These are exciting times for women's match racing with the new Olympic boat, the Elliott 6m, making its debut at the ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Kiel, Germany this June and women's match racing events growing in number and participation throughout the world.
New teams are joining the ranks and established match racing teams are developing Olympic programmes.
The next stop on the ISAF Sailing World Cup
, the Delta Lloyd Regatta, in Medemblik, The Netherlands, will feature women's match racing for the first time and currently has 24 teams registered from 13 countries. They will sail the three-person Yngling for this year's event, but will switch to the Elliott 6m for 2010.
Through a joint agreement between Germany, Finland, and The Netherlands, Elliott 6ms from those three countries will be used by the 24 teams from 10 countries at the Kieler Woche event which will be holding women's match racing for the second consecutive year. A similar arrangement has been made between The Netherlands and Great Britain to have women's match racing held in the Elliott 6ms during the final event of this year's ISAF Sailing World Cup, Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in September, and the 2010 Delta Lloyd Regatta.
Over 70 Elliott 6ms will be built and distributed in 2009 to the 16 countries that requested them through the ISAF allocation plan. These countries include Israel and China where match racing programmes are being newly established as well as countries with long-standing match racing history.
Currently there are 47 ISAF Graded women's match racing events schedule to take place 2009 in 21 countries (click here to see them all
). The calendar also list a number of youth and open match racing events where women are strongly encouraged to compete. Female teams competing in open events is becoming increasingly common as organizers see the media appeal of having women compete head to head with the men and the women are honing their match racing skills on the open circuit and taking advantage of multiple training opportunities.
The growth of match racing in new areas has not been more evident as it is this year. The Women's International Match Racing Association (WIMRA) has been involved with match racing clinics already this year in Greece, El Salvador, and Mexico. These clinics have introduced match racing to sailors with strong racing backgrounds, including past Olympians in other events. These sailors are now competing on the international circuit and moving their way up the ISAF World Match Racing Rankings
. More introductory clinics are being planned this year in countries such as China, Israel, Croatia, Peru, Korea, and South Africa.
The ISAF World Match Racing Ranking list for women has seen an increase of 24% since the ISAF Council voted to include match racing as an event in the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition in Great Britain. 2009 looks to be another milestone year that will by marked by even more growth.