The Swedish project management company Sailnet recently presented the Lysekil Women's Match, the new major women's match racing event to be sailed from 3-8 August this year.
With 40,000 Euros prize money and a line-up including the world's top 12 women match racing skippers, the Lysekil Women's Match will be the leading international event for women's match racing. Oil company Preem and the municipality of Lysekil are backing the event, which is organised by the yacht club Lysekils SS Gullmar.
"We've fought long for this, and are overjoyed to see the Lysekil Women's Match finally becoming reality,"
says initiator and project manager Anna HOLMDAHL, who for many years has been tactician on Marie BJÖRLING'S Team Panorama representing the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club (GKSS).
"To Preem, it feels good to support a regatta of this magnitude, when it's held in our home waters,"
says Michael LÖW, president and CEO of Preem Petroleum.
"We hope that this is the beginning of something even bigger. The regatta helps place Lysekil on the map, and will help increase our appeal to businesses as well as ordinary people,"
says Stig Nilson, chairman of the town council.
For many years, Sweden has been at the top of the international women's match racing results, with Malin MILLBOURN from Stockholm's KSSS the reigning ISAF Women's World Champion and Marie BJÖRLING from Göteborg has topped the ISAF Women's Match Race Rankings for a good while. Since 1999, there has been a separate women's class in the successful Swedish Match Cup in Marstrand in the beginning of July. Now, a month later they will have their own major event.
For Anna HOLMDAHL, it is a dream come true. "It's been more hard work than I could imagine when we set out, but by now most things are running smoothly, and we're hard at work to make this regatta the top class event we all want it to be,"
she says, extending her heartfelt thanks to all those who lend their support in different ways.
Match racing ace Magnus HOLMBERG, who has not only been voted Yachtsman of the Year three times in Sweden, topped the world ranking and won the world-wide Swedish Match Tour, but has also sailed three Olympics in Soling and 470, was the man who came up with the idea for the Swedish Match Cup ten years ago. This time, too, he plays a part, sharing his wide experience as something of a mentor for Holmdahl.
"At the moment, Anna is where I was when we got the Swedish Match Cup started. It's very satisfying to be able to support her in her work with the Lysekil Women's Match,"
who will shoehorn the event in between two of the regattas where he is a competitor - the Portugal Match Cup and the Danish Open.
Chairman of the Race Committee is veteran Bengt GRÄVARE from Göteborg, but all the practical work will be done by volunteer officials from Lysekils SS Gullmar. In all, around 50 people will be busy during the regatta and in various preparations and follow-ups.
The invitations for the event have recently been sent out to a number of high-ranking skippers, and some of them have already accepted. Frenchwomen Claire LEROY, Marie FAURE and Christine BRIAND will be there, as will Danes Nina BRAESTRUP and Lotte MELDGAARD-PEDERSEN. American Elizabeth KRATZIG was the last to accept this past week. Her fellow countrywomen Betsy ALISON and Dawn RILEY, along with Australian Katie SPITHILL and Dutch Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN have also been invited but have not yet decided. Malin KÄLLSTRÖM from the GKSS in Göteborg has joined the line-up, just like fellow club member Marie BJÖRLING:
"I'm so looking forward to sailing in Lysekil, in the first really major event for us ladies,"
says Marie Björling, who has been number one on the world ranking for more than two years.
The Lysekil Women's Match will be sailed on the waters immediately west of Havets Hus, right next to the southern harbour and with a virtually unlimited number of seats afforded by the natural grandstands on the island of Släggö. As usual in match racing, we can expect close, intense and extremely eventful duels between yachts competing one-on-one. The sponsor exhibition village will be housed In Havsbadshamnen, and this is where the daily press conferences will be held. The evenings will offer concerts and
other forms of entertainment.