Ed BAIRD (USA) had topped the ISAF World Match Race Rankings since he successfully defended his title at the ISAF Match Racing World Championship in Russia last July. Since that win BAIRD has recorded victories in three ISAF Grade 1 events, but crucially only in one this year, at the ISAF Grade 1 Marseille International Match Race in France back in March. In contrast, Peter GILMOUR (AUS) has proved to be the on form sailor of the moment. In a European Spring packed with major match racing events, the Australian has come right to the fore, with two wins and a second place in the four ISAF Grade 1 events since the last Rankings release of 4 May.
|Victory in the Elba Cup sees
Russell COUTTS rise up the
© Guido Cantini/SEASEE.IT
In his first ISAF Graded event of 2005, GILMOUR finished runner up to Russell COUTTS (NZL) at the ISAF Grade 1 Toscana Elba Cup on Elba Island, Italy. Just over a week later the Australian followed this up by successfully defending his title at the ISAF Grade 1 Match Race Germany, in Langenargen. GILMOUR then rounded off a fantastic May by beating Philippe PRESTI (FRA) 3-2 in the final to win the ISAF Grade 1 ACI H1 Match Race Cup in Split, Croatia. Although BAIRD finished in the top five in all three of these events, the Australian's victories were enough to see him leapfrog the American and claim the top spot.
Behind the leading pair Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) and James SPITHILL (AUS) trade places in a move that sees the Frenchman move into third position. A former long time leader of the Rankings, COUTTS, moves ominously into the top five after his win in Elba. The Kiwi is the only sailor in the top ten to not be counting the full quota of eight events in his points total, but this looks set to change with the next Rankings release of 13 July. Between now and then, COUTTS will defend his title in the ISAF Grade 1 Swedish Match Cup from the 4-10 July. This will give the Kiwi his eighth event, and a successful defence would likely see the America's Cup veteran climb into the top three places.
Outside of the top five, Sebastian COL (FRA) moves up ten places to seven after winning the ISAF Grade 2 Antibes Cup a couple of weeks ago. Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV (RUS) is the other new entry into the top ten. He rises six places after finishing third in the ISAF Grade 1 Albaria Cento Cup in Mondello, Italy and winning the recent ISAF Grade 2 Match Race Lugano in Swizerland. The winner in Mondello, Paulo CIAN (ITA) climbs one place to eleven. Bertand PACÉ (FRA) is another sailor on the rise, climbing from 29 to 16 after top five finishes in Match Race Germany and the ACI H1 Cup, including a remarkable run in the double round robin in Split of 17-0.
|Peter GILMOUR overcame local favourite
Jesper BANK in the final of Match Race
© Guido Cantini/SEASEE.IT
Following on from the ISAF Grade 4 Campeonato Uruguayo Match Race, in Puerto Buceo, Uruguay, eight Uruguayan sailors enter the Rankings this month. Victory in the event went to Ricardo FABINI, who enters at 456 and is joined in the top 500 by runner up Pablo DEFAZIO ABELLA, at number 499.
There is not long to wait for the next Rankings release of the 13 July. The top ten ranked sailors from that release will receive invites to the ISAF Match Racing World Championship 2005 taking place in Calpe, Spain from 12-17 September. With defending World Champion, BAIRD receiving an automatic invite and being assured of a top ten Ranking place, effectively the top eleven sailors will receive an invite, together with one sailor selected by the host club, Club Náutico de Calpe and the Real Federación Española de Vela. With nine of the sailors ranked between five and 20 competing in the two ISAF Grade 1 events, the Trofeo Challenge Roberto Trombini in Marina di Ravenna, Italy and the Swedish Match Cup in Marstand, between now and the next Rankings release, the battle for a qualifying place looks set to be fierce.
|Victory in the Santa Maria Cup
was not enough for Marie
BJÖRLING to dislodge Claire
LEROY from the top spot
© Walter Cooper
A top ten place in this Rankings' release is vital as it ensures sailors an invite to the ISAF Worlds in Hamilton, Bermuda from 15-18 October. Just one other wildcard entry, chosen by the Bermuda Sailing Association, will join defending World Champion Sally BARKOW (USA) to contest the 2005 title.
The top ten Ranked sailors have remained the same since the last Rankings' release of 4 May, with one exception. Former World Champion and 2004 World Championship runner up, Betsy ALISON (USA) falls two places from ten to twelve. She is leapfrogged by Linda RAHM (SWE), thanks to the Swedish sailor's victory in the ISAF Grade 4 Swedish Match Cup Qualifier. The victory was only RAHM's second on the match racing tour and her first for four years. It was perfectly timed, lifting RAHM into the top ten for the first time in two years, coincidently, a period of time during which ALISON had not once dropped out of the top ten.
|Paula LEWIN just missed
out on a top ten spot in the
Rankings and a Worlds invite
© Walter Cooper
Within the top ten, LEROY extends her lead over BJÖRLING even though her Swedish rival got the better of her in Annapolis. BJÖRLING took a break from match racing last summer and consequently she is now only counting seven Graded events in her points total. Despite not competing in the period since the last Rankings' release Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN) remains third. Sixth place in Annapolis was good enough for Jenny AXHEDE (SWE) to move up five places to fourth, whilst winner of the ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium in Calpe, Spain back in April, Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED), falls one place to fifth. Malin KALLSTROM (SWE) won the ISAF Grade 3 Finnish Women's Championship to ensure her top ten spot, although she still falls one place from fifth to sixth.
Christine BRIAND (FRA) and Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA) trade places in seventh and eight but keep their top ten positions to provide France with three invites at this year's ISAF Worlds. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN) drops four places, but just manages to qualify for the ISAF Worlds by placing tenth. Further down the Rankings, Martina KARLEMO (FIN) climbs ten places to enter the top 20 at 18 thanks to second place in the Finnish Women's Championship.
Undine HOPSCH (GER) climbs a massive 64 places from 106 to 42 after carrying over her third place finish in the Open fleet of the ISAF Grade 5 Meckpom Cup II in Germany and finishing seventh at the ISAF Grade 2 Women's Antibes Cup in France. Silja LEHTINEN (FIN) is another high climber jumping up from 113 to 51 thanks to her fourth place at the same event. Ten sailors join the ISAF World Match Race Rankings this month.
Sweden will be the most heavily represented country at the World Championship in Bermuda with four sailors. With Denmark's BRAESTRUP and MELDGAARD PEDERSEN joining them, the Championship in Bermuda will have a very Scandinavian feel. With ALISON missing out, defending Champion, BARKOW is the only non European competitor, although that will change when the Bermuda Sailing Association selects their invited sailor.
Invites for the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2005 will be sent to the following sailors:
Sailors have until 10 July to confirm their attendance. If any invites are not accepted then they will be passed on to the next highest sailor in the Rankings.