News; Sep 10, 2004 CET

Swedish Match Cup with world star Peter Gilmore

With its 150,000 spectators during the first week in July, the Swedish Match Cup in match race sailing is one of Sweden’s largest public events. The world’s best sailors from the prestigious America’s Cup come to the west coast of Sweden to participate in the event that all other organizers on the global Swedish Match Tour try to match.

One of the most well-known and merited sailors on the tour is the Australian Peter Gilmour. This summer, when he arrived for the final race at Marstrand with his Japanese Pizza-La sailing team, he was already the clear winner of the 2003-2004 Swedish Match Tour. In addition, he came to the island as a five-time winner during his ten years with the Swedish Match Cup and was naturally hungry for yet another victory.

Gilmour participated in all races during the 2003 - 2004 Swedish Match Tour. These included the opening event in Copenhagen in August 2003 and the autumn’s races in Bermuda and Japan, as well as competitions off the Italian Mediterranean island Elba, in Croatia, on the Lake Constance and finally in Marstrand. Despite having participating in most of the races many times, Gilmour is always careful to arrive in good time and to make meticulous preparations before the start of each race. All organizers offer an opportunity to test the match racing boats for at least a few hours, since different boats are used in the different events. Although the Swedish Match Tour in collaboration with Pelle Pettersson and Gothenburg-based Maxi Nimbus has developed a match race boat that will be standard on the tour, it has thus far only been purchased for the newly started event in Portugal. Every opportunity to test the advanced competition equipment is thus welcome.

"Although we recognize most of the boats from previous years, considerable time has passed, so we need to refresh our knowledge and practice various maneuvers again," explains Gilmour. "The boats in Marstrand also have fine new rigs that we need to learn about. There may be small details, such as the spinnaker halyard being on the port rather than the starboard side of the mast, and the pattern of movements on the boat needs to be adjusted to take the change into account," continues Gilmour.

Test sailing also provides a valuable opportunity to get a feel for the water and local conditions. Everything must be studied to minimize mistakes when the race is underway. Gilmour is methodical and in fact a perfectionist.

IN THE MIDDLE OF the race week, there is a Pro Am day when the sponsors and their guests are given an opportunity to participate in a special race. Mats Rosenqvist, who normally works in Swedish Match’s Group Human Resources, was one of the chosen few who had a chance to join Gilmour in this year’s race. Mats was assigned a position next to the Australian by the mainsail and was clearly enthralled by the experience.

"It was absolutely fantastic! We gave it everything we had, and at times there was less than half a meter between the boats. Gilmour gave me instructions the whole time as to how I should adjust the mainsail," relates Mats.

"Being part of the Swedish Match Cup is important for both employees and customers. Here we have a unique opportunity to make closer contact and to create values and culture," adds Mats.

EACH RACE DAY STARTS with an early morning meeting for all skippers during which lots are drawn for placement of the boats before the start of the day’s race. The race managers and the chief umpire also participate in these meetings, so there is an opportunity to ask questions about everything from interpretations of the rules to the finer points of sailing instructions and the notice of race. Gilmour is experienced, well-prepared and knowledgeable. He nods knowingly during the short briefing and asks only a few curt questions as a check. Race days end with a well-attended press conference at which attendance is obligatory for the helmsmen. This is followed by a debriefing with the umpires. At this meeting, the day’s events are reviewed, and a detailed analysis is conducted of the umpires’ rulings. The day ends with dinner at one of Marstrand’s many restaurants, which take turns inviting the different teams to sample local specialties served in generous sailor portions.

"It is really nice of the organizers to let us try different restaurants during the week, to get out and meet not only the great people of Sweden but guests from all over the world" says Gilmour.

IN THIS YEAR’S Swedish Match Cup, the popular Australian had to settle for second place after having collided with another finalist, the New Zealander Russell Coutts, in the final sailing. It was a hard collision that knocked Coutts down in his boat.

"My sight was blocked for just a second. The margins are so small that it was enough for us to crash," says Gilmour apologetically. "Winning in sport is not dissimilar to business, it is not always about being first it is about striving to be your best all the time and learning from the small mistakes you make so that you may be better next time" reflected Gilmour. Gilmour promises to return next year to compete for yet another victory at Marstrand. We look forward to his visit.