It was a final in which wind shifts and penalties played their part.
The first race was close, very close, and the two boats finished overlapped after BARKOW had attacked throughout. AXHEDE won the start, shutting the gate at the committee boat end of the line so that BARKOW was left with no option but to follow the Swedish skipper across.
A wind shift put AXHEDE back in front after BARKOW had briefly taken the advantage and ten seconds separated them at the first mark. BARKOW reduced this by half before the final run, but could not overcome her opponent in this race.
It was different in the next, a race in which BARKOW won the start and progressively increased her lead to finish a minute ahead to level the score.
A penalty against BARKOW, for failing to keep clear of the leeward boat, in the last seconds of the pre-start had an effect on the third race, but not entirely. The race was close with BARKOW 12 seconds ahead at the first mark, holding that lead on the run, but when AXHEDE went left on the second windward leg and BARKOW went right, the American's game became unhinged with a left hand shift that brought AXHEDE into the game.
BARKOW dipped when they crossed and there was a double tack, during which BARKOW received a second penalty and took her turns instantly and dropped behind. She lost more ground when she took her other penalty turns and Axhede won easily.
AXHEDE led at the start of the fourth race and was never headed despite ferocious attacks by BARKOW. AXHEDE's all-Swedish crew of Nina BAKE, Elisabeth NILSSON, Johanna SARNA, Annita CARLNNGER and Erin ADERMAN, was faultless in all four races.
Earlier, AXHEDE had needed only three races to beat Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN of the Netherlands in the semi-final. BARKOW had a considerably tougher time defeating Claire LEROY of France by 3-2. In the petit-final for third place, LEROY beat ZUIDERBAAN 2-0.
*Claire LEROY wins fourth place into the semi-final round on countback.
The first to three wins semi-finals and final will be held tomorrow.
About the Tróia Portugal Womens' Cup
Organization: Sun Sailing Team and Clube Naval de Sesimbra. Main Sonsors: Turismo de Portugal.i.p.; Troia Resort. Sponsors: Grupo Sá Machado. Partners: Amorim Turismo, RTPN, Rádio Capital, Hertz. Oficial Partners: Marinha, Federação Portuguesa de Vela, ISAF - Federação Internacional de Vela, Crescer Ser, Administração dos Portos de Setúbal e Sesimbra, Porto de Sesimbra, Porto de Setúbal, Câmara Municipal de Grandola e Região Turismo Costa Azul. Suppliers: Chivas, Atlantis, Aquabona, Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Capeduc, Nespresso, L'Occitane, Novis, Cateri, X. Yachts, Elvstrom Sobstad, Faz Acontecer, Nimbus Boats, PortalAventuras.com