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Steinlager Line 7 Cup: Paul Cayard And AmericaOne Take The Title

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 28, 1999

STEINLAGER LINE 7 CUP
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, Sunday
DAY NINE - MAIN SERIES

AmericaOne skipper Paul Cayard swept to a 3-1 victory to take the Steinlager Line 7 Cup in Auckland today.

Racing against Team New Zealand's rising star, Dean Barker, Cayard took his second title in this event on his second outing. He last won the series in 1996 against Chris Law of Great Britain.

For Barker and his Team New Zealand crewmates, the runners-up slot had a certain grim familiarity as well. This is their second attempt at the title and once again they found themselves falling just short at the final hurdle.

In the 1997 Steinlager Line 7 series they finished 2nd to Team New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts.

"Maybe we can do it next year," Barker said.

Cayard, sailing with an AmericaOne crew of John Kostecki, Sean Clarkson, Morgan Trubovich and Curtis Blewett, posted his intentions by convincingly winning the first match of the final from start to finish.

In their second encounter, early control went to Cayard, but halfway up the first beat Barker and his Team New Zealand crew of Hamish Pepper, Tony Rae, James Dagg and Chris Ward had grabbed the advantage. At the top mark, both boats put in a flurry of tacks and Barker won the duel by extracting a port-starboard penalty from the AmericaOne team. The Barker team led around the track for the rest of the match.

Their third encounter saw a more subdued start with both boats immediately engaging in a long drag race side by side out to the right side of the course with Cayard to windward and Barker tucked close under him to leeward.

When they finally disengaged close to the starboard layline, Cayard held the advantage and increased his lead around the course to take the gun.

With the score at 2-1 to Cayard in the best-of-five format, Barker had to win the fourth match to keep his hopes of the title alive. But, after an excellent pre-start battle, it all turned bad when the Team New Zealand crew was judged over the line before the start. By the time they had restarted, it was really all over. By sailing valiantly, they eroded Cayard's lead on every leg, but could not peg back enough ground to threaten the AmericaOne team's lead.

"We basically lost communication and next thing we were over," said a disappointed Barker. "We felt the flag (signalling their premature start) went up quite late, which cost us any chance of dipping back behind the line and putting in a quick tack. That way, we would have kept right in touch. But, it was an unforced error and something we will have to improve on."

Barker initiated a red flag protest against the race committee for the late flag, but it was dismissed.

Cayard was thrilled to gain his second title, particularly as he felt he had lost some of his match racing touch after time out to do the Whitbread Round the World Race. "I feel it is starting to come back," he said.

Today's racing also settled 3rd and 4th places, with Ed Baird of Young America taking the petite final from Chris Dickson of New Zealand by 2-1. Places 5-10 were also decided in a separate round robin.

The battle for the minor places worked to the advantage of at least one of the America's Cup crews, as the Prada Challenge from Italy went from last place after two round robins to a much more respectable 5th. It did not do much to improve the fortunes of the America True team, however, which finished 9th.

Steinlager Line 7 Cup Final Results:

1. Paul Cayard (USA)
2. Dean Barker (NZL)
3. Ed Baird (USA)
4. Chris Dickson (NZL)
5. Francesco de Angelis (ITA)
6. Chris Law (GBR)
7. Gavin Brady (NZL)
8. Magnus Holmberg (SWE)
9. John Cutler (USA)
10. Dean Salthouse (NZL)

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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