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Participation of Eight America's Cup Skippers Brings Promise of Exciting Sailing

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Eight skippers, representing seven America's Cup teams, will contest the first event on the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour, the Steinlager/Line 7 Cup, on Waitemata Harbour, starting March 21 in Auckland, NZ. This impressive line-up is indicative of the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour's place in the world of international sailing and with so many Cup sailors involved, the action promises to be exciting. The Steinlager/Line 7 Cup is hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the home of the America's Cup.

Team New Zealand, the successful defenders of the Cup, has two skippers in the series, Dean Barker and Cameron Appleton. Barker is the new "golden boy" of sailing, having taken over the helm of Black Magic for the last race of the America's Cup, and winning, to secure the successful defense of the Cup.

Paul Cayard's AmericaOne, the defeated Louis Vuitton Cup finalist, will be represented at the Steinlager/Line 7 Cup by Gavin Brady, who was the match racing strategist in their afterguard. Also staying on in New Zealand to compete in the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour is Peter Holmberg, Team Dennis Conner's afterguard on Stars & Stripes. Another holdover is Australia's James Spithill, the youngest skipper in the America's Cup, who earned the respect of his peers by sailing an out-dated boat in that series and is looking forward to taking on the rest of the field on equal terms.

More skippers competing in the Steinlager/Line 7 Cup include Frenchman Bertrand Pace, a former world match racing champion, who skippered Le Defi Francis in the Louis Vuitton Cup and Peter Gilmour, another former world match racing champion, who will bring the core of his Nippon crew.

Gilmour, a veteran of many years on the international circuit, commented, "The Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour is a tremendous environment to be racing in. It's the breeding ground for tough, young, up-and-coming America's Cup sailors. And, for people such as myself, it's a great chance just to keep my hand in, to stay active and current."

Of the non-America's Cup skippers, Frenchman Luc Pillot, Denmark's Jes Gram Hansen, Swede Magnus Holmberg and Marcus Weiser of Germany are ranked, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th in the world respectively. Joining them, and making a temporary return to the match racing scene in a break from an Olympic campaign, is veteran Kiwi skipper Chris Dickson, former match racing world champion, and skipper of three America's Cup challengers.

"This impressive roster of skippers legitimizes the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour as the premiere series for professional sailors," stated Scott MacLeod, Tour Director. "The true value of the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour was evidenced in the skill displayed by skippers Russell Coutts and Dean Barker in the recent America's Cup. Their success was due, in no small part, to their extensive match race experience on the Tour."

Following closely after the Steinlager/Line 7 Cup is the Sun Microsystems Australia Cup, March 27-April 2, hosted by the former holders of the America's Cup, the Royal Perth Yacht Club in Western Australia. The twelve skipper line-up for the Sun Microsystems Cup is also impressive, with ten skippers moving on from Auckland, including six of the America's Cup sailors.

The Steinlager/Line 7 Cup event is the first of eight events on the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour, with a total prize purse of US$150,000, in addition to US$400,000 available from the individual events. Also on the line at each Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour event are valuable tour points (100 points in Auckland) which will determine the end of year Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour champion.

In addition to 30 hours of host broadcast television coverage, the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour will distribute eight, half-hour programs worldwide through a partnership with Octagon/CSI (a leading global distributor of sports and entertainment programs.)

Swedish Match Grand Prix AB is an international joint venture company with its head offices in Stockholm, Sweden. Swedish Match Grand Prix AB partners include Swedish Match, Octagon Marketing and the Match Race Association.

Swedish Match is an international manufacturing company that produces an extensive range of OTP (Other Tobacco Products: smokeless tobacco, cigars and pipe tobacco) and matches and lighters, which are sold in 140 countries. The company's sales for the twelve-month period ending September 30, 1999 were approximately USD 1.1 billion. The Swedish Match share is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange (SWMA) and NASDAQ (SWMAY).

Octagon Worldwide is a leading international sports marketing firm, specializing in event management, corporate consultancy and athlete and property representation.

The Match Racing Association is a Bermuda-based association of leading professional sailing events.

Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour Schedule of Events

Date   Event Location
March 20-25   Steinlager/ Line 7 Cup Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
March 27- April 2   Sun Microsystems Australia Cup Perth, AUSTRALIA
May 22-31   ACI Cup2000/ISAF World Match Race Championships Split, CROATIA
June 8-12   Match Race Lake Constance Presented by Volvo Lake Constance, GERMANY
July 3-9   Swedish Match Cup Marstrand, SWEDEN
July 11-16   Trofeo Challenge Roberto Trombini Match Race Ravenna, ITALY
Aug. 15-20   Danish Open 2000 Copenhagen, DENMARK
Oct. 22-29   Colorcraft Gold Cup Hamilton, BERMUDA

Other STEINLAGER/LINE 7 CUP Press Releases


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