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24 May 2006, 09:00 am
The Skippers - 2
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Dexia Private Banking ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2006
Copehagen, Denmark

As the countdown continues to the start of racing at the Dexia Private Banking ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark tomorrow, www.sailing.org takes a look at the twelve skippers who will be contesting the 2006 Championship. In the first of two reports, we look at six of the skippers today including defending champion Sally BARKOW.
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The Championship will be contested in DS 37s off Skovshoved Harbour, about ten miles north of Copenhagen. Each skipper will be joined by a crew of five. The Organizing Authority for the Championship is the Royal Danish Yacht Club in association with the Royal Match Race Centre and ISAF.

Average wind speeds for the month of May off the coast of Skovshoved are around nine knots. The prevailing wind directions are: west (39%), northwest (13%) and southwest (12%). Racing will take place from 25-28 May. A full round robin will be followed by semi-finals and a final.

Amongst the line up are the winners of all but one of the seven previous World Championships, whilst the hosts Denmark are represented by three different crews. Sweden also has three teams challenging for the title, whilst the USA and France both have two. The Netherlands and Germany are the other nations who will be represented in Copenhagen.

Sally BARKOW (USA)

© Bob GRIESER/PPL, Hamilton
ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 3
Best ISAF Worlds Result: Winner 2005, 2004
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: Winner
Best Results of last 12 months: Winner - ISAF Grade 1 St. Quay Women Match Racing; ISAF Grade 3 U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship; 2nd - ISAF Grade 1 Women Trentino Match Race
Crew: Debbie Capozzi, Annie LUSH, Lee ICYDA, Chafee EMORY, Lindsey BARTEL

2005 was an outstanding year for Sally BARKOW (USA) and so far 2006 is shaping up to be equally successful for the hugely talented 25 year old from Wisconsin. BARKOW ended 2005 as World Champion in both women's match racing and the Yngling, as well as being named US SAILING's Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. She is unique in occupying a top five place in both the ISAF World Sailing Rankings and ISAF World Match Race Rankings, and since the start of 2005 has won eight of the twelve ISAF Graded events she has entered in either the Yngling or match racing.

This year BARKOW's concentration has been on the Yngling up to now, with wins at Miami, Palma and Hyères proving hers is without doubt currently the team to beat. However, BARKOW has not competed in a match racing event since the ISAF Grade 3 U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship, back in November of last year. Her rivals will be hoping to exploit this lack of match practice, but it is a situation BARKOW has been addressing by training in advance of the Championship with three-time World Champion Dorte JENSEN (DEN).

Ironically it will be JENSEN's record BARKOW is trying to emulate in Copenhagen, as she goes for her third successive World Championship victory.

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© Charles ANDERSON/PPL

Claire LEROY (FRA)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 1
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 3rd 2005, 2004
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: 3rd
Best Results of last 12 months: Winner - ISAF Grade 1 Women Trentino Match Race, ISAF Grade 2 Women's Antibes Cup, ISAF Grade 3 JPMorgan Fleming Women's Challenge; 2nd - ISAF Grade 1 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup
Crew: Dorothée MARTIN D'AURAY, Ophélie THÉRON, Elodie BERTRAND, Morgane GAUTHIER, Ingrid CERRATO

Claire LEROY (FRA) has sat in the top spot of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings for over a year now, and will undoubtedly start as one of the favourites in Denmark. This year she has already recorded a victory at the ISAF Grade 3 JPMorgan Fleming Women's Challenge, although, as World number one, a third place at the recent ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium was a somewhat disappointing result.

During 2005, LEROY was a dominant force on the women's match racing scene, picking up five event wins and a nomination for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards. Amongst all this success, she won a second consecutive bronze medal at the Worlds, losing out to Betsy ALISON (USA) after holding a 1-0 lead in the semi-finals.

At the Criterium in Spain last month she again led 1-0 in the semi-final before losing out to eventual winner Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED). In Denmark, LEROY will be aiming to capitalize better on any gains she makes as she aims to unite the World number one spot with the World Championship title.

Marie BJÖRLING (SWE)

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© Charles ANDERSON/PPL
ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 2
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 2nd 2002, 2001, 2000
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: 5th
Best Results of last 12 months: Winner - ISAF Grade 1 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup, ISAF Grade 3 Swedish Match Raciing Championship, ISAF Grade 3 Ladies Nordic Match Race Championship; 2nd - ISAF Grade 1 Swedish Match Cup
Crew: Anna HOLMDAHL, Jenny AXHEDE, Elisabeth NILSSON, Anna-Karin ÖJERSKOG, Annika CARLUNGER

For a long time Marie BJÖRLING (SWE) was the name in women's match racing, but in recent times her light has faded somewhat as sailors like Claire LEROY (FRA) and Sally BARKOW (USA) have flourished. Since LEROY dislodged her from the World number one spot last year, BJÖRLING has been fairly quiet on the match racing scene, indeed she has not competed in any ISAF Graded events at all since the Worlds in Bermuda last year.

There she was again frustrated, losing a four-way tie for the semi-final slots to finish in fifth. After three runners up performances in 2000, 2001 and 2002, BJÖRLING has become all too familiar with near misses at the Worlds. Come Denmark and the start of racing, she will be aiming to find her top form and finally see her name written on the World Championship Trophy.

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© Bob GRIESER/PPL

Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 4
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 4th 2005
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: 4th
Best Results of last 12 months: 2nd - ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium, ISAF Grade 2 ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final for Europe 1, ISAF Grade 2 Women's Antibes Cup
Crew: Anne-Sophie LOHSE, Sofie MUNK, Line MØRKEBJERG, Catia LÖWEN, Vivi MØLLER

After a great fourth place at the Worlds in Bermuda last year, Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN) will begin the battle in Copenhagen as one of the great home hopes for Worlds' glory. Along other Danish entrants Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN and Dorte JENSEN, BRAESTRUP will have plenty of support on Skovshoved Harbour, and will be looking to maximize the advantages of sailing on her home waters after her great result at the Worlds in Bermuda last year.

Since then BRAESTRUP has continued her fine form, securing solid second places at the ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium in Spain and the ISAF Grade 2 ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final for Europe 1 in Portugal. On both occasions she lost out to Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED), but BRAESTRUP will be hoping to get the batter of her Dutch rival on her home waters, as he goes for her first ISAF World Championship medal.

Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 5
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 2nd 1998
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: 9th
Best Results of last 12 months: Winner - ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium, ISAF Grade 2 ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final for Europe 1
Crew: Anita VAN OEVEREN, Trijntje ZUIDERBAAN, Do Janne VERMEULEN, Renske VERBEEK, Anne-Marie KOSTECKI

Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED) goes to Copenhagen as the form sailor on women's match racing circuit, with the 33 year old having won the title at the only ISAF Grade 1 event of the year so far, the International Women Match Race Criterium in Calpe, Spain. There she defeat World number one Claire LEROY (FRA) in the semi-final before overcoming Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN) to retain the title she won in Spain last year. BRAESTRUP was again at the losing end of another encounter with ZUIDERBAAN less than two weeks' later on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Victory at the ISAF Grade 2 ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final for Europe 1 means ZUIDERBAAN is the first of the European women skippers to win a place at the Grand Final of the ISAF Nations Cup in Ireland this September.

Last year ZUIDERBAAN went to the Worlds in Bermuda as one of the favourites, having won the ISAF Grade 1 Cicada Bermuda Women's International Match Racing Championship on Hamilton Harbour the previous year. However it was to prove a disappointing Worlds for ZUIDERBAAN, who has yet to repeat her bronze medal winning success of 1998. A poor start, saw ZUIDERBAAN languishing on 2-4 after the opening day and although she rallied somewhat on day two, losses in her two final matches saw any chance of making the second stage vanish.

Come Copenhagen and ZUIDERBAAN will be aiming to erase the memory of Bermuda, and instead focus on the positives of the year so far. If she can maintain her current form, the Dutch star will certainly be one to watch this week.

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© Nina BARNE

Malin KÄLLSTRÖM (SWE)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 7
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 8th 2001
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: Did not compete
Best Results of last 12 months: Winner - ISAF Grade 1 Ladies Match Cup, ISAF Grade 3 Women's Finnish Match Racing Championship
Crew: Karin HAGSTRÖM, Madde MAGNUSSON, Marie ÖBERG, Lotta HARRYSON, Nina BARNE

After missing out on the Worlds last year, KÄLLSTRÖM finished 2005 strongly, winning the inaugural ISAF Grade 1 Ladies Match Cup in Germany by defeating local star Kristin WAGNER (GER) in the final. The 37 year old College teacher then went on to score respectable finishes at events in Hamburg and Stockholm, but has yet to recapture the form that saw her finish consecutive events in Finland and then Germany.

A former 470 sailor, KÄLLSTRÖM's match racing career began on a high when she crewed for Helena STRÄNG (SWE), as Sweden won the ISAF Nations Cup in 1993. Since then KÄLLSTRÖM has twice appear at the Women's Match Worlds. First recording a tenth place in Italy in 1999 and two years' later coming in eight, again in Italy Five years later and KÄLLSTRÖM will be aiming to make it third time lucky in Denmark, and could well prove to be one of the surprise packages on the water this week.

Tomorrow look out for the second half of the skippers' preview, including a look at three-time winner Dorte JENSEN (DEN), as well as 1998 Champion and last year's runner up Betsy ALISON (USA).

Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 8
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 12th 2005, 2004
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: 12th
Best Results of last 12 months: 4th - ISAF Grade 2 Harken Women's Match Racing Championship; 5th - ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium, ISAF Grade 1 Women Trentino Match Race, ISAF Grade 2 Women's Antibes Cup
Crew: Gwenn JOULIÉ, Céline DEVAUX, Vanessa GODET, Elodie LESAFFRE, Claire GLAYMANN

2005 has been a nearly year for Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA), with the Frenchwomen frequently missing out on a semi place in the events she has entered. However her consistently high finishes have seen her ISAF World Match Race Ranking place her eighth in the World and PHILIPPE will be aiming to fulfill that ranking by bettering her previous best Worlds' finish of twelfth, which she achieved last year.

PHILIPPE enters the event as the reigning European Champion, after her victory in St. Quay Portrieux, France last year (and the cancellation of the 2005 event). This year her return to St. Quay was typical of her season so far. After the early stages of the round robin she was lying tied in third, with only Claire LEROY (FRA) and Sally BARKOW (USA) ahead of her. However by the conclusion of racing she had dropped to a disappointing seventh. In Bermuda, PHILIPPE will be aiming to put right the problems she has had so far this year and take the next step forward in her quest for the World title.

Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN)

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© Anders AVERDAL
ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 9
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 2nd 2003
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: 7th
Best Results of last 12 months: 3rd - ISAF Grade 1 Women Trentino Match Race; 5th - ISAF Grade 1 Swedish Match Cup, ISAF Grade 3 Ladies Nordic Match Race Championship
Crew: Inge EBBENSGAARD, Mia NIELSEN, Nina GRUNOW, Christina REFN, Anne MØRUP-PETERSEN

Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN) is a familiar name at the ISAF Worlds' having appeared at every Championship since 2001 and twice reaching the podium. Two years ago she came within a whisker of Worlds' glory, only losing out to Malin MILLBOURN (SWE) in the final flight of the Championship. She quickly followed that second place by taking the 2003 European crown, but since then has been without a win on the women's circuit.

She will be looking to put that right in Hamilton, and seems to be coming into form at the right moment, finishing third at the recent ISAF Grade 1 Women Trentino Match Race with only defending World Champion Sally BARKOW (USA) (who beat her 2-1 in the semi final) and World number one Claire LEROY (FRA) finishing above her.

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© Dan LJUNGSVIK

Linda RAHM (SWE)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 10
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 11th 2005, 2003
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: 11th
Best Results of last 12 months: Winner - ISAF Grade 4 Swedish Qualifier Swedish Match Cup; 2nd - ISAF Grade 3 Swedish National Match Racing Championship
Crew: Helena BARNE, Victoria ENGSTRÖM, Emelie LIDÉN, Anna NORDLANDER, Annika OLSSON

Former Europe sailor Linda RAHM (SWE) goes to Bermuda looking to make her mark on the Worlds and improve on her previous best performance of eleventh. Last year in Annapolis she finished a disappointing 14th place, but 2005 has seen her back on form, climbing back into the top ten in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.

Recently she reached the final of the ISAF Grade 3 Swedish National Match Racing Championship, only to come undone against Marie BJÖRLING (SWE). However earlier in the year RAHM got the better of her country mate, and went on to defeat 2003 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Malin MILLBOURN (SWE) to claim the honours at the ISAF Grade 4 Swedish Qualifier Swedish Match Cup. If she can show the same form in Bermuda, a Worlds' best performance look almost certain.

Betsy ALISON (USA)

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© Charles ANDERSON/PPL
ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 11
Best ISAF Worlds Result: Winner 1998
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: 2nd
Best Results of last 12 months: 3rd - ISAF Grade 3 U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship; 4th - ISAF Grade 1 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup
Crew: Nancy HABERLAND, Sandy HAYES, Sandi SVOBODA, Sarah BUCKLEY, Marie KLOK

Aside from the defending champion Sally BARKOW (USA), Betsy ALISON (USA) is the only one of the twelve skippers in the field to have previously won the World title. That victory came at the inaugural event in 1998, which took place as part of the ISAF World Sailing Championship in Dubai, UAE. In that Championship, ALISON defeated Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED) in the final and since then she has been a major force at the Championship, scoring second and third place finishes in the following two years. In both 2001 and 2002 she missed the Worlds before returning in 2003 to end third, after going down in the semi final to fellow 2005 finalist Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN).

Last year ALISON went one better, finishing second overall after racing was abandoned at the semi final stage when she was all square at 2-2 with Paula LEWIN (BER). Since finishing sixth in the ISAF Grade 1 Cicada Bermuda Women's International Match Racing Championship last year, ALISON has only made a couple of appearances in 2005, both on American waters. She finished third in an open fleet at the ISAF Grade 3 Chicago Match Racing Regatta before taking fourth place at the ISAF Grade 1 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup, where once again racing was cut short by light winds with ALISON lying tied at 2-2 in the semi final, this time with Marie BJÖRLING (SWE).

Look out for a profile of the remaining six skippers, including number one in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings Claire LEROY (FRA) and home favourite Paula LEWIN (BER), who complete the field for the Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship on Friday.

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© Petra HAHLBROCK

Silke HAHLBROCK (GER)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 15
Best ISAF Worlds Result: Debut Worlds
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: Did not compete
Best Results of last 12 months: Winner - ISAF Grade 2 Ladies Only Match Race, ISAF Grade 3 International German Championship
Crew: Charlotte JAEKEL, Marion ROMMEL, Kerstin SCHULT, Anke SCHEUERMANN, Cathrin WEGNER

Home favourite Paula LEWIN (BER) was extremely unlucky to miss out on a medal at last year's Worlds in Annapolis, USA, losing out to a complex series of calculations to finish fourth after her semi final with Betsy ALISON (USA) had to be stopped at 2-2 due to a lack of wind. Like Linda RAHM (SWE), LEWIN is a former Europe sailor and she represented her nation at the 1996 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Returning to Annapolis this year, LEWIN's challenge was again cut short by light winds at the semi final stage. This time she was tied 2-2 with Claire LEROY (FRA) and the calculations were slightly more favourably, giving her the bronze medal.

LEWIN will be right at home on the waters off Hamilton Habour and is sure to be able to count on plenty of support from the local sailing fans. She has successfully competed twice recently in Bermuda, coming third and top women at two open events, the ISAF Grade 5 Anna Roed Bell IOD Match Race and the ISAF Grade 3 Bermuda National Match Racing Championship. LEWIN will be looking to repeat this local success come Tuesday.

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© Daniel FORSTER

Dorte JENSEN (DEN)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: Not Ranked
Best ISAF Worlds Result: Winner 2001, 2000, 1999
2005 ISAF Worlds Result: Did not compete
Best Results of last 12 months: Winner - ISAF Grade 4 Hempel Wild Card Qualifier for World Championship
Crew: Gitte BJERREGÅRD, Lea OLSEN, Tine KJÆRGAARD, Helle JESPERSEN, Nathalia NYELAND

Nicky SOUTER (AUS) was a late entry into the Worlds after the withdrawal of Christine BRIAND (FRA). However she enters the Championship in the middle of a purple patch, having last month clinched a repeat win at the ISAF Grade 3 Line 7 Australian Women's Match Racing Championship by defeating the sister of ISAF Match Racing World Champion James SPITHILL (AUS), Katie SPITHILL (AUS) 3-1 in the final. SOUTER and SPITHILL both come from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and last year when SPITHILL qualified for the ISAF Worlds, SOUTER joined her crew who were to eventually finish sixth. This year SOUTER qualified and returned the favour with SPITHILL on tactics for the Australian team.

Bermuda will be the first time SOUTER has competed as a helm in an ISAF Graded event outside of Oceania and she could well prove to be the surprise package of the Championship. Nobody from outside Europe or North America has ever claimed a medal at an ISAF Women's Match Racing Worlds, a record that stands in stark contrast to the success the Australians and New Zealanders have had in the open event. SOUTER will be aiming for success in Bermuda and with it a place in the record books.

Racing begins in Bermuda at 0900 hours local time tomorrow, with the twelve skippers taking part in the opening round robin. The top six skippers will then move on to a second round robin, with the top four from that progressing to the semi finals. In a straight knockout the first skipper to score two points will then progress to the final, where the Champion will be the first to score three points.

For a complete list of all the news about the Dexia Private Banking ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship CLICK HERE.

ISAF. Image, The prized ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship medals:© ISAF
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