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Better Days Ahead — We Hope

July 3, 2003
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Stuart Streuli

While Group 1 of the Swedish Match Cup went through its initial round robin in the rain, tour officials unveiled their plans for the future of professional match racing. The Swedish Match 40, a Pelle Petterson-designed match racer, was christened by Petterson’s wife Irene today. Looking much like an America’s Cup Class boat, the 40-footer features a very narrow beam, a wheel, a pronounced knuckle in the stem, and a square-head main.

According to Swedish Match Tour director Scott MacLeod, the new design represents the next phase of the tour, “allowing us to go to new locations and strengthen our association with the America’s Cup,” he said. “We’re three to three and a half years into this project [the tour] and we feel very excited about what we’re doing.”

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| Stuart Streuli|

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| The cockpit of the Swedish Match 40. Expressly design for match racing, it bears a lot of similarity to an America’s Cup Class boat.* * *|

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While the details, and the funding, have yet to be worked out, MacLeod said the plan is to ship eight of the SM 40s, plus a container of tools and a container of judge boats, around the world to each stop on the tour. It would be, as MacLeod said, “a tour in a box.” To support this undertaking, he outlined the basics of a plan to sell what essentially are secondary sponsorships to eight individual teams, such as America’s Cup syndicates. The sponsorship would give each team one spot in all of the tour events, as well as the right to fly mainsails and spinnakers emblazoned with the logos of their sponsors whenever that team was sailing. The other eight spots in the 16-team regatta would be open to top tour sailors, qualifiers, wild cards, etc., still giving the unheralded sailor a door into the tour. When one of these teams sailed, the normal tour sails would be flown.

MacLeod also mentioned standardizing the format for the regattas and having the option to put both a cameraman and an spectator–similar to the America’s Cup’s 17th man spot–on the boat. The first SM 40 has the handrails in the back for a judge or spectator, but they’re still working out where to put the cameraman. Finally, Pelle Wikman of SailNet, which has organized the building of the SM 40, and builder Lars Wikland, said the boat would be available for purchase by the general public. They are specifically targeting America’s Cup teams, who could use the boat to train their crews when not sailing in the big boats. A price has not yet been set.

While the media were ogling the new craft, a tight round of racing was underway. The wind was steady, but unfortunately, so was the rain. Unlike yesterday, where Jesper Radich and Mattias Rahm were dominant in their round robin, each losing one match, today’s results were much tighter; every team seeking more to avoid to bottom than win the round. The end result was the elimination of Ed Baird’s Team Musto from the regatta, while James Spithill, despite losing a half point as a result of a collision with former mentor Peter Gilmour, moved straight through to the quarterfinals. The other six sailors, which includes Oracle helmsman Peter Holmberg and Karol Jablonski, ISAF’s top-ranked match racer, will all move to a knock-out round where they’ll be paired against the second- through seventh-place finishers from Group 2, which sailed first and finished its round robin on Wednesday. Friday’s knock out round will be a best of three and feature Jesper Radich vs. Magnus Holmberg, Jesper Bank vs. Andy Beadsworth, Karol Jablonski vs. Johnie Berntsson, Paolo Cian vs. Peter Holmberg, Peter Gilmour vs. Staffan Lindberg, and Chris Law vs. Mikael Lindqvist. Jes Gram-Hansen, currently second in the overall tour standings, was eliminated from Group 2. Racing will continue tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. The weather is supposed to improve.

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