Peter Holmberg has opened a 5-0 lead in early round racing during Stage 3 of World Match Racing Tour 17/8/06

Alinghi helmsman Peter Holmberg has opened a 5-0 lead in early round racing at St Moritz Match Race, Stage 3 of the 2006-’07 World Match Racing Tour.

Holmberg looked on form yesterday despite not having sailed a Grade 1 event since finishing eighth in St Mortitz last year. His time has been consumed with testing and training for Alinghi’s defense of the America’s Cup.

Day 1 of the 4th annual regatta at the top of the world got off to a slow start. A weather system produced rain showers in the morning and sapped the area of wind.

Group A took to Lake St Moritz for racing shortly after midday, but could only complete its pre-round fleet race. The wind died away afterwards and as the time approached 1500 the race committee postponed the seven crews for the day.

That put Group B on the water and the local Maloja wind filled to provide the energy to get the boats around the course. The Maloja, a south-westerly wind that funnels up the Maloja Pass from Italy, started around 6 or 8 knots and built to nearly 15 knots late in the day.

With the Maloja in Lake St Moritz served up its trademark bag of tricks. No lead is safe on the lake as the wind can shift 30 degrees in the blink of an eye. To compensate for the shifts the race committee used three different windward marks at times.

Sébastian Col (FRA), Areva Challenge, is gunning for an unprecedented third consecutive Grade 1 victory. He finished the day at 3-2 and was mostly pleased, although he said his crew has to be more flexible when it comes to reading the wind.

“We need to focus on the wind at the moment and wait for the new wind to come, rather than trying to predict what will happen,” said Col. “This wind is unpredictable.”

Col had one of the best passes of the day. Trailing Flavio Favini (ITA), Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, beginning the run to the finish of their Flight 5 match, both crews set off on port gybe as a puff swept down the course.

The two boats kicked up onto a plane, but they were well outside the layline to the committee boat end of the line. As the boats screamed along Col, on Favini’s windward quarter, snapped a jibe to starboard. Favini was slow matching and Col rolled him to grab the win.

The field of 14 has been split into two groups of seven. Each will sail a single round robin with the top three from each advancing to the Quarterfinal Round. The remaining teams sail a repechage round with the top two advancing to the quarters.

Group B will be first on the water today to sail the two remaining flights. After that Group A will go out for its seven flights.

Results (provisional) Group B
(After 5 of 7 scheduled flights)
1. Peter Holmberg (ISV) Alinghi, 5-0 (Crew: Yves Detrey, Julien DiBiase)
2. Eric Monnin (SUI) Team, 3-1 (Crew: Jean-Claude Monnin, Marc Monnin)
3. Sebastian Col (FRA) Areva Challenge, 3-2 (Crew: Christophé Andre, Teva Plichard)
4. Ian Ainslie (RSA) Team Shosholoza, 1-3 (Crew: Matteo Paulin, Alex Runciman)
T. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Viano Mercedes Benz, 1-3 (Crew: Pierluigi Fornelli, Nello Pavoni)
T. Flavio Favini (ITA) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, 1-3 (Crew: Daniele De Luca, Flavio Grassi)
7. Wearn Haw Tan (SIN) China Team, 0-4 (Crew: Charles Lim, Olivier Vigoureux)