Magnus Holmberg was looking pretty dejected in the media zone after racing today. Hopefully the tobacco schnuss jammed under his top lip was helping to dispel the pain of missing a place in the final four of the LVC.
When the Kiwis made that disastrous start, the door briefly flew open for the Swedes to shut Spain out of the Semi Finals. However the Swedish gybes always looked ragged (not to mention hard work for bowman Pepe Ribes who shimmied up to the end of the spinnaker pole after every gybe) and maybe that’s why they gybed away from the right-hand side down the run with three minutes of sailing still left to do.
They didn’t want to take on the Kiwis in a simultaneous gybing situation on the layline. That was a battle that Team Tough was bound to win. So when the Swedes peeled away, the Kiwis held on and benefited from the better breeze for another two minutes before gybing, and that was the difference.
However in the Swedes’ defence, let’s not forget that this was a late campaign, and it was the highest-finishing one-boat campaign (ahead of the two-boat Mascalzone challenge). So it’s not all bad for the Swedes.
Holmberg commented: “At this moment I can’t see that much we could have done differently. Maybe we could have cut down the build time and got the boat earlier, but then again we got a boat that was really fast and rock solid. “I’m sure that when we sit down and evaluate the project we’ll find things that we could have done differently.
"But under the circumstances where we were last spring, I think we’ve made some pretty good decisions. I think fighting for one of the Semi Final spots with one of the smallest budgets is quite awesome, actually.”
Tactician Stefan Rahm sounded like he felt a bit robbed. “Right now we are probably one of the four teams that should have gone through - maybe. All the teams have been pressed by us, both in the pre-start and around the race course.”
What was surprising was that it was boathandling that seemed to let the Swedes down at crucial moments, and that’s something they should have been able to nail with the in-house training in their old boats. Where the team scored highly, however, was in the boat SWE 96, a credit to the Frers design team and Killian Bushe and his boatbuilding team.
Don’t be surprised to see the boat invited for some training with the eventual challenger a few weeks from now. Rahm said: “Together with Mascalzone I think we have a boat that is quite similar to Alinghi, both in terms of acceleration and volume in the bow which is fairly similar, so that might be something the challenger can learn from.”