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11 June 2004, 09:54 am
Gram-Hansen Holds Lead
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Jes GRAM-HANSEN & Ray DAVIES © Guido Cantini/ Sea&See

Match Race Germany

Despite a third consecutive day of still conditions, three skippers remain alive in the chase for the Mercedes Benz SLK 200 at Match Race Germany.
Jes GRAM-HANSEN'S Team Denmark (Rasmus KOSTNER, Christian KAMP, Michael ARNHILD, Henning SOHM) leads the standings with a 5-0 record. They topped Group B, which finished its initial round robin today, and led three other teams to the quarterfinals.

In Group A, Peter GILMOUR'S Pizza-La Sailing Team (Yasuhiro YAJI, Mike MOTTL, Kazuhiko SOFUKU, Carsten KEMMLING) and Gavin BRADY'S BMW Oracle Racing (Dirk DE RIDDER, Sean CLARKSON, Brad WEBB, Andreas JOHN) both have 3-0 records after three flights.

The first skipper to win 10 straight races will win the silver Mercedes roadster, with a top speed of 260 kilometers/hour. Group A still has two flights to sail before determining the four teams that will advance to the quarterfinals.

"I imagine the conditions are as testing for the organizers as they are for the sailors," said Brady, referring to the sweltering, 80-degree-plus temperatures and nearly non-existent wind. "We hope the breeze fills in tomorrow, the boats could be a lot of fun in some strong wind."

The Bavaria 35 Match yachts, new this year, have proved a good addition to the light-wind event. The tall rigs are able to get the breeze aloft and power along the 35-footers.

"They're suitable for the lake," GRAM-HANSEN said. "Before the event I doubted they'd be good, but so far they've proven fine."

Four teams from Group B have advanced to the quarterfinal round. Joining Gram-Hansen are crews led by skippers Eric MONIN (SUI), Luc PILLOT (FRA) and Mathieu RICHARD (FRA).

Michael DUNSTAN (AUS) and Ray DAVIES (NZL) failed to advance. While Davies was eliminated with no wins, Dunstan lost a spot in the quarterfinals in the last 100 meters of his Flight 4 match against Richard.

Dunstan had led the match from the start. He started to leeward of Richard and worked the left side of the beat in winds no more than 4 knots. His crew work was smooth and they led by about four boatlengths at the leeward mark.

Dunstan again worked the left side of the beat the second time up, and led by about three boatlengths at the second windward mark.

On a light-air run, the trailing boat has the advantage because it can ride a puff up to the leader. And that's what happened.

Richard closed enough on port so that when the two crews jibed to starboard to approach the finish, Richard was to windward of Dunstan and blanketing him. Richard rolled the Aussie to grab the win by half a length.

That was the most excitement on a day when very little happened. At the post-race press conference, chief umpire Jan STAGE (DEN) said the umpires even had a sedate day. They only issued three green flags in requests for protests by the competitors.

"I thought yesterday was quiet, but today was even more so," Stage said.

The chief umpire then related how the International Jury deducted three-quarters of a point from Brady's total due to unsportsmanlike conduct.

Stage said an unidentified crewmember from Brady's crew took two umpire flags, the red and black, off the umpire boat during the boat swap from Group B to Group A.

The red flag signals a crew must perform a penalty turn immediately, while the black flag disqualifies a competitor from the match they're racing.

The incident occurred during a boat swap late in the day, just prior to the race committee cancelling the remaining races.

"We thought it was a serious infringement,""A race might've been started and we wouldn't have had the flags."

Brady downplayed the incident. "They were taken as a joke," he said.
Sean McNeill (As Amended by ISAF Secretariat)
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