Niklas Zennström fights back in Audi MedCup


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Seven down, two races to go, and all to play for as Niklas Zennström fought back from a pair of setbacks to reclaim joint top place going into the final day of the Barcelona Trophy in the Audi MedCup series.

He sailed his 52-foot Rán to its third win of the week, which on countback means that he is ahead of the local favourite, Bribón, making its farewell in the hands of its owner, José Cusi.

The other sub-plot is that Bribón was the only boat which could challenge the American yacht Quantum as overall champion for the five-regatta 2011 series and Quantum’s skipper Ed Baird is using all his guile to make sure that does not happen.

As well as scoring a first and a second he made sure that he always had Bribón under control, something which can do no harm to Zennström on the final day.

Quantum could even sneak the Barcelona silverware as it is only four points adrift of the top spot and has a healthy 14-point lead for the season as a whole. And even if he cam last in the two races and Bribón won both Quantum would still win on countback. Disqualifications for excessive bad behaviour is the only threat.

“And we want to win the Barcelona Trophy as well,” said Adrian Stead, the British Olympian who is Baird’s tactician.

Zennström may be able to see it, even smell it, but there is some work to do before he can hold the trophy aloft and complete a season which has seen him win back-to-back trophies for the Fastnet Race and the mini-maxis in his 72-footer of the same name.

He survived two protest situations and a penalty in the third cost him only one place, but no-one is going to wave him through.

In the Soto 40 division, the British team on Ngoni, with Jez Fanstone joining the crew following the departure of owner Tony Buckingham, moved up to third overall in the Barcelona regatta.

A third, a fourth and a first put Ngoni within five points of class leader Iberdrola, which has been the team to beat all season, with two races scheduled for the final day, Saturday.

British Olympic medallist Chris Draper took Team Korea to a semi-final clash with Sweden’s Artemis, skippered by Terry Hutchinson, in the best of three semi-final of the America’s Cup World Series in Plymouth. Russell Coutts, now of the Cup holder Oracle, faced the man to whom he handed over the helm of Team New Zealand, Dean Barker, in the other half of the draw.