"After the first day we realized we needed to step up our starts and while we were sailing well downwind, we were struggling a little bit upwind," confessed HOLMBERG. "We had better starts today and sailed better overall, so we're stepping up our game as the event is proceeding."
Joining HOLMBERG as an early qualifier for the semifinals is former Mascalzone Latino helmsman Paolo CIAN (ITA) now sailing for the Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team. While training with Mascalzone Latino, CIAN spent 18 months sailing on the waters around Elba and that experience has paid dividends as he upended Swedish Match Tour leader Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN) of Team Victory Lane, who had been undefeated entering the quarterfinals, 2-1.
"We are getting better, with an eight member crew we have 3-4 more crew than at other Swedish Match Tour events, so we've been working on teamwork all week," said CIAN. "Our trimmers Pier Luigi Fornelli and Francesco DE VITA have kept the boat going very fast and that has been the difference."
"I really need to congratulate Jes, his crew fought very hard and never let up one bit," continued CIAN. "In the light patchy conditions we had late this afternoon it's very hard to keep a close lead, especially on the final run."
Meanwhile, HOLMBERG dispatched of Poland's Karol JABLONSKI 2-0, in dominating fashion. In the first match JABLONSKI caught a penalty in the dial-up to put himself behind the eight ball against the match racing master. After catching HOLMBERG on the first downwind run, JABLONSKI clipped HOLMBERG's spinnaker pole at the leeward mark rounding resulting in another penalty and forcing an immediate penalty turn.
In the second match HOLMBERG cleaned JABLONSKI out at the start to establish a lead from which the Polish skipper could not recover.
The Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman is HOLMBERG's second appearance on the Swedish Match Tour following his duties as skipper and helmsman for Sweden's Victory Challenge for America's Cup 2003. Following a fifth place finish at last month's Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA, HOLMBERG is feeling well and looking for more.
"We didn't know what to expect coming back to the Swedish Match Tour after the America's Cup. If we do well at the events the results will get us back up the Leaderboard again," said HOLMBERG. "Additionally, as we're currently sailing without a sponsor, the prize money that comes along with doing well is very important, also."
In the day's other action, James SPITHILL of Australia, former helmsman of the OneWorld Challenge, defeated American Ed BAIRD of Team Musto 1-0, in the third place knock-out round forcing Baird into Quarterfinals Qualifying.
In the Quarterfinals Qualifying, BAIRD turned around his fortunes, dispatching Great Britain's Andy BEADSWORHT of Team Henri Lloyd 2-1, to stay alive. Likewise, Luc PILLOT was pushed to three matches by Denmark's Jesper RADICH before prevailing in a third and final match, while Chris LAW of "The Outlaws" swept past Sebastien DESTREMAU of Le Defi Areva.
As a result, RADICH, currently second on the Swedish Match Tour 2002/2003 Leaderboard, has been eliminated from the regatta without gaining any Swedish Match Tour Rankings points.
Yesterday presented the best racing conditions of the week thus far. A consistent 12 knot breeze settled in at 8 knots in the afternoon on Portoferraio Bay, before getting a bit shifty as the day came to a close.
Repechage quarter-final action resumes today as well as the beginning of semi-final competition.