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21 November 2003, 10:07 am
Day Three
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Nippon Cup

Light air delayed the start to the third day of the ISAF Grade 1 Nippon Cup 2003, and then squalls of up to 30 knots on Hayama's Shinjuku Bay brought an early end to the day's racing.
Following an abbreviated schedule that leaves two full flights of the round robin to be raced tomorrow morning, Australian Peter GILMOUR of the Pizza-La Sailing Team, seven-time winner of this regatta, and Sweden's Magnus HOLMBERG and his SeaLife Rangers sit atop the leader board with eight wins apiece.

Holmberg had a 3-1 day of racing following an off-day yesterday as a result of the regatta's schedule. The time-off was valued by the Victory Challenge skipper as he has been battling a cold during the early stages of the event.

"It was nice getting a lay-day yesterday to recover a bit and not have to be out in the rain and the cold," admitted Holmberg.

The Swedes' only blemish on their record came at the hands of Gilmour and crew in the day's final match.

"The race was decided at the start as a result of a large shift from the right," explained Gilmour. "Whoever was going to get that side of the line was going to be favoured. We were both fighting for it and we were fortunate to get it."

With both Holmberg and Gilmour all but assured of advancing to the semifinals, the battle for the two remaining spots is up for grabs with four skippers, Oracle BMW Racing's Gavin BRADY (7-4), Team New Zealand's Dean BARKER and his OMEGA Match Racing Team (7-3), Italy's Paolo CIAN of the Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team (6-3) and France Luc PILLOT of Team Pillot (5-3) in the mix.

"The first part of the day was very tricky, we waited a long time for the wind and when it came it was very shifty," said Cian. "We feel much more comfortable in light conditions, over 15 knots these are very difficult (boats to sail), but we are still in the fight with six points. We have difficult matches with Magnus and Luc tomorrow so we'll see."

Brady is the only one among the four who has completed his racing and as a result now sits ashore awaiting the results of others to determine his fate.

"It would have been nice to have one more point, it would have made a world of difference on our position," said Brady. "There's still a slim chance that we can advance to the semi-finals, but it's out of our hands so we'll just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow."

When asked if a day away from the complex Yamaha 30s was a positive or a negative should his team advance to the next round, Brady indicated the former.

"I think it was a huge advantage to us (to be off today)," said Brady. "We were able to find Starbucks, Denny's and McDonald's, so we now know where to get our coffee in the morning. We'll be all fired up and ready to go."

A day after 11 flights were raced in miserable conditions, the morning's bright sunshine and light air resulted in a three-hour delay to the start of today's racing. After successfully running four flights of racing, the day's competition was suspended as the breeze on Shinjuku Bay grew to be too much for the Yamaha 30 racing yachts in the estimation of the Race Committee.

As a result, the final two round robin flights and re-sail of the Barker-Pillot match from Flight 19 will conclude on Saturday morning to be followed by the semifinals.

The Nippon Cup 2003 features a single round robin with the top four skippers advancing to Saturday's first-to-three points semi-finals. Semi-final winners advance to Sunday's first-to-three wins finals, while the losers square off in the petit finals.

Round Robin Standings

Skipper Wins Losses
1.Peter Gilmour, AUS/Pizza-La Sailing Team 8 1
2.Magnus Holmberg, SWE/SeaLife Rangers 8 1
3.Dean Barker, NZ/Omega Match Racing Team 7 3
4.Gavin Brady, Oracle BMW Racing 7 4
5.Paolo Cian, ITA/Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team 6 3
6.Luc Pillot, FRA/Team Pillot 5 3
7.Jesper Radich, Denmark 5 4
8.Staffan Lindberg, FIN/Team Henri Lloyd 4 5
9.Andy Green, GBR/Team Racing Green 4 7
10.Yautaka Funazawa, Japan 3 8
11.Eiichiro Hamazaki, Japan 2 9
12.Takao Ninomiya, Japan 0 11
Shawn McBride (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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