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15 August 2003, 10:40 am
Holmberg Cruises Early Rounds
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Danish Open Match Race

Sweden's Magnus HOLMBERG of Team Stora Enso stormed through the early heats of the Danish Open yesterday, as 12 international teams battled it out in 30-knot gusting winds off Skovshoved Harbour.
The America's Cup calibre racing teams were all fired up and keen to kick off the 'new year' with a bang. The highlight of the day took place in the ninth and final round of a busy day's racing. Both Holmberg and Australia's Peter GILMOUR of Team Pizza La had kept a clean sheet until their final heat, so one of them was going to be disappointed.

Gilmour is known for excelling in strong breezes, but he admitted that Holmberg did a good job of sewing up their match today. "The pattern seems to be in these events that the Danes and the Swedes start out these regattas running very hot, and that we tend to come on stronger as we do more racing," he said. With that in mind, he professed himself pretty happy with a 3-1 scoreline.

Surprisingly for a sailor of his quality, the Pizza La-sponsored skipper had to sail the qualifying regatta preceding the Danish Open, but he said that winning that competition has given him valuable extra time in getting to grips with the DS37 yachts that are used for this event.

Holmberg commented: "We have been racing in light winds all this year, so this was a nice change today. We normally have our act together in the strong winds, so I was quite happy today. We seem to have had a lot of regattas where we have started badly on the first day, which really puts the pressure on, so it is nice to start off well for a change."

As for the four home teams, Jesper BANK, the double Olympic Champion, had the least successful day of all of them, winning just one of four heats. "We did what we wanted to do with our strategy today, claiming the left side of the course in the first two races, and then the right in the last two, but it didn't work out for us. I can't really work it out. In the start with Gilly, we were leading by the full length of the line, but it still wasn't enough somehow."

By contrast, Jesper RADICH, recent winner of the Swedish Match Tour 2002/03, maintained his streak of good form, with four wins from five races. Radich lives just a few hundred metres down the road from Skovshoved Harbour, and he is familiar with the boats and the waters, perhaps too much so. "I felt we overcame a hurdle today, of making sure that we saw this regatta differently from just another training day on the water. It can be hard to motivate yourself up to the 110 per cent level that's required to perform in this type of regatta, but everything fell into place today."

The other two Danes, Lars NORDBJAERG and Jes GRAM-HANSEN, both ended the day with two wins against three losses. For Gram-Hansen this is the opportunity to put right a year that ended disastrously after such a strong early showing. He was pretty happy with his day, considering the conditions. "The westerly wind was really tricky, and I would have preferred the more stable breezes that you get from the east here. On a day like today, you have to sail your own race, take the shifts you get, and hope that it is enough to stay ahead of your competitor."

Luc PILLOT of France enjoyed a good day on the water with four wins from five races, and seemed very comfortable with the conditions. "We did well at the starts and we seemed to have good speed against Andy BEADSWORTH."

British skipper Beadsworth was delighted to win the last race of his day against former Olympic Soling rival Roy HEINER of the Netherlands. "It was a must-win race, otherwise we'd have gone 4:1 down." Crewman Richard SYDENHAM was pleased just to make it through the day. He jetted into Copenhagen late last night following a mad dash to make the event in time, after competing on the Maxi yacht Leopard in a light-wind Fastnet Race. What a contrast day one of the Danish Open turned out to be.

Round Robin Standings
Skipper Wins Losses
Magnus Holmberg, SWE 4 0
Jesper Radich, DEN 4 1
Luc Pillot, FRA 4 1
Peter Gilmour, AUS 3 1
Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN 2 3
Andy Beadsworth, GBR 2 3
Lars Nordbjaerg DEN 2 3
Kelvin Harrap NZL 2 2
Karol Jablonski POL 2 2
Jesper Bank DEN 1 3
Roy Heiner NED 1 4
Paolo Cian ITA 0 4

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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