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25 October 2003, 08:15 am
Four Advance To Semi-Finals - Barker, Gilmour, Radich and Dickson
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Dean BARKER with Ben AINSLIEOn Foredeck© Sergio Dionisio/Oceanfashion Pictures

King Edward VII Gold Cup
Hamilton Harbour

The final four skippers of the Investors Guaranty Presentation of the King Edward VII Gold Cup were decided yesterday on Hamilton Harbour.
They advance to tomorrow's Semi-Final Round, a 'first to three point' series, and a shot at the record $100,000 prize purse. Defending champion Jesper Radich/Team RADICH (DEN) will face Peter GILMOUR/Pizza-La Sailing Team (AUS) and Dean BARKER/Team New Zealand's Omega Match Racing Team (NZL) will square off against Chris DICKSON/Team Oracle BMW Racing (USA). The Quarter-Final knockout round took just under five hours to complete and saw Radich and Barker advance easily in three straight wins against Paula LEWIN/Team ACE (BER) and Bill HARDESTY (USA), respectively, while Dickson eliminated 2002 runner-up Jes GRAM-HANSEN/Team Colorcraft (DEN) and Gilmour stretched six-time winner Russell COUTTS/Team Alinghi (SWI) to five matches.

Dickson's place in the final four almost slipped through his hands in the final deciding race against Jes GRAM-HANSEN/Team Colorcraft (DEN). After three attempts by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club race committee to get the race started due to shifting winds and departing cruise ships, both teams found themselves aggressively battling in the pre-start.

Dickson received a penalty moments before crossing the line. The situation might have deterred less prepared skippers, but not Dickson who confidently took his penalty turn at the windward mark rounding. "We were around the mark and ahead of Jes, and we got a nice puff that really put us ahead and allowed us the time we needed to do our turn," explained Dickson. From there Dickson sailed away to the finish and a match in the semis against Barker. "I'm happy to be racing Dean. It wouldn't surprise us if we went 2-2 and needed a final, deciding race against him."

Barker eliminated Bill Hardesty (USA) the only unseeded skipper to progress into the Quarter-Final round. "I'm happy to get through this round,"said Barker alluding to the fact that, in the past, he has been eliminated on the first day of racing. "Bill and his crew were sailing well and it was another tough day."On facing Dickson, he joked, "Well, he's one of the guys who's made this a short event for us before."

The day's other hotly contested match-up came between Gilmour and Coutts, who have faced each other many times and know each other's play book well. Gilmour took the first two matches off the three-time America's Cup champion, lost the third match and went into the fourth determined to pass through to the next round.

"I reflected on the time when we sailed in the final and he beat us 3-2," said Gilmour. "That's when I thought about our next race and reflected on it. I said to myself, 'I won't let that happen again.'"

For Coutts, the loss signals his team's run at a seventh Gold Cup title and some more work ahead. "Up until 30 seconds before the start we were doing well, but I didn't do a great job at finishing off the pre-starts," said Coutts.

On facing Radich in the semi-final, Gilmour said, "Jes is well respected for his achievements and is the top ranked sailor. Things have been going well for him and we'll have to be on top of our game against him."

Radich, who used his considerable match racing experience to his advantage, eliminated Bermuda's sweetheart and four-time Female Athlete of the Year Paula LEWIN/Team ACE. Radich conceded that the wins weren't as easy as they looked, "Paula is a different opponent than what we are used to. We have never sailed against her and don't know her style. When I prepare for an opponent, I think about their style and plan accordingly. With Paula we decided to keep to our own basics: sailing fast, picking the shifts and succeed in the starts, which we did."

The Semi-Final round takes place tomorrow followed by 5th through 8th places decided in a 'first to two point' series. For Lewin, consolation comes in tomorrow's sail off. "I wish we weren't leaving so soon," she said. "But I still get a shot at 5th place."

Quarter Final Round, 'first to three points'
Flight 1

J. Radich def. P. Lewin
P. Gilmour def. R. Coutts
D. Barker def. B. Hardesty
J. Gram-Hansen def. C. Dickson

Flight 2
J. Radich def. P. Lewin
P. Gilmour def. R. Coutts
D. Barker def. B. Hardesty
C. Dickson def. J. Gram-Hansen

Flight 3
J. Radich def. P. Lewin
R. Coutts def. P. Gilmour
D. Barker def. B. Hardesty
J. Gram-Hansen def. C. Dickson

Flight 4
P. Gilmour def. R. Coutts
C. Dickson def. J. Gram-Hansen

Flight 5
C. Dickson def. J. Gram-Hansen
Dana Paxton (As Amended by ISAF Secretariat)
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