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Steinlager Line 7 Cup: Barker, Cayard, Dickson, Baird Go to Semi-Finals

Short of the America's Cup, this year's Steinlager Line 7 Cup match race regatta has attracted one of the most powerful line-ups of match racers ever assembled in Auckland. The regatta has a hall of fame look about it with six of the seven skippers in the main draw either current or former America's Cup helmsmen. Two more America's Cup skippers earned their way to the main series by their performances in a preliminary series. The format is two round robins, followed by a best-of-seven semi-finals and a best-of-seven finals.

PRESS RELEASE: March 26, 1999


Of the four skippers who made it through to the semi-finals of the Steinlager Line 7 Cup in Auckland today, only Dean Barker of Team New Zealand has not won the title before. But, the 25-year-old showed the others the way by winning the double round robin with a 14-4 win-loss record.

He was joined in the top four by Paul Cayard, Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and winner of the 1996 Steinlager Line 7 Cup, Ed Baird, a double winner in 1991 and 1995, and Chris Dickson, who has held the title three times, in 1982, 1985 and 1989.

AmericaOne skipper Cayard finished the double rounds on 13 wins, while Young America skipper Ed Baird was tied with Dickson on 12 wins each. In last year's regatta Barker was runner-up to his boss, Team New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts, narrowly losing in a remarkable debut year as a match race skipper.

Now, sailing with Team New Zealand crewmates Hamish Pepper, Tony Rae, James Dagg and Chris Ward, he has emerged as the one to beat for the title. He has the right to choose his semi-final opponent, but was keeping his decision close to his chest. "I will have to consult the crew first and make sure they are comfortable with the choice," he said.

"If I was Dean I would pick me," said Chris Dickson. "I am probably the easiest. We are lucky to be through and happy to be through."

That modest assessment did not take account of the fact that Dickson was the clear winner of Round Robin Two, winning every match except the last one, when he fell to Barker. Dickson has been out of the match race circuit for nearly five years, but showed that while he may have lost some of the polish that led him to three world titles, he has not forgotten the basic skills and, even in a star-studded fleet, remains a dangerous and unpredictable opponent.

Although the remaining six crews are out of the running for the title, they will continue sailing in a round robin race off for places 5-10.

The semi finals will be decided tomorrow in a first-to-win-three (best of five) format. The finals will be on Sunday on the same format while the petite final (3rd & 4th) will be first to win two (best of three). Racing to complete the second Round Robin today took place in brisk 18-23 knot north-easterly winds, with a brief stand-down as sustained winds of over 25 knots, gusting to 31 knots, blasted down the course. Along with the shoreside spectators who watched the action from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, invited guests were also treated to a close view from the Line 7 floating grandstand, a barge complete with marquee, commentary, sit-down lunch and bar stationed next to the starting area.

ROUND ROBIN TWO Results (combined with Round Robin 1 scores):

DEAN BARKER (NZL) beat Cayard (USA), Cutler (USA), de Angelis (ITA), Law (GBR), Holmberg (SWE), Baird (USA), Dickson (NZL) = 14pt

PAUL CAYARD (USA) beat Salthouse (NZL), Law (GBR), Brady (NZL), Cutler
(USA), Holmberg (SWE) = 13pt

CHRIS DICKSON (NZL) beat de Angelis (ITA), Cayard (USA), Cutler (USA),
Baird (USA), Salthouse (NZL), Brady (NZL), Law (GBR), Holmberg (SWE) =

ED BAIRD (USA) beat Holmberg (SWE), Cutler (USA), Cayard (USA),
Salthouse (NZL), de Angelis (ITA) = 12pt

GAVIN BRADY (NZL) beat Baird (USA), Barker (NZL), de Angelis (ITA),
Cutler (USA), Salthouse (NZL) = 9pt

CHRIS LAW (GBR) beat Brady (NZL), Holmberg (SWE), Baird (USA), Salthouse
(NZL), Cutler (USA) = 9pt

MAGNUS HOLMBERG (SWE) beat Brady (NZL), Salthouse (NZL), de Angelis
(ITA), Cutler (USA) = 5pt

DEAN SALTHOUSE (NZL) beat de Angelis (ITA), Barker (NZL) = 7pt

JOHN CUTLER (USA) beat Salthouse (NZL), de Angelis (ITA) = 5pt

FRANCESCO DE ANGELIS (ITA) beat Law (GBR), Cayard (USA) = 4pt

For more about this major match race series go to the Steinlager Line Seven Cup official web site. Also visit the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron site. For more in this series of reports, look at AmericaOne's Grand Prix Sailing News page.


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