At the completion of the round-robin portion of the Cadillac Columbus Cup regatta yesterday, two things were perfectly clear: New Zealand had rallied to finish in first place, and Denmark was firmly in second. From there, the standings were something of a puzzle for a while.
Team USA, Japan and Team Baltimore finished the six flights of the round robin with 3-3 records. Of those three teams, only two could make the final four that may race today.
As it turned out, based on head-to-head competition, Team USA and Japan were in and Team Baltimore was gone, dropped to fifth place because it had lost to Japan and been disqualified jointly with Team USA on Thursday.
Team USA was placed third because it beat Japan yesterday.
Skipper Russell Coutts and New Zealand entered yesterday's racing with a 2-1 record and well behind Valdemar Bandolowski and Team Denmark, which had a 4-0 record through two days of racing.
Yesterday, however, with the wind ranging from 4 to 12 knots and a light rain falling, New Zealand racked up three victories, including a defeat of Denmark and a victory in a makeup match with Japan.
"We came away from today feeling pretty good," said Coutts, who also beat Team Brazil yesterday. "Our race with Japan may have been more or less a final within a regatta. Without the victory over Japan, we'd have been out of it."
Had Japan beaten New Zealand, the two teams would have been tied and Japan would have gone to today's championship round based on head-to-head competition.
Instead, Denmark and New Zealand will square off this morning on the Chesapeake Bay off the mouth of the Patapsco River.
The National Weather Service forecast calls for mostly cloudy and breezy conditions with a 40 percent chance of showers. Highs should be in the mid and upper 70s. Wind should be from the southeast at 10 to 20 mph.
The championship match is scheduled as a best two-out-of-three series. The seventh series of matches in the round robin will not be sailed this year.
Skipper Kin Yellott's Team Baltimore performed well and was
much improved over last year, when it finished in seventh place, ahead of only the Soviet team.
A loss to Japan yesterday and the disqualification with Team USA prevented it from making the final four.
"We would have liked to have seen a little more wind [yesterday]," Yellott said. "Still, we had a very close race with Japan, and it all came down to one leeward mark rounding where they beat us by about four feet.
"Last year we beat the Soviets, but we weren't even in the hunt with any of the other boats. This year we had an awful lot of fun and my crew was superb. They were hot.
"In every race we were definitely right there."
Well, if Team Baltimore had beaten Japan, it would have been in the top four and matched against Team USA.
Coutts said last night that there is a chance the race between Team USA and Japan might not be sailed today. Race officials were not available to comment.