Barkow scores first win and looks to topple Dickson tomorrow at Monsoon Cup in Malaysia

Although three flights remain to complete the round robin stage of the Monsoon Cup, the celebratory 50th event of the Swedish Match Tour, the quarterfinalists are nearly set.

For the third day in a row the leaderboard has undergone significant changes. Sweden’s Magnus Holmberg (Victory Challenge) assumed the top spot today by going 3-0 on the day. His 8-2 record is one better than New Zealander Dean Barker (Emirates Team New Zealand). One spot back there’s a tie for third between New Zealander Chris Dickson (BMW Oracle Racing) and trans-Tasman rival Peter Gilmour (PST) of Australia. Both are 6-2.

Finland’s Staffan Lindberg (Alandia Sailing Team) holds fifth at 5-3, followed by Ian Williams (Williams Racing Team) of England with a 5-4 mark. New Zealand’s Russell Coutts (Coutts Racing Team) is seventh at 4-4 and Sweden’s Björn Hansen (Team at 4-5.

Each skipper is scheduled to complete 11 races in the round robin. Hansen could be considered to be in the most precarious position to advance. He’s only one win ahead of both Francesco Bruni (Luna Rossa Challenge) of Italy and Frenchman Thierry Peponnet (K-Challenge), who are both 3-7. Hansen has lost both head-to-head matches versus Bruni and Peponnet. If all three finish in a tie at 4-7, Bruni would advance by virtue of beating both. Cameron Dunn (Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia) of New Zealand is 11th at 2-8 and American Sally Barkow (Team 7) is 12th at 1-8.

Racing today was interrupted for about three and a half hours when the wind died. When racing was on it was held in a north-westerly breeze averaging 6 knots. The oscillating wind kept the racecourse wide open, with the left and right sides alternately working.

“This is a particularly tricky venue,” said Coutts. “There’s a lot of subtlety about the breeze, the current and so forth that you have to read. The situation changes quite often. In some ways it makes the game interesting.”

A highlight of the day was Barkow’s first win of the regatta. She defeated Lindberg by 43 seconds in Flight 12 after narrowly missing a victory against Bruni in Flight 11. Barkow said afterwards that it was a relief to get a victory on the board. “I felt we’d get one,” said Barkow, the reigning women’s world match-racing champion and Yngling world champion.

Barkow and crew got their victory in classic match-racing fashion. They had control of Lindberg in the pre-start, forcing him to tack away. They entered the racecourse with good speed and Lindberg on their windward quarter. He was forced to tack away. Barkow extended before covering and then matched Lindberg tack for tack, gybe for gybe. “It was fairly straightforward,” said Barkow. “I was glad we matched them in the boathandling. We almost got one against Bruni but he got inside us at the last windward mark and came back for the win. But that was exciting. I felt like we could play with them. “Our boathandling has gotten better,” Barkow continued. “It’s taken time to get a feel for the boats, me especially, for how they turn and react.”

Tomorrow Barkow has a scheduled race against Peponnet and a make-up race against Dickson from Flight 6. It isn’t an anomaly for women to beat men in match-racing, but it is a rarity. Coutts is one of many hoping she beats Dickson. “I want to see that. I want to see Sally beat Chris,” Coutts said. “This is a sport that technically I don’t believe there should be any advantage in these type boats. As a helmsman Sally can compete with any of the Cup crews.”

Dickson said: “We haven’t raced Sally yet so after she whips our butts tomorrow I’ll be confirming that they’re very capable of taking races off us. She’s shown it already. But it’s no different than any other competitor. If you blink or hesitate or make any errors, Sally and her team will take races off you. In that respect it’s no different than anyone else out there.”

The round robin is scheduled to resume tomorrow at 1000.

Monsoon Cup Standings

Round Robin (After 14 of 17 scheduled flights)

1. Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge, 8-2

(Crew: Anders Dahlsjo, Martin Krite, Lars Linger, Mattias Rahm)

2. Dean Barker (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand, 7-3

(Crew: Don Cowie, James Dagg, Jared Henderson, Terry Hutchinson)

3. Chris Dickson (NZL) BMW Oracle Racing, 6-2

(Crew: Jamie Gale, Robbie Naismith, Ed Smyth, Paul Westlake)

T. Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST, 6-2

(Crew: Rod Dawson, Kazuhiko Sofuku, Tatsuya Wakinaga, Yasuhiro Yaji)

5. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 5-3

(Crew: Martin Berntsson, Nils Bjerkås, Carl-Johan Uckelstam, Daniel Wallberg)

6. Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Racing Team, 5-4

(Crew: Gerry Mitchell, Mark Nichols, Guy Salter, Mark Williams)

7. Russell Coutts (NZL) Coutts Racing Team, 4-4

(Crew: Jes Gram-Hansen, Christian Kamp, Rasmus Kostner, Jann Neergaard)

8. Björn Hansen (SWE) Team Apport.Net, 4-5

(Crew: Mattias Bredin, Andus Jonsson, Pontus Meijer, Johan Templeman)

9. Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa Challenge, 3-7

(Crew: Michele Cannoni, Gaetano Figlia de Granara, Manuel Modena, Massimiliano Sirena)

10. Thierry Peponnet (FRA) K-Challenge, 3-7

(Crew: Benoit Briand, Herve Cunningham, Gilles Favennec, Albert Jacobsoone)

11. Cameron Dunn (NZL) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, 2-8

(Crew: Santino Brizzi, Cicho Chicchetti, Marco Constant, Pietro Mantovani)

12. Sally Barkow (USA) Team 7, 1-8

(Crew: Sofia Bekatorou, Debbie Capozzi, Chafee Emory, Carrie Howe, Annie Lush)