Australia's Peter GILMOUR and Sweden's Magnus HOLMBERG survived thrilling five-match semifinals to advance to tomorrow's championship round of the ISAF Grade 1 Nippon Cup 2003.
Gilmour and Oracle BMW Racing's Gavin BRADY traded wins in their semifinal action, with Gilmour winning the fifth and final match to advance.
"The racing was extremely close, Gavin and his team were sailing very well and it took us a while to figure out how they were bringing the races back to us,"
Regarding the fifth match, the strategy was simple according to Gilmour. "We decided, whatever we do, we're going to try and grab the right hand side and keep it. The starts were crucial today and decided the matches. You wanted to get off the start line in the best possible position and then look for the closest puff of breeze to give you some boat speed."
Holmberg meanwhile, defeated his opponent, Team New Zealand skipper Dean BARKER and his OMEGA Match Racing team in the first two flights, only to see the Kiwi crew battle back to even the scoreline 2-2.
"It certainly was five very tough races - a long semifinal - and exciting racing," summed up Holmberg. "Dean and his team always sail very well and they did today. But, my crew worked hard and didn't give up even after we lost the two races."
When asked what changed the momentum in their semifinal Holmberg offered, "We were struggling a little bit with the height in the third and fourth races, so we changed the trim in the fifth race and it seemed to make a bit of difference. Luckily we came out on top today."
"It's certainly going to be interesting, we both went 10-1 in the round robin and 3-2 both of our semifinals,"
"We have a slightly different style than Magnus. He and his team are smooth, around-the-course sailors and you can't afford to let him get any sort of a jump."
"We tend to start a little bit better and have a little bit better local knowledge. Tomorrow will really depend on the conditions and how we can roll into it all,"
"If it gets windy its probably a bit more favourable to Gillie and his team,"
responded Holmberg. "We expect him to be a bit more aggressive than Dean was in the pre-starts today, on the other hand, we've done a bit more sailing than when we met him in the round robin (Homberg's only loss), so it should be very close tomorrow."
Today's action began with the conclusion of round robin racing. France's Luc PILLOT began the day with his fate in his own hands, but lost all three of his matches, including his re-sail with Barker, to get shut out of the semifinals.
The Nippon Cup 2003 features a single round robin with the top four skippers advancing to Saturday's first-to-three points semifinals. Semifinal winners advance to Sunday's first-to-three wins finals, while the losers square off in the petit finals.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.