The 12 teams contesting the 2009 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship title in Lysekil, Sweden have been narrowed down to six with defending champion Claire LEROY leading the way into the quarter-final stage.
The teams in the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship encountered physical sailing when the first round robin was completed today. The quarterfinals did not start today as the racing was interrupted at midday when a front came in, bringing gale-force winds to the race course.
Cascades of rain were pouring down from the main sails during the last matches of the round robin this afternoon. Strong, very shifty, hard read wind, and at times heavy rain showers, made the racing difficult for both competitors and race committee. But the world's best female match racers sailed superb races with a lot of action and top-level boat handling.
French skipper Claire LEROY
, winner of the past two World Championship titles, and the two Swedish teams of Marie BJORLING
and Anna KJELLBERG
were already qualified for the quarter-finals after yesterday's racing. The three remaining spots were determined in tough duels resulting in a very tight score.
Australian Katie SPITHILL
sailed aggressively in the physical conditions and won two of her matches today, making it to the quarter finals together with her fellow country member Nicky SOUTER
"It is a big benefit for us to have a sparring partner. We are more like a team of 12, having the same coach and pushing each other,"
said SPITHILL currently ranked at #2 on the Women's ISAF World Match Race Ranking.
of Denmark scored the final spot to the quarterfinals, with the same points as the two Australian teams: six victories and five losses.
Reigning World Champion LEROY of France topped the first round robin with 10 victories and only one match lost.
"Our objective in the first round robin was to finish top four, so this result is a big surprise and we are very happy. All six teams that have made it to the quarter finals are sailing really well and every match will be tough racing,"
said LEROY, who sailed with a brand new crewmember today as the team's bowman injured her hand when helping trim the gennaker during a difficult tack yesterday afternoon. The new bowman, Camille LECOINTRE
, who has never sailed with the team, was flown in from France late last night. The issue does not seem to have changed LEROY's success, as she won all her matches today.
For the quarter finals the six competitors will sail another round robin with the four best teams continuing to the semi finals.
On Saturday the final will be held and the 2009 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion will be crowned.
Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN
The ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2009 / Lysekil Women's Match is with its 50 000 Euro prize purse the world's biggest competition in women's match racing. Lysekil Women's Match is organized by Sailnet Lysekil AB together with Lysekil Yacht Club Gullmar. The main sponsors of this year's championship are: Preem and Stena Bulk, with Carpe Diem Beds of Sweden, Concordia Maritime, Evidens and Sebago as partners and Lysekil as Host City.
Lysekil Women's Match - www.lysekilwomensmatch.se
All the latest details on the 2009 Worlds, together with a full archive of results from previous championships is available on the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship microsite at www.sailing.org/wmatchworlds.