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18 May 2003, 06:30 pm
Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) Wins Italian Classic
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© Max Ranchi

Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman
Elba

Sweden's Magnus HOLMBERG defeated Australia's James SPITHILL by half a boat length in the fifth and final match to win the ISAF Grade 1 Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman, the sixth event on Swedish Match Tour 2002/2003.
In a long afternoon on Elba's Portoferraio Bay, Holmberg battled shifty conditions, several course changes and occasional ferry boat wakes to earn his fifth win, the most of any skipper, in the three year history of the Swedish Match Tour.

The Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman was developed to showcase the island of Elba and enforce the relationship between Italy and the America's Cup and the championship final, battled between two America's Cup helmsman, Holmberg of Sweden's Victory Challenge and Spithill of the OneWorld Challenge, didn't disappoint.

Down to the final run of the final match, the title was up for grabs. Spithill rounded the windward mark a boat length ahead of Holmberg, but as the boats split, Holmberg found the fresher air. "We had a little bit better breeze on the last run and that made the difference, it was back and forth all day and close all the way until the end."

"It was our crew work that got us through the tough spots," added Holmberg. "I was really impressed with everyone, but Stefan (Rahm) in particular. He hasn't raced in six months because of a knee injury, but he came back this week and did a great job calling tactics for us."

Spithill, while disappointed with the result, was hardly despondent. "The guys did a great job to get us to the finals. We came through the hard way, going the low road through the repechage. It was obviously a close day and some great racing out there."

The runner-up result allowed Spithill to move into second place overall on the Swedish Match Tour 2002/2003 Rankings, 14 points behind Swedish Match Tour leader Jes Gram-Hansen of Team Victory Lane, who finished sixth here this week, and currently has 80 points.

"We're in a good position to try and win the Swedish Match Tour, unfortunately we're only doing two of the last three events, but we're going to try and win those events and if we do, we know we've got a crack at winning the whole Tour," said Spithill.

FINAL STANDINGS

1.Magnus Holmberg, SWE
2.James Spithill, AUS
3.Paolo Cian, ITA
4.Ed Baird, USA
5.Karol Jablonski, POL
6.Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN
7.Luc Pillot, FRA
8.Chris Law, GBR
Shawn McBride/Sail-World.com (As Amended by ISAF News Editor)
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