Dean Barker beats Gavin Brady to win the ACI Cup and Magnus Holmberg’s third place is good enough to secure this year’s Swedish Match series title

Split has been sweltering all week, without any sign of a decent breeze to stir the summer air, but it’s not just the residents feeling the heat. Team New Zealand’s strike helmsman Dean Barker has been as polite as he can about the breathless conditions here but it was very clear he was feeling both heat and pressure when he went out for the semis.

But ironically it was his mentor Bertrand Pacé who flaked first. As well as the madness inspired by trying to sail with no wind, the skippers had to contend with a shortened schedule due to the delays that meant the semis became a matter of first two sailors to win two races. Brady and Barker both went through after beating Pacé and Holmberg respectively 2-0.

Barker and Brady shared two very circumspect races before Barker clinched the third to win the ACI Cup but their race was upstaged a little by the petit final: last year’s Swedish Match series champion Bertrand Pacé racing against this year’s series leader Magnus Holmberg.

Holmberg won two straight to take third place. The 15 points he acquired in this, the sixth event of the Swedish Match series, sent him into an unassailable overall lead with two events still to sail. Sweden’s Victory America’s Cup challenge, with which Holmberg is linked, will be delighted.

“We still haven’t won the Swedish Match Cup,” said Holmberg, referring to the final event in the series in Göteborg, “which is in our hometown and we look forward to winning that event as the icing on the cake.”

The seventh event in the series is Match Race Lake Constance but the deposed champion won’t be there, he’s needed back in Auckland on America’s Cup duty.

ACI Cup, Croatia, Split
Final standings1. Dean Barker (Team New Zealand)2. Gavin Brady (Prada Challenge)3. Magnus Holmberg (Team Stora Enso)4. Bertrand Pace (Team New Zealand)5. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN)6. Rod Davis (Prada Challenge)7. Andy Green (GBR Challenge)8. Jesper Radich (DEN)