Major match racing began in Calpe six years ago with the introduction of the International Women Match Race Criterium in 1999. An ISAF Grade 2 event for the first two years of it's existent, when it was won both times by Dorte JENSEN (DEN), the Criterium soon went on to establish itself as one of the most important events on the women's match racing circuit and was consequently upgraded to an ISAF Grade 1 event from 2001 onwards.
Marie BJÖRLING (SWE) was the first sailor to win the Criterium as an ISAF Grade 1 event, followed by BAYLIS' victory at the Worlds in 2002. Sweden claimed the title again in 2003 and 2004 thanks to Malin MILLBOURN (SWE) and Jenny AXHEDE respectively. This year Klartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED) broke the Swedish stranglehold, beating Claire LEROY (FRA) 3-2 in a tightly fought final.
There has been more Scandinavian success for the men match racing in Calpe. The Real Club Náutico Calpe has twice hosted the ISAF Grade 2 European Match Racing Championship, last year renamed as the EuroSAF Open Match Racing Championship. At the first event in Calpe back in 2002, Denmark's Jesper RADICH defeated Fracois BRENAC (FRA) in the final with two other Danes, Jes GRAM-HANSEN and Lars NORDBJERG coming in third and fourth.
|Bjorn HANSEN is one of the
several Scandinavians who have
enjoyed success in Calpe
© Dan Ljungsvik
For RICHARD, HANSEN, LINDBERG and PRESTI, previous experience of competition on the Calpe waters could well give them a head start over their rivals. None of the other eight competitors has ever sailed at an ISAF Graded event in the Calpe, including home sailor Santiago LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ (ESP), whilst world number one GILMOUR, Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV (RUS) and Sébastian COL (FRA) have never sailed in an ISAF Graded event in Spain at all.
Competitors and spectators alike are sure of an impressive spectacle in Calpe before the racing in the four-man TOM 28s even begins. The town combines the charms of it's traditional fishing village and the bustle of a port. The waters of Calpe make for a stunning venue as part of a Spanish Nature reserve with the famous Costa Brava landmark of el Peñon de Ifach, the largest single rock in the Mediterranean, forming an imposing backdrop to the action on the water.
After registration and weighing a week today, the first of five days of racing in Calpe gets underway on 13 September.