It was an elated Jesper RADICH of Denmark who arrived back at the dock at Split's ACI Marina as the surprise victor of the ISAF Grade 1, Swedish Match Tour's ACI HTmobile Cup.
On the water it was another difficult day for the race committee with the sea breeze failing to behave in the expected manner. Principal Race Officer Alen KUSIC had set a deadline of 1500 (local time) to complete the semi-finals, but in this time only one flight had been run.
This proved disastrous for Polish competitor Karol JABLONSKI who going into the final day was clear leader of the rankings. Jablonski lined up against fourth placed skipper Jesper RADICH and following an OCS at the start, lost to the young Dane. The wind died and with the 1500 deadline passed, Jablonski was unable to rectify this situation and found himself lining up in the petite-finals against former Swedish Match Tour winner Magnus HOLMBERG.
"Everything went wrong for us. Maybe we shouldn't have got up this morning,"
commented Jablonski. "It is not the best kind of final day. We have sailed one and half round robins and in 15 races we won 12 of them. Then it comes to after one race in tricky conditions and that is not the best way to hold the semis."
Insult was added to injury for Jablonski when during his second race of the Petit Finals against Magnus HOLMBERG there was a course change. Holmberg failed to recognise the course change and rounded the old weather mark locked in close combat with the Pole. Jablonski then headed for the new windward mark while Holmberg continued down the run. At a meeting of the jury to examine the incident afterwards Holmberg made a convincing argument that he had not been given the warning of the change of course long enough in advance. The race was resailed with Holmberg winning to take third place overall with Jablonski fourth.
Meanwhile in the Finals, three races were held between 24-year-old Australian James SPITHILL and Jesper RADICH. Spithill won the first race while the Dane took the second and third races. With the wind once again failing, the race committee opted to call it a day, leaving the win to a delighted Radich.
commented Radich following the ritual post-race win dip in Split Harbour. "It is so great to be back and sailing against James, who is an excellent sailor with an excellent crew and that tells us we are definitely in the right spot."
In addition to his usual crew of Peter POULSEN, Rasmus WINSTON and Chresten PLINIUS, Radich was sailing with a new crew in the form of Danish giant and former Alinghi grinder Jann NEERGAARD on the bow. "He was superb at calling the shifts,"
For James SPITHILL it has been the second time in consecutive events on the Swedish Match Tour that he has claimed the runner-up spot. "I think Jesper and his guys sailed a little bit better than us. It came down to the decider race. We thought we were doing the right thing - we liked the right hand off the start and got the right off the start and it wasn't enough. His guys sailed a great race to lead all the way round."
The next event on the Swedish Match Tour is the ISAF Grade 1 Match Race Germany, June 5-9, in Langenargen, Germany on the shores of Lake Constance.
ACI HTmobile CUP FINAL STANDINGS
1.Jesper Radich (DEN/Team Radich)
2.James Spithill (AUS/Team Spithill)
3.Magnus Holmberg, (SWE/Team Holmberg)
4. Karol Jablonski, (POL/Jablonski Sailing Team)
5. Chris Law (GBR/"The Outlaws")
6.Paolo Cian (ITA/Riviera di Rimini Sailing Team)
7. Mattias Rahm (SWE/Team Stena Bulk)
8.Jes Gram Hanson (DEN/Team Victory Lane)
9.Johnie Berntsson (SWE)
10.Allan Coutts (NZL/Alinghi Team)
11.Frane Brate (CRO)