Last weekend saw the last qualifier for the RYA Match Racing National Championships 2004 take place and as such the fight for the remaining places into the final was hotly contested between 12 teams at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy.
With many well known national match racers including Gemma FARRELL, Jamie REID, Lizzie EDWARDS and Ed MOCKRIDGE amongst the line up, the weekend was incredibly competitive with newcomers also vying for the remaining places into the finals on the 8-10 October.
The conditions for match racing were perfect and as teams went head to head in a series matches in one round robin, the sailors were able to draw upon all their skills to defeat the opposition. In 10 - 15 knots of wind Cambridge University Sailing Captain, Jamie REID used his boat on boat tactics learnt in team racing to remain undefeated over night. Similarly Gemma FARRELL and her team sailed a perfect day without a single loss. Also featuring at this stage were Mark LEES, who has already qualified, Alex ADAMS and newcomer, Jon BLACKBURN, all with 3 wins and two losses.
On Sunday, as the teams progressed through the round robin, it became apparent that three boats were in contention for two remaining qualification places. Jamie REID, Simon WHEELER and Gemma FARRELL had all won 10 races and only lost to each other.
The result left a three way tie after Wheeler defeated Farrell. With the evening fast approaching race organisers decided to go straight into a one race tie-break. It was Farrell and Wheeler who lined up for the fight for first place. Sailing with experienced match racer, Alex CHERRY and her normal team of Julia SCOTT, Charlie ODELL and Lucy BURN, Gemma FARRELL displayed excellent speed and tactical prowess to win the crunch match and the weekend. Speaking to Gemma after the race she said;
"We sailed an excellent weekend and I feel that our success was down to our team work. We are thrilled to have won our first match racing event and it has made the team more determined to rise up the ISAF Women's Match Race Rankings in the future. For the meantime; bring on the finals!"
After eight different qualification weekends the line up for the finals is now complete. From 8-10 October the countries best match races will converge on Weymouth to campaign for the title of RYA National Match Racing Champion 2004.
Top Six: W/L
1. Gemma Farrell 10/1
2. Simon Wheeler 10/1
3. Jamie Reid 10/1
4. Mark Lees 7/4
5. Sam North 7/4
6. Jon Blackburn 5/6