Sweden's Magnus HOLMBERG of Team Stora Enso and Australia's Peter GILMOUR of Team Pizza La lapped up the barnstorming breezes blustering through Copenhagen and share the leaderboard with 7 wins and 1 loss, on the second day of the Danish Open.
Even the 38-knot gusts could not unsettle these two teams who were simply better than the other 10 international teams at wrestling the DS37 yachts around the course. Holmberg was nevertheless disappointed not to be able to retain the clean sheet that he carried through from day one. While he prevailed over two Danish teams skippered by Jesper RADICH and Lars NORDBJAERG, he admitted to making a mess of his match against the Netherlands' Roy HEINER.
"That was the worst part of the day. It began well as we gave him a penalty in the pre-start, but then everything seemed to go wrong after that. We hit the top mark twice, hitting it both times with the boom. It was my fault for not leaving enough space as we rounded. I was fooled by the size of the marks, thinking they are small, but actually they are not as small as they look."
Gilmour was simply happy to be back racing, after a prolonged self-imposed exile on America's Cup duty. "I've been out for a couple of years, so it's fun to be back racing again. I'm really relishing the challenge of it all. The boys have been sailing well together, and in these winds it's all about good team work."
With the wind frequently gusting to over 30 knots, the organizers decided to put in one reef on the mainsail. "This made it easier for the mainsheet trimmer, I suppose, but the boat tends to get a roll on downwind with the smaller mainsail."
Many sailors suffered some spectacular broaches and wipe-outs, much to the entertainment of the crowds onshore. Jesper RADICH described a hairy moment during his heat against Italy's Paolo CIAN of the Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team. "The barber-hauler on the spinnaker guy snapped, and we rolled right out of control. Then Cian gybed at us and we had to gybe to avoid a collision."
The spinnaker tore apart, but Radich kept his cool. "Somehow we managed to get through the gybe without wiping out, and we managed to get across the line ahead of him."
For Radich, however, beating fellow Dane Jesper BANK was the high point of his day. "It was a great moment for me, because he is a national icon of sailing in this country. He is one of my role models."
The key to beating the double Olympic Champion was patience, according to Radich. "Bank had the favoured end of the line at the start, but we were patient and waited for a shift to go our way before we tacked and crossed, and from there we sailed a safe race."
Radich now lies just behind the leaders with a 6-2 score line, the same as Frenchman Luc Pillot.
It was a better day for Jesper BANK too, with his loss to Radich marring what was an otherwise perfect day. It was just what the Danish legend needed if he was going to stay alive in this tough competition, a vast improvement on his shoddy form of day one. "Three wins and one loss - I would be happy if every day could be like this,"
said Bank, who still couldn't quite put his finger on what had gone wrong the day before, when it was one loss and three wins. "It's not an excuse, but I think I have just been working too hard on my business in between the sailing, answering my cell phone, talking to clients and colleagues. Luckily today the phone didn't ring too much, and tomorrow is the weekend so I shouldn't have so many distractions,"
he said with a smile.
Poland's Karol JABLONSKI admitted that he is struggling in the conditions. "This is the first match racing event we have done in these winds, and the other teams are looking more comfortable with the boats that we are. We had three close races today but unfortunately we just came second in all of them, and second is last."
The weather is predicted to moderate somewhat, so perhaps Jablonski will get more comfortable with the boats in the lighter winds.
Danish Open Round Robin Standings
Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team Stora Enso 7-1
Peter Gilmour, AUS/Team Pizza La 7-1
Jesper Radich, DEN/Team Radich 6-2
Luc Pillot, FRA/Team Pillot 6-2
Jesper Bank, Denmark 4-4
Andy Beadsworth, GBR/Team Henri Lloyd 4-4
Kelvin Harrap, New Zealand 4-4
Karol Jablonski, POL/Jablonski Sailing Team 3-5
Roy Heiner, Netherlands 3-5
Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Victory Lane 2-6
Lars Nordbjaerg, Denmark 2-6
Paolo Cian, ITA/Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team 1-7