Following the ISAF Grade 1, Marseille International Match Racing in France, the latest rankings have been released today and Karol JABLONSKI (POL) is showing that, after 2 years at the top, he is still a force to be reckoned with.
The Top six of the open rankings show little change in terms of places, yet there are just over 2000 rankings points separating the contenders. 2000 points may seem like a big spread, but last week, Karol JABLONSKI (POL) won the ISAF Grade 1 Marseille International Match Race and with it claimed a points score of 1896. This shows the importance of him continuing to compete at the highest level events in order to keep the top spot he has held for over 16 months.
All of the top six skippers in the rankings table have now completed a full eight events, except for OneWorld skipper James SPITHILL (AUS), who has only completed six graded events in the last two years. Although James has completed less events, he remains placed in fifth, ready to pounce on those ahead of him when the time comes. As became apparent in the last rankings release, all he needs is a good couple of ISAF Grade 1 event finishes under his belt to really be fighting for the ultimate position of first on the rankings.
Whilst Spithill is nestled firmly in the top five, Peter GILMOUR is still silently waiting a little further back in 17 position. With only five events to count in his points it will only be a matter of time before he breaks the top ten, where he'll join the likes of Jesper RADICH, Ed BAIRD (USA), Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), Paulo CIAN (ITA) and a host of others in challenging Jablonski's dominance.
Philippe PRESTI (FRA) has now dropped out of the top twenty. The Frenchman, who is clearly a formidable match racer, doesn't quite have the depth to his results to challenge the top twenty in this rankings release. He lies just behind fellow Frenchman, Luc PILLOT.
After the ISAF Grade 3 Match Mania on Lake Garda in Italy, Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES (GBR), who won the event from Vasco VASCOTTO (ITA), popped into the top 40 in 40 position to join his younger brother Paul, who, with a string of Grade 3 wins under his belt over the last 24 months, is the highest ranked under-21 match racer in the world in 33 position.
It's been a quiet period for the Women's circuit in the early part of 2004. Since the last rankings, which were issued on 15 January 2004, there has been no change in the top six and the Scandinavian girls are still dominating.
Marie BJORLING still leads from her fellow Swedish competitor and current ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Malin MILLBOURN.
Behind them are the two Danish skippers, Marie BRAESTRUP and Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN in third and fourth respectively. Lis BAYLIS (USA) represents the first placed sailor from outside European waters.
Further down the rankings, there are some more interesting rises and falls in position. As well as Claire LEROY (FRA) popping from ten into seventh place, Linda RAHM has moved back into the top 20. Linda has also just received an invitation to the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, to be held in Annapolis, Maryland this year, after World Ranked number one Marie BJORLING was unable to accept her invitation.
Further back in the rankings, but only just, a new girl on the scene is sailing with an all girl crew in the Portuguese Open National Match Racing Qualifiers. All these events are ISAF Grade 3 events and directly from her results in the three events, Margarida AGUIDAR (POR) has rocketed into the top 40 in the Women's Rankings.
The next ISAF World Match Race rankings will be released on 28 April and will be used to determine the skippers who will be invited to the 2004 ISAF World Match Racing Championship in Yekaterinburg, Russia from 17-24 July 2004.