American Ed BAIRD of Team Musto, and Australia's James SPITHILL, former helmsman for the OneWorld Challenge, advanced through the Quarter-final Repechage yesterday to the semi-final of the ISAF Grade 1, Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman.
BAIRD and SPITHILL join former Swedish Match Tour champion Magnus HOLMBERG of Sweden and local skipper Paolo CIAN of the Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team, and former helmsman for the Mascalzone Latino America's Cup challenge, who had previously qualified for the semi-final of the sixth event on Swedish Match Tour 2002/2003.
After defeating Great Britain's Chris LAW of "The Outlaws" 2-1, in a spirited series in the Quarter-final Lower Division, BAIRD swept past current Swedish Match Tour leader Jes GRAM-HANSEN of Team Victory Lane, 2-0, in the Quarter-final repechage round to stay alive and earn the chance to defend his title.
SPITHILL, like BAIRD, had an exciting battle with France's Luc PILLOT, former helmsman for the Le Defi Areva Challenge, before advancing, 2-1. "It didn't go well against Luc. Our jib halyard broke on the final beat of our second match, allowing Luc to overcome a three-boat length lead and end up winning,"
said SPITHILL. "It was a bit frustrating but, just one of those things."
Spithill then defeated Poland's Karol JABLONSKI 2-1, in the Quarter-finals repechage to advance to the semi-final, after encountering some additional mechanical challenges. "In the third match the backstay broke off down below as we were in the freshest part of the course. We sailed Karol way past the mark to allow us more time to try and fix it while going downwind, but we couldn't get it rigged up, causing us to minimize our tacks on the second upwind leg,"
explained Spithill. "Luckily we were able to hold him off and all our hard work and good crew work paid off."
Today is a scheduled lay day, with all the teams participating in a golf tournament.