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28 May 2003, 10:03 am
Spithill and Gram-Hansen Lead
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Day One

ACI HTMobileCup
Split

The wind has, as always in sailing, determined the first day of races at the ISAF Grade 1 ACI HTmobile Cup. The day began with a two hour delay and when the first flight got underway just after 1:00 local time, the wind was NW, between 10 and 15 knots.
The liveliest matches of the day came from Chris Law's team, "The Outlaws." In their first match they were dispatched by young Australian America's Cup helm, James SPITHILL, after a neck and neck match. During this, Law's team caught a penalty due to an overlap infringement. They were luckier in the second flight when they picked up a small gust to roll past Italy's Paolo CIAN of the Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team on the first run.

A surprise result in the second flight, held in much the same conditions as the first, came when Allan COUTTS dispatched former Swedish Match Tour winner and victor at the last Swedish Match Tour event in Elba, Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE). Coutts, who has a famous uncle in Alinghi skipper and triple America's Cup winner, Russell COUTTS, is representing Alinghi and four of his five crew were part of the winning America's Cup team. The fifth, Bruce CURSON, campaigned a 49er with Coutts during the Sydney Olympics.

"It's a great opportunity to put into practice some of the skills we learned sailing with Russell, Brad and Jochen during the Cup," commented Coutts, for whom the ACI HTmobile Cup is his first ever event on the Swedish Match Tour.

The third and final flight yesterday saw a massive windshift as an ugly black squall passed over the fleet doubling the wind strength in a matter of seconds. In his match against Swedish Match Tour leader Jes Gram HANSEN of Team Victory Lane, Coutts said that they had been behind off the line and when the shift came through it became a case of "following my leader".

The drama also returned with "The Outlaws" sailing against Poland's Karol JABLONSKI.

In a protest-laden match, Dobbs DAVIS, tactician for "The Outlaws," described the decisive moment following the big shift. "He took his spinnaker down and put his jib up and our Croatian guys did a great job of flying the spinnaker on a close reach, so we rolled over Karol." At this point the Outlaws had a protest outstanding. They just managed to rid themselves of the penalty prior to crossing the finish line. "We had to tack, bear away and then gybe to get to the line - we had to do a full 360," said Davis. "But the wind was blowing so strong that we couldn't turn. We only just got around. That was a nervous moment."

The two teams showing form at the end of the first day of the ACI HTmobile Cup are James SPITHILL and Jes GRAM-HANSEN, neither of whom have dropped a match. Gram-Hansen is looking particularly confident. In the second flight against Sweden's Mattias Rahm he was almost a leg ahead at the finish after he had driven Rahm into a windless zone beneath the cliffs here off Split.

If the wind allows, the fourth flight of the first round robin will commence today at 1100 Local Time. The teams will also be visited by numerous well known Croatian sportsmen which will be organised by one of the ACI HTmobile Cup sponsors, Jamnica, while Renault will organise a cocktail party for them in the evening.

ACI HTmobile Cup Round Robin Results

Flight 1

Karol Jablonski def. Johnie Berntsson
James Spithill def. Chris Law
Jesper Radich def. Allan Coutts
Magnus Holmberg def. Mattias Rahm
Jes Gram-Hansen def. Frane Brate

Flight 2

James Spithill def Johnie Berntsson
Chris Law def Paolo Cian
Allan Coutts def Magnus Holmberg
Jes Gram-Hansen def Mattias Rahm
Jesper Radich def Frane Brate

Flight 3

James Spithill def Paolo Cian
Chris Law def Karol Jablonski
Jes Gram-Hansen def Allan Coutts
Magnus Holmberg def Jesper Radich
Mattias Rahm def Frane Brate
Swedish Match Media (As Amended by ISAF News Editor)
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