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Sweden sailor of the Year

Four men in Victory Challenge’s crew receive the prize

lundi 28 janvier 2002

The champagne bottles are opened at the base in Viaduct Harbour in Auckland. Magnus Holmberg, helmsman in Victory Challenge, has at this moment received the message that he and his colleagues Stefan Rahm, Lars Linger and Magnus Augustson are appointed the Sailors of the Year 2001. The Swedish America‚s Cup-challenge’s whole crew is present and is taking part of the toast for the distinction from the Swedish Sailing Federation.

All four of them - without any exception - assures that they are surprised :

"The distinction goes mostly to sailors in the Olympic Games-classes" says Magnus Holmberg.

"It is very rare that anyone outside those classes become Sailor of the Year" says also Magnus Augustson.

"The reason that I’m surprised has nothing to do with our achievements, but that Fredrik Lööf has had such a fantastic year" says Stefan Rahm. (The Olympic Games bronze medallist in Sydney Fredrik Lööf won gold in both the World Championship and the European Championship in Starboat 2001.)

"I also thought that there were others that had done somewhat greater things" says Lars Linger.

The distinction is dispensed to the sailor or sailors that has/have done the best achievement in sailing races. The Sailing Federation has given the Victory Challenge-sailors the prize for their total victory in the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour, the world cup series of match racing. They won the season 2000/2001, they are leading the season 2001/2002 and Magnus Holmberg and his team are since August last year ranked as number one in the world.

All four of them - like their team-mate Mikkel Rossberg (who cannot become the Sailor of the Year in Sweden, as he is Danish) - has taken gold in World Championships during their careers. Three of them have also become the Sailor of the Year previously ; Stefan Rahm 1991, Magnus Holmberg 1992 and 1995, Magnus Augustson 1999.

"I was nominated 1992, but I was mostly sailing with foreigners at that period" says Lars Linger. Among others he sailed with Russell Coutts, with whom he took gold in the World Championship.

Russell Coutts later became skipper for Team New Zealand and won the America’s Cup America's Cup #AmericasCup in 1995 and 2000. Since then he has opted out from New Zealand and is now found as skipper for the Swiss syndicate Alinghi. He has also continued with the world cup tour.

But, is it possible to combine the world cup tour of match racing with preparations for the America’s Cup America's Cup #AmericasCup  ? "At least so far" says Magnus Holmberg. The next world cup event is settled right here in Auckland on 12 to 17 March, which makes it comfortable as this is where Victory Challenge is training in principle every day for the America’s Cup 2003, which starts with the challenger competition Louis Vuitton Cup on October 1st this year.

The fact is that, several of the top men in the next America’s Cup are this season also taking part of the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour. Not only Victory Challenge and Russell Coutts, but also his successor in Team New Zealand, Dean Barker and Peter Holmberg of Oracle Racing, among others. Standings currently show Magnus Holmberg, Peter Holmberg and Dean Barker as number one, two and three.

"It is terrific to take part of the tour and to prepare for America’s Cup" says Stefan Rahm. "Before Victory Challenge we only did some sailing between the competitions. Now as professionals we are sailing extremely much, but there are not so many chances for competitions during the preparations for the America’s Cup, we get that element from the world cup."

Both Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour and America’s Cup is settled by match racing, even if the boats and crew - and everything else is much smaller in the world cup.

Bert Willborg / Information www.victorychallenge.com


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