pre-start, but copped a penalty for not keeping clear of Radich's tack. Both sailors charged upwind, but when the split came, Radich sailed into a hole on the right side of the course, while Gram-Hansen lifted to cross in front on the return, giving him a solid lead. After rounding the weather mark, Gram-Hansen extended his lead downwind and then chose to do his penalty turn. Things looked to be going Gram-Hansen's way, but Radich caught a good lift and passed Gram-Hansen to the leeward mark. Radich held onto the lead and another win. "I would've waited to do my turn,"
said Radich about Gram-Hansen's judgement on the turn. "When you're completely split like we were it's hard to say what will happen. We were very happy things worked out the way they did."
The last race saw Radich led off the line and around the course but let a substantial crumble when Gram-Hansen passed him to the windward mark and around. From there Radich tried to gain but couldn't find the pressure he needed. Less than a minute until the finish Radich caught a lucky puff and sailed to victory. "We won the race by calling the puffs well,"
said Radich. "Jesper did a good job keeping our lead close,"
said Gram-Hansen. "We ran out of pressure and they controlled themselves a little better."
In the Petit-Final Round, Bermudian Peter Bromby defeated ISAF World Match Racing Champion Karol Jablonski (POL) in two straight races in the first-to-two series. "It was the same secret we've used all week,"
said Bromby. "Timing and boatspeed."
Next up for the three-time IOD champion is his Star campaign for the 2004 Olympic Games for which he has already qualified Bermuda. "With these boats you have to look for a better start and good boatspeed,"
said Jablonski, who will campaign Team Polska in a 2006 America's Cup campaign. "Peter was better at picking the shifts and had better timing."
1. Jesper Radich/Team Radich (DEN)
2. Jes Gram-Hansen/ Team Victory Lane (DEN)
3. Peter Bromby/Team ACE (BER)
4. Karol Jablonski/Team MK Café (POL)
5. Mikael Lindqvist (SWE)
6. Paula Lewin/Team ACE (BER)
7. Mattias Rahm /Team Stena Bulk (SWE)
8. Staffan Lindberg/Team Musto (FIN)