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Mumm 36 World Championships Day Five

by Sue Warden-Owen 23 Jun 1999 18:24 BST

A dominating performance by 'Thomas I Punkt' proved sufficient for the German crew to take the Mumm 36 World Championships with a day to spare, always providing that two pending protests do not significantly change the results of today's racing. Mixed results by Britain's Barlo Plastics see them back in to second place with a close battle in prospect in the one race on the remaining day if they are to retain the position. With 'Moby Lines' just one point behind Barlo Plastics and 'Breeze 1' only a further two points back, skipper and tactician, Adrian Stead will have his hands full keeping track of two close rivals.

In the first race, Barlo Plastics produced a superb start and finding both space and good speed slowly extended her lead all the way up the first beat. While the fleet split across the width of the course Barlo Plastics worked her way carefully through the shifts up the middle. Tellingly, by the first leeward mark, 'Thomas I Punkt' had worked her way up to second, making strong challenge for the overall lead, while significantly 'Moby Lines', Barlo Plastics closest rival for second place, was last. Conscious that 'Thomas I Punkt' was now his main rival for the championship, Adrian Stead did what he could to slow them down. "We tried to sit on them a bit to try and help them back, but they were always just that bit ahead of the bunch that we could not hurt them."

On the second beat, Barlo Plastics once again played the middle, while the fleet split to the full width of the course, 'New Yorker' hard on the right and 'Moby Lines' all the way to the left. Fortunately for Barlo Plastics, the shifts were regular and oscillating allowing none of her rivals to gain any significant advantage. Tellingly, 'Thomas I Punkt' also played the middle neither gaining or losing on Barlo Plastics to round second. Out on the right hand side, 'New Yorker' amply demonstrated the perils of taking a big flier taking over 'Moby Lines' last place by a substantial margin. With the order maintained to the finish, 'Thomas I Punkt's' grip on the championships was closing fast with only Barlo Plastics realistically able to nudge her out of top slot. Behind, 'Breeze 1' and 'Resco' crossed the line overlapped with 'Mean Machine' and 'Elbe III' similarly close together amongst a huge amount of shouting and threats of protests.

At the second start, Barlo Plastics did herself no favours, and though only a fraction back from the leading boats could not find either a clear lane or enough speed to break through 'Elbe III' to windward. Stead was clear where the responsibility lay, accepting "We held back a bit too much at the start." What ever the cause it did nothing to help Barlo Plastics who could only watch as 'Thomas I Punkt' sailed away in clear wind. Forced away to the right, Barlo Plastics realised the error of her ways and crossed all the way to the left, all to no avail, rounding the windward mark seventh, just inside 'Moby Lines'. For 'Thomas I Punkt' things were going very much according to plan, rounding just behind race leader, 'New Yorker' and just ahead of 'Breeze 1'.

Once again the advantage was handed to the pursuing pack with more wind and a shift to the right allowing them to run deep in more pressure. Barlo Plastics and 'Moby Lines' both made substantial ground on the boats ahead while the leaders, 'New Yorker' and 'Thomas I Punkt' scrambled frantically to the right in order to cut off the pack approaching from behind. With the fleet substantially closed up by the leeward mark, 'New Yorker' continued to lead with 'Thomas I Punkt' second. Having closed up substantially on the run Barlo Plastics was up to fifth and significantly much closer to the leading group.

With two huge black clouds approaching, one on either side of the beat, it was critical to decide which was going to produce more breeze. 'Thomas I Punkt' hedged her bets, playing the shifting and significantly depleted wind up the middle of the course, while Barlo Plastics and 'New Yorker' both chose to go right. While this ultimately proved to be the right decision, Barlo Plastics cut back to the left and as the wind died away both was trapped with virtually no wind while the others sailed away.

With the fleet separated by a much larger margin than before, 'New Yorker' continued to lead from 'Thomas I Punkt' with Barlo Plastics back in eighth. Once again the later boats round the mark were favoured and as much as the fleet had split upwind it was forced together again on the way back to the leeward mark. With the finish this time at the top of the course and the wind now well to the right, the beat was highly one sided and very processional until a further shift near the finish allowed 'Thomas I Punkt' to slip across ahead of 'New Yorker' just a couple of hundred yards before the finish. With the final shift bringing the next three boats even closer together, 'Breeze 1' managed to squeeze out 'New Yorker' by just a few centimetres with 'Mean Machine' equally close behind her. Trapped in the traffic, Barlo Plastics was unable to extricate herself, maintaining her eight position to the end.

With the certainty of nothing better than second place, Stead was far from despondent about the crews performance. "We came out today feeling punchy, knowing we had to get a result and we got it this morning but not quite this afternoon. We know we can get good starts and we have good speed. Our goal here was always a top three result so the rest of the British Admiral's Cup team could rely on the Mumm 36 as a credible team member and we still have the opportunity to do that. We are learning a lot here and we are definitely faster now than we were at the beginning of the week."

Results after 9 races:

Provisional subject to protest (marked 'P')

 1 Thomas I Punkt  K Jablinski  6 1 6 1 2 4 1 2 1    24
 2 Barlo Plastics  A Stead      3 2 4 3 3 1 9 1 8    34
 3 Moby Lines      E Cheffi     1 3 2 2 6 7 2 7P5P   35
 4 Breeze 1        T Hutchinson 2 4 3 6 4 5 6 5P2    37
 5 New Yorker      C Larson     5 6 1 5 7 2 4 9 3    42
 6 Mean Machine    B Beeking    7 5 811DSQ1 6 7 6    55
 7 Pro Sail 3      A Willim     4 8 7 4 8 3 5 811    58
 8 Resco           W Sunesson   9 7 5 7 9 8 3 4P6    58
 9 Elbe III        J Diesch     810 9 8 5 9 8 3P7    67
10 The Next        H Bloemers  10 910 910101010 9    87

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