The other three teams in the group - led by skippers Chris LAW (GBR) of The Outlaws, Michael DUNSTAN (AUS) and Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team's Hamish PEPPER (NZL), advanced to the repechage round. LAW finished 3-2, DUNSTAN 2-3 and PEPPER 0-5.
Racing was dominated by a light northwesterly wind between three and eight knots. The breeze blows off the land in that direction and is very streaky, making tacticians sweat over their decisions.
'You form an overall strategy and monitor it ten minutes before the start,' said Murray JONES, tactician for HOLMBERG. 'Some streaks hit the water and some don't. You try to sail what you see, but you don't want to tack off a good lift. You have to sail the closer angle to the mark. It's more strategy than connecting the dots, but it's not easy.'
HOLMBERG and JONES were left shaking their heads at the recent ISAF Grade 1 Swedish Match Cup. Tied 2-2 in their semi final series against Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), they led by about 20 seconds in the fifth and deciding race. But on the third lap Magnus HOLMBERG was able to close up at the windward mark and eventually won the race, leaving Peter HOLMBERG in disbelief.
'We were anxious to get back out here,' said the Alinghi helmsman from the US Virgin Islands. 'Murray and I talked last week about what happened in Sweden. We knew the mistakes we made and wanted to correct them.'
Peter HOLMBERG looked smooth today, leading most of the day. His only hiccup came in the fifth race against Law when he admittedly messed up the start.
'We had control and got lazy,' said HOLMBERG. 'We didn't want to hook him so we slowed down. Then he jibed away and hooked me. We just got lazy. He did a great job.'
'I like it when it's shifty and tricky,' said LINDBERG. 'I got better at starting later in the day, and the guys took me around the course.'
GILMOUR is sailing his first match race regatta in years without regular crewmembers Rod DAWSON, Mike MOTTL and Kazuhiko SOFUKU, who man the critical positions of mainsheet, headsails and foredeck. In their stead are Fred GUILMAN, Thierry FOUCHIER and Frederico CERVEIRA, respectively, who join longtime crewman Yasuhiro YAJI.
The two Frenchmen trimming the sails are veteran match racers, but CERVEIRA is a local bowman who is 19 years old. He has competed with Portuguese crews at match race events before, but never at the level he is at now.
'He's just a teenager,' said 45 year old GILMOUR. 'His dad's as old as I am. He's enjoying himself. All the locals are coming by saying hi. He has to pinch himself out there.'
'I feel very good and happy,' said CERVEIRA, who joined GILMOUR's crew through event organizers. 'Everything is calm onboard. It's a very good team and they're always trying to help me.'
Group B was scheduled to sail its round robin beginning this morning at 1000 hours local time.
PTPortugal Match Cup Standings
(After 5 of 5 scheduled flights)
1. Peter HOLMBERG (ISV), Alinghi (SUI), 4-1
2. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Team Finland, 3-2
3. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), Pizza-La Sailing Team, 3-2
4. Chris LAW (GBR), The Outlaws, 3-2
5. Michael DUNSTAN (AUS), 2-3
6. Hamish PEPPER (NZL), Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), 0-5