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Steinlager Line 7 Cup: Cayard and Barker Are Finalists

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 27, 1999

STEINLAGER LINE 7 CUP
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, Saturday
DAY EIGHT - MAIN SERIES

Dean Barker of Team New Zealand will face off against Paul Cayard of AmericaOne in the final of the 1999 Steinlager Line 7 Cup on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour tomorrow.

Barker won the double round robin and elected to sail against Young America skipper Ed Baird in the semi-final today, leaving Cayard to race off against Chris Dickson of New Zealand.

Cayard and Dickson had some fiery encounters, particularly in the third match when they collided heavily during the pre-start leaving the bow pulpit on Dickson's boat buckled like a pretzel. Dickson picked up two penalties in the process and, despite making a fight of it all the way round the track, could not overcome such a handicap. He trailed across the line by 23 seconds, which gave the final berth to Cayard by a convincing 3-0 margin.

The Baird-Barker encounter was slightly less clear-cut. Baird led off the start in the first race, but Barker came from behind on the first beat and managed to overtake.

On the second windward leg, however, Barker failed to cover his opponent and let him go away to the left side of the course. Baird picked up a huge windshift and profited mightily, leading around the second windward mark and protecting his advantage all the way to a 32 second win.

In the next three matches, Barker and his Team New Zealand made no mistakes, although on the first beat of the second match Barker's supporters looked on anxiously as the two yachts split for the entire leg. But, when they converged, Barker had the starboard advantage and Baird was forced to duck his transom.

Once in the lead in that and the succeeding two matches, Barker played it strictly by the books, clamping a cover on his opponent and protecting his lead to three successive wins to claim the finals slot.

Neither Cayard nor Barker would make predictions about their final encounter tomorrow. Said Barker: "I am sure it is going to be close. Paul and his team are sailing well. I am pleased with the way we are going too. It is all going to depend on who goes well on the day."

Apart from the semi-final matches, all the other competitors were back on the course, sailing off for places 5-10. With two flights left to complete tomorrow, Gavin Brady (NZL), Chris Law (GBR), Francesco de Angelis (ITA) and Magnus Holmberg (SWE) were all tied on two wins each, while John Cutler (USA) of America True had one and Dean Salthouse none.

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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