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Holmberg wins Congressional Cup

Holmberg retained his number one ranking after winning the Congressional Cup  

LONG BEACH, California -- American Peter Holmberg won his fourth Congressional Cup in five years when he took the honour at Long Beach, California this weekend.

"I sweated more than in any other final," Holmberg said after beating New Zealander Gavin Brady, 2-1, in a fickle breeze.

"Gavin made us work real hard," Holmberg said. "To win this one is huge."

Holmberg came to Long Beach freshly ranked number one after winning the previous two events on the international Swedish Match Tour. Holmberg collected $6,000 of the $25,000 prize money.

Except for a three-race slump at the start of the second round robin, he and his crew from billionaire Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing America's Cup campaign had 15 wins in 18 races to go into the knockout series.

Then they beat Britain's Andy Green in the semi-finals, 2-1, before dispatching Brady.

Holmberg, 40, joins Rod Davis as a four-time Congressional Cup winner in what was one of the strongest fields ever with seven America's Cup teams on the water.

Brady, 29, who races for the Italian Prada America's Cup team with Davis, won the Congressional Cup in 1996 and 1997. He reached the finals by winning six of his last seven races, including a 2-0 sweep of Team Dennis Conner's Ken Read in the semi-finals.

The fifth and last day of the event was tough on all the competitors who were on the water for seven hours.

Green, from the UK's GBR Challenge, won a three-way tiebreaker with Denmark's Jes Gram-Hansen and New Zealand's Scott Dickson, to advance to the semi-finals from a 9-9 deadlock. Green then pushed Holmberg all the way eventually going down 2-1.

In the final, Brady drew Holmberg into a foul during the pre-start manoeuvring for tactical advantage. Holmberg cancelled out the foul on the first downwind leg by planting one on Brady, who the umpires ruled had sailed above his proper course to the mark to keep Holmberg at bay. But Brady held on to win by 15 seconds.

By then the wind had dropped to 8-10 knots, less than ideal breeze for the heavy Catalina 37s to flex their muscle, but Holmberg again proved to be a master. He led Brady across the start line by pinching just inside the left marker flag and stretched his lead throughout to win by 61 seconds.

In the deciding third race Holmberg held a lead of two or three boat lengths all the way to finish 13 seconds ahead.


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