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Hansen Chases Down Qualifying Leaders

Marstrand, Sweden – 3 July, 2012: Bjorn Hansen has joined Keith Swinton and Ian Williams at the top of the qualifying standings after day two of STENA Match Cup Sweden, the third stage of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.

Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team made his mark on the Qualifying Session in front of home support, adding three additional victories to take his total to five wins from five. On his way, Hansen came out on top in a closely fought flight nine match against Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Miss Sophie, defeating the Australian who now faces an uphill climb to avoid an early exit from the competition. Aware of the need to improve on their one win and five losses in the last Qualifying Session of the event, Mirsky, said: “Clearly we’re not getting the results we’d like to get. We’ve got a new group of guys but we can feel the potential is there even though we’re relearning the boats and haven’t had any practice.

“At the moment we have to just figure out the little subtleties within our team and on the boat but there is a lot of winning to do now even to make the next round. We hope we improve enough to make it through to the Quarter Final but we are on the back foot and we’ll need a good day of sailing.

“We’re still having a great time at the event and we’ll remain positive going into tomorrow.”

Hansen faced a tough task against Mirsky, having picked up a penalty as the boats approached the line to start. Hansen was the windward boat and didn’t keep clear while trying to sail across Mirsky’s bow. Hansen still led over the start line, opting to work the middle of the course whilst Mirsky took his team out to the right hand side where he thought there was better pressure. Hansen kept his lead, rounding the mark onto the first downwind leg and maintained a comfortable lead as they turned through the leeward gate for the second upwind leg.

Still carrying his pre-start penalty, Hansen felt he had enough separation to complete his penalty turn sailing upwind but realised after about a quarter of a turn that it was going to be close. He said: “As we came together with some speed he managed to hook us and there was actually a bit of contact that, luckily for us, the umpires didn’t see. It wasn’t perfect but the guys did a fantastic job on the manoeuvres and trim after that which allowed us to keep the lead.”

As the boats came together for the final time at the end of the final downwind leg, Hansen kept his slender lead and took the win by the smallest of margins. He said: “The guys are doing a fantastic job at the moment, they’ve been key to the good starts we’ve made. It’s still early on in the competition and we’ve had a few close matches but I think we are sailing well and we’re looking forward to the rest of the event.”

“I think that these DS 37 are the best match racing boats in the world and you can race them at up to 40 knots which is not very common. My first Match Cup Sweden was in 1994 so it would be a shame if I didn’t know how to sail them!”

Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing Team managed to continue his fine form and also finished a second day unbeaten to remain as joint leader with Hansen and Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar on five wins after day two. Williams retains his place at joint top of the leaderboard despite taking a shock loss to to local wildcard Viktor Ogeman (SWE) Team Accure in their flight nine match-up. A straightforward victory came after Ogeman led over the start line and remained in front throughout, but it looks like it could be a consolation after other results left him five losses after day two and only a slim chance of progressing.

Ogeman feels that whatever happens, his team will benefit from the experience that they have already gained, having come into the event as a wildcard, saying: “We had a tough first day and even though we knew we were here to learn and prove ourselves, it is always hard to take losses. With the win against Ian [Williams] I think we showed to ourselves that we can be good enough to challenge these guys and that if we eliminate our mistakes, we can be here on a more regular basis soon.

“We’re still staying positive and the last thing we said as we came off the boat is that the Quarter Final is not impossible if we have a great day tomorrow. We won’t be too upset if we don’t make it but it would be huge to be there.”

The loss did not shake Williams and his team from their previous form and they finished up the day with an important win again Peter Gilmour’s (AUS) YANMAR Racing which could prove important come the end of qualifying and subsequent order of picks for the Quarter Final.

STENA Match Cup Sweden Qualifying Session 3 begins at 1200 CET on Wednesday 3rd July after the Pro-Am Races with the Semi Final and Final scheduled for Saturday 7th July. Full schedule and additional information and updates are available at www.wmrt.com.

Follow the action online throughout both events. To watch, visit http://www.wmrt.com/live.html. Live streaming will be available from 1200 – 1400 on Thursday and 1400 – 1600 on Friday and Saturday.

Tour regular Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/wmrt
Live event Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/wmrt_liverace

Results after Qualifying Session 2:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 5-0
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing Team 5-0
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 5-1
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 4-1
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 4-2
Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing 4-2
Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Team Trifork 3-2
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 2-3
Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match 2-4
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 1-4
Reuben Corbett (NZ) AON Racing Team 1-5
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team 1-5
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Miss Sophie 1-5
Viktor Ogeman (SWE) Team Accure 1-5

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