The first race was an enthralling one in which an early mistake by BARKOW and her crew almost wrecked her chances. They were well upwind of the starting line when the sequence began and as they endeavoured to return to the pin end of the line, Jenny AXHEDE of Sweden went after them on starboard tack, holding them away from the line until the time penalty for starting was applied.
Another penalty came for being ahead of the line when the five-minute signal was made and BARKOW appeared doomed as one penalty had to be taken immediately after starting. As AXHEDE started ahead, she should have had this match under control, but when BARKOW took her first penalty, the Swedish woman failed to cover.
BARKOW was behind at the first mark but took advantage of a shift to gain ground on the right, gybe and obtain an inside overlap on AXHEDE as they both headed out to the left side of the course. Higher and higher they went until they were pointing upwind. It was the ideally contrived opportunity for BARKOW to offload her second penalty, and she did to lead back to the leeward gate.
It was there that BARKOW went to the right hand buoy, tacking immediately to cover AXHEDE who opted for the left hand buoy of the gate. BARKOW drew away to be 18 seconds clear at the second windward mark and was not troubled on the run home.
Barkow's next two matches, against Rita GONÇALVES of Portugal and Sweden's Lotta THORELIUS, were bread-and-butter affairs for the US skipper and her multi-national crew of Annie LUSH (GBR), Sharon FERRIS (NZL), and three Americans, Elizabeth KRATZIG, Chafee EMORY and Lindsay BANTEL.
'We've go to nail her,' said Annie LUSH before the last race, but total control however was not to be. The final match of the day was between BARKOW and Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN and the Dutch skipper gained the advantage in the last seconds of the pre-start and denied BARKOW any chance of passing.
*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