Success in Malaysia is enough
GILMOUR's win at the final ISAF Grade 1 event of the year, the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia, is enough to lift the popular Australian above Alinghi man BAIRD. It is GILMOUR's fourth ISAF Grade 1 event victory, in what has been an outstanding year from the America's Cup veteran and reigning Swedish Match Tour Champion. Russell COUTTS (NZL) came closest to upsetting GILMOUR's ascent, losing a tight final 2-1 in Malaysia, and the Kiwi's performance is enough to lift him above ISAF Match Racing World Champion James SPITHILL (AUS) into third. These four skippers, who between them count in double figures the number of America's Cup campaigns they have been involved in and the number of ISAF Match Racing World titles they have won, form a formidable looking Rankings' top four as 2005 draws to a close.
Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) holds on to fifth place after finishing eighth in Malaysia, a fantastic result for the Brit, who only last summer quit his day job as a lawyer to try his hand on the match racing circuit. The rest of the top ten remain the same as the previous release with only Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) and Paolo CIAN (ITA) trading places to sixth and seventh repectively and Sebastien COL (FRA), Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV (RUS) and Staffan LINDBERG (FIN) completing the final top ten of 2005.
Outside the top ten British National Champion Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES (GBR) consolidates his position at number 15 after winning the ISAF Grade 3 JPMorgan Asset Management Winter Challenge 2 on his home waters. Meanwhile Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean BARKER (NZL) is back in the top 20 at 18 after winning the ISAF Grade 3 New Zealand Match Racing Championship.
|Jochen SCHUEMANN's win in
Berlin sees him climb the Rankings
© Marina Könitzer
Pierre Antoine MORVAN (FRA) is one of the highest movers near the top, climbing from 47 to 32 after winning the ISAF Grade 3 Championnat de France Espoirs de Match Racing. Multiple Olympic medallist Jochen SCHUEMANN (GER) also moves up from 46 to 39 thanks to his impressive win at the ISAF Grade 2 Berlin Match Race in Germany. Chris DICKSON (NZL) is another famous name who climbs the Rankings this release, gaining 17 places to go from 58 to 41 thanks to a fifth place finish in Malaysia.
Further down the Rankings Takao NINOMIYA (JPN) gets closer to becoming the fourth Japanese sailor in the top 100 as he climbs from 134 to 123 after winning the ISAF Grade 4 Minaniise Autumn Match on his home waters. Meanwhile Manuel MARQUES gets closer to retaining his top 100 spot, and therefore becoming the only Portuguese sailor to hold one, after finish second at the ISAF Grade 3 Portuguese Match Racing Championship. New National Champion, the leader of the 470 ISAF World Sailing Rankings Alvaro MARINHO, is the highest new entrant at 210. Amongst the highest climbers this month is K-Challenge's (FRA) Thierry PEPONNET (FRA), who gains almost 300 places to go from 503 to 209 thanks to a third place at the ISAF Grade 3 SN Sete Match Race Trophy in France and a ninth at the Monsoon Cup.
Throughout 2005 the top spot in the Rankings was the exclusive property of just two men, Ed BAIRD and Peter GILMOUR. Although the Australian grabbed the final top spot of 2005, BAIRD can find satisfaction from the fact that he held the top spot for five of the nine Rankings releases. With plans for a proposed Match Racing World Tour getting the go ahead at the ISAF Annual Conference in Singapore and the 32nd America's Cup drawing ever nearer, 2006 looks set to be a fascinating year in the world of head-to-head racing. Despite the success of BAIRD and GILMOUR this year, their duopoly of the number one Ranking position looks seriously under threat, with the youthful SPITHILL and experienced COUTTS having the pair firmly in their sights.
Roll on 2006…
Claire LEROY and her team end
Claire LEROY (FRA) holds on to the top spot in the Rankings for the seventh consecutive release of the year and looks like being a tough act to match in 2006. Despite a surprise loss to Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) after winning all her round robin matches in the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Osprey Cup in the USA, the World's top woman match racer remains well clear of second place Marie BJÖRLING (SWE). ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Sally BARKOW (USA), Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN) and Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED) also remain stationary in third, fourth and fifth place respectively, with all looking well placed to challenge LEROY next year.
World Champion BARKOW in particular looks set to mount a strong challenge, as she is still only counting seven of a possible eight events in her points total. This year the American skillfully juggled match and
|Rolex Osprey Cup winner
Giulia CONTI climbs up the
© Char Doyle
Outside the top five, Malin KÄLLSTRÖM (SWE) moves up to sixth after her performance at the ISAF Grade 2 Ladies Only Match Race in Germany, whilst event winner Silke HAHLBROCK (GER) climbs from 15 to 13. Other sailors to prosper from their performances in Germany are fourth place Ulrike SCHÜMANN (GER) who moves from 70 to 44 and sixth place Maja CZARNIAWSKA (POL), who climbs massively from 168 to become Poland's highest Ranked sailor at 48.
2003 World Champion Malin MILLBOURN (SWE) moves up eleven places from 25 to 14 after finishing fourth at the Osprey Cup. 20 year old Giulia CONTI (ITA) took the honours in the USA and consequently moves up from 39 to 33, whilst runner up TUNNICLIFFE is the highest of seven new entries at number 54.
Women's Match Racing continues to go from strength to strength, with the displays of LEROY, BJÖRLING and BARKOW et al just the tip of an ever expanding iceberg. Two years ago, at the final Rankings release of 2003, 126 sailors comprised the list, last year it was 151, whilst in 2005 that figure has continued to grow to 183 Ranked sailors. In 2006, the magic 200 barrier looks a very realistic target, whilst for the leading sailors, Claire LEROY's top spot will be the principle aim. Come what may, 2006 looks set to provide another cracking year of action.
To take a look at the all of Rankings' releases of the past twelve months CLICK HERE.