|BAIRD remains at the top of
© Guido Cantini/ Sea@SEE
After finishing second in the major match racing event of this Rankings' period, the Congressional Cup, Russell COUTTS (NZL) has also gained two places and is in seventh. Before America's Cup sailing reduced his time on the world tour several years ago, COUTTS dominated as the world's number one ranked match racer. With the Kiwi out of the America's Cup in 2007, he is sure to be looking keenly to the challenge for the number one spot. The glut of ISAF Grade 1 match racing events in the next ranking period will provide COUTTS with plenty of opportunities to mount a challenge on BAIRD's number one spot, starting with the Toscana Elba Cup, where he today begins the defence of his title.
Making way for PRESTI and COUTTS is Britain's Ian WILLIAMS, who drops down two to eighth and Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), who just holds on to his top ten spot after falling three places from seventh. New into the top ten is Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN) thanks to the rolling two-year calculation of the Rankings.
It is a good month in the rankings for several Kiwi skippers after their success in the Congressional Cup. Third place at the Cup in Long Beach sees Chris DICKSON (NZL) rise from 119 to 67 whilst winner, Dean BARKER (NZL) jumps 52 places up to 39.
Continuing his rise up the rankings is American, Mason WOODWORTH, who now sits at 28 after his recent victory in the Mermaid Match Racing Championship. Just a few months ago WOODWORTH was coming perilously close to dropping out of the top 100 before a string of good results saw him shoot back up the rankings.
The top five of the Open Rankings has not altered at all this year, but this looks almost certain to change in the coming Ranking period. BAIRD has occupied the number one spot for nine months now although the coming two months could see the biggest challenge to the American yet. Four ISAF Grade 1 Events between now and the next Rankings' release date of 23 June means BAIRD will have to be on top form as the many of the America's Cup star helmsmen come to Europe for a Spring of intense match racing. Already the Kiwi sailors have shown what they can do in the Congressional Cup, where BAIRD was absent due to commitments to his America's Cup team, Alinghi. Whilst the American will have a chance to continue his dominance, he is sure to face plenty of very tough competition.
|New Rankings' number one,
© Walter Cooper
Claire LEROY (FRA) has finally leapfrogged Marie BJÖRLING (SWE) at the top of the Rankings thanks to her three to one victory in the semi finals of the Criterium. LEROY's achievement looks all the more impressive when you take a look at BJÖRLING's reign. Except for a four month break between June and September last year, BJÖRLING had occupied the number one spot since February 2003. She is sure to want to reclaim her former number spot, although LEROY will now be brimming with confidence after the recent victory over her rival.
Finishing last weekend, the International Women Match Race Criterium has had a dramatic affect on the top of the Rankings with all four semi finalists now occupying the top four positions in the rankings. The tightest of finals in the Criterium saw Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED) defeat LEROY three to two and consequently she climbs four places to fourth. One ahead of her in third is Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN), who combined her third in the Criterium with a victory in the Ladies Cup.
Last year's winner of the Criterium, Jenny AXEHEDE (SWE) takes a tumble down the Rankings from fourth to ninth whilst runner up last year, Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN), falls from third to sixth. As a result Malin KÄLLSTRÖM (SWE) moves up one place to fifth. Oddly enough with so much movement in the Rankings, the sailors who make up the top ten remain the same as the last Rankings' release, but only two, Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA) at seven and Betsy ALISON (USA) at ten, maintain the same position.
By holding on to her tenth spot, ALISON remains the only non-European in the top ten. The next ten positions tell a different story though, with another four Americans joined by Bermuda's Paula LEWIN and Australia's Katie SPITHILL alongside the European contingent.
An excellent performance in the Criterium by Portugal's Fernanda OLIVEIRA saw her narrowly miss out on a semi final spot to BRAESTRUP. Still her fifth place was enough to see her rocket up the rankings into the top 50 at 42. A massive climb of almost 80 places from her 120 spot in the last rankings. Almost making a splash, this time a fraction outside the top 50, at 51, is France's Sigrid LONGEAU who rose from 100 last time around after finishing third in the Spring Cup in Quay.
The next ISAF World Match Race Rankings release will be 23 June 2005.