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23 March 2005, 11:32 am
Rankings Released 23 March 2005
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ISAF World Match Race Rankings

Ed BAIRD's (USA) victory in the ISAF Grade 1 International Match Race ensured he remains the number one match racer on the open rankings, whilst Marie BJÖRLING (SWE) will still not be budged from her perch at the top of the women's, in today's release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.
Ed BAIRD (USA) continues to dominate the ISAF Open Match Race Rankings and has now retained the top spot for eight months since winning his second consecutive ISAF Match Racing World Championship in Russia back in July.

Victory in last week's ISAF Grade 1 Marseille International Match Race has extended his lead over Australian Peter GILMOUR by 151 points. Neither GILMOUR nor his fellow countryman, James SPITHILL have made any move in the latest rankings. As a result fourth placed Frenchman Mathieu RICHARD has closed the gap on them thanks to his second place in Marseille.

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BAIRD And RICHARD In The Final Of The
Marseille International Match Race
© Gilles Martin-Raget

Last year's winner of the Marseille International Match Race, Karol JABLONSKI (POL), remains in fifth despite losing over a thousand points this month after he pulled out of this year's event in Marseille. Now right behind JABLONSKI are sixth placed Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), seventh placed Staffan LINDBERG (FIN) and Philippe PRESTI (FRA) at number eight. PRESTI has dropped two places despite finishing above both WILLIAMS and LINDBERG in Marseille. The Briton and the Finn have moved above the Frenchman because they both reached the final of the ISAF Grade 2 JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge Final.

On that day it was LINDBERG that triumphed and his victory has raised him five places in the rankings and he is the only new entry in the top ten displacing Italian Paolo CIAN and also jumping above Lars NORDBJERG (DEN) who drops to tenth. In ninth is the experienced Kiwi, Russell COUTTS (NZL).

Dimitri DERUELLE (FRA), Damien IEHL (FRA) and Mason WOODWORTH (USA) are the big movers in the top fifty. DERUELLE rose from 40 to 27 thanks to his third place in the ISAF Grade 3 event dubbed, February in Antibes. IEHL made an even bigger leap from 60 up to 31, but most impressive of all was the American WOODSWORTH who shot up from 84 to re-enter the top fifty at a career best 36, thanks to a fourth in the JPMorgan Winter Challenge and a fifth in the final of the same event.

24 sailors have joined the rankings increasing the number of ranked sailors to 1,342. The highest new entry is Alexandre SALDANHA (BRA) at 229 after the Brazilian finished third in the ISAF Grade 3 2nd Brazil Match Cup and fourth in the ISAF Grade 3 Match Race Brasil in Salvador. Winner of the Match Race Brasil, Alan ADLER (BRA), climbs 110 places to 181.

Torben GRAEL (BRA) jumps up from 186 to 117 following his third place in the Match Race Brasil. Just two places behind GRAEL is another sailing legend, New Zealander Chris DICKSON, who has climbed even further, up from 235 after finishing third in Marseille. This April DICKSON will be competing at the ISAF Grade 1 Congressional Cup in Long Beach, an event he has won twice before and another victory would see him shoot up the rankings once more. With four sailors (RICHARD, PRESTI, LINDBERG and NORDBJERG) from the top ten of the rankings competing and BAIRD missing the event due to commitments to his America's Cup team, Alinghi, the results in Long Beach could have a dramatic affect on the next rankings of 4 May.

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Two events have counted toward this release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings for the women's teams. Both are ISAF Grade 3 events and they are the JPMorgan Fleming Women's Winter Challenge which took place in Sunbury, Great Britain and the Harken Women's International Match Racing Regatta in Sydney, Australia.

The top five places in the rankings remain secure with Marie BJÖRLING (SWE) holding on to the number one position ahead of Claire LEROY (FRA). LEROY has closed the gap on BJÖRLING and whilst she has added victory at the JPMorgan Fleming Women's Challenge to her already impressive list of results, it is the rotating rankings calculation that has boosted her points. Third overall is Lotte MELDGAARED PEDERSEN (DEN) and snapping at her heels are Jenny AXHEDE (SWE) and Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN) in fourth and fifth respectively.

Whilst there is no change to the top ten, there are however two new entries to the top 20, Australians Katie SPITHILL and Nicky SOUTER enter at 17 and 19 respectively. SPITHILL's rise of seven places can be attributed to her victory at the Harken Women's International Match Racing Regatta, which she won after a nail biting final and she now counts the results of seven events to become the highest ranked Australian. SOUTER, the current Australian Women's Match Racing Champion, also competed in Sydney but did not have quite such a good weekend, finishing sixth overall. She does however count the points and now has six events counting towards her total.

Sliding out of the top 20 to make way for the newcomers are Elizabeth KRATZIG (USA) and Rita GONÇALVES (POR) who are now at number 21 and 22 respectively.

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Action at the Harken International
Women's Match Racing Championship
© Sailsportz
Second in Sydney was Jacqui BONNITCHA and she subsequently leaps 46 points up the ladder to 37. BONNITCHA is one of the highest climbers in this ranking release with two sailors making slightly bigger gains than her. Jessica SMYTH (NZL) is the highest climber and her third in Sydney after knocking out the pre-event favourite SOUTER, has propelled her 48 places up the rankings to enter the top 50 at number 47. SMYTH is counting the results from just three events - is she going to be a skipper to watch in the future?

Josie GIBSON (GBR) has also made a considerable assault on the list and her second place at the JPMorgan Fleming has helped boost her 37 places up to number 40 - an excellent position for a sailor counting only two events. In third place was Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN from the Netherlands but her position at number eight remains unchanged.

There are two new entries to the list which now totals 155 skippers from 20 nations. The highest is Australia's Nina CURTIS whose fourth place at the Harken Women's International means she enters at number 73. This is CURTIS's first ranked women's event as a skipper but she also competes on the open circuit where she has shot up 104 places this ranking relase and has been part of the winning Australian women's match racing championship team for two consecutive years. The other new entry is British Olympic gold medallist Sarah AYTON who made her match racing debut at the JPMorgan Fleming Women's Challenge. Despite finding herself in unfamilar ground at the bottom of the leaderboard, she enters the rankings at number 138.

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The next release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings will take place on 4 May 2005. There could well be some changes at the top of both rankings as the big guns will be out at the ISAF Grade 1 International Women's Match Race Criteriumin in Spain and the ISAF Grade 1 Congressional Cup in California as well as numerous Grade 2, 3 and 4 events.

ISAF. Image, BAIRD Celebrates Victory At The Marseille International Match Race 2005:© Gilles Martin-Raget
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