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24 May 2006, 09:00 am
The Skippers
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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 skippers who will be contesting the 2006 Championship. In the first of two reports, today we concentrate on the top six skippers in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, including defending champion Sally BARKOW (USA).
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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, with 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. Given her current form and dominant knock out stage performance in the last year's Worlds, the American starts as favourite in Denmark.

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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 better of her Dutch rival on her home waters, as she 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 top in 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 appeared at the Women's Match Worlds. First recording a tenth place in Italy in 1999 and in 2001 coming in eighth, 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.

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

At last year's Worlds in Bermuda Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA) started well, winning her opening flight against Linda RAHM (SWE), but from there it was all downhill. She lost all of her ten following matches to finish the Championship bottom of the leaderboard in twelfth place. It was a disappointing result for PHILIPPE, who, with a World Ranking of 8, will expect a better performance in Denmark.

After close to two years without making a semi-final, PHILIPPE finally broke her run at the Open ISAF Grade 4 Finale Bassin Atlantique Zone Nord Quiberonials on her home waters, and followed this performance up with an impressive fourth place at the ISAF Grade 2 Harken Women's Match Racing Championship in Australia, by far her best result since she won the European Championship in 2004. In Denmark, PHILIPPE will be hoping to build on this recent bout of confidence boosting success, and look to find the form that saw her crowned European Champion two years ago.

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) arrives at her sixth consecutive World Championship hoping that home waters will provide the launch pad that will see her go one better than the silver medal she won in Sweden three years ago. Oddly enough, despite having competed on the open and then the women's match racing circuit for well over ten years, MELDGAARD PEDERSEN has never won an ISAF Graded event on her home waters, a record she will certainly be aiming to put right in Copenhagen.

The last twelve months have seen a series of solid, but unspectacular performances from the Dane. After a solid start at the Worlds in Bermuda last year, she was unlucky to miss out on final slot for the second stage round robin. She came off worse in a three-way tie for sixth, her third flight loss to Nicky SOUTER (AUS) proving the deciding factor. Since Bermuda her only two regattas have seen more midfield results, with sixth at the ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium her most recent performance.

MELDGAARD PEDERSEN knows how to succeed at the Worlds, and in past events has shown she thrives on the pressure situations. She has both bronze and silver medals from previous events, and will be looking to complete the set in Copenhagen.

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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

World number ten Linda RAHM (SWE) is still waiting to show the World her best form on the biggest stage, after she again struggled to shine at the Worlds in Bermuda last year. Appearing now at her fourth Worlds in a row, RAHM has yet to finish in the top ten.

She went to Bermuda in fine form last year, having reached the final of the ISAF Grade 3 Swedish Match Racing Championship and winning the ISAF Grade 4 Swedish Qualifier for the Swedish Match Cup. Since Bermuda, her only ISAF Graded performance has been at the Open ISAF Grade 3 Ice Breaker Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she took fourth place overall.

RAHM knows the waters of Skovshoved well, having made a number of appearances at the Ladies Cup, and taking second place at the event in 2003. This week she will be looking to make most of her knowledge of the venue, as she looks to show her best on the World stage.

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

Along with Sally BARKOW (USA), Betsy ALISON (USA) makes up a formidable American challenge at this year's Worlds. The five-time US SAILING Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year won the World title back in 1998, and has won medals on four other occasions. In 2004 she finished runner up behind BARKOW when the wind deserted the Championship during the semi-final stages, whilst last year she beat World number one Claire LEROY (FRA) in the semis before BARKOW whitewashed her 3-0 in the final.

Like BARKOW, ALISON also has a wealth of experience in the Women's Keelboat Yngling event, twice being crowned World Champion in the class. She also currently acts as coach to the US Disabled Sailing Team. However, surprisingly for such an experienced campaigner, who has been competing on the match racing circuit for over 15 years, this year's Worlds will be the first ISAF Graded event she has entered in Denmark.

Whether the waters of Skovshoved hold any surprises for ALISON could well prove decisive in her progress through the event. In Bermuda last year she never looked back from a flying start on day one, and will be hoping to blitz the competition in similar fashion this week.

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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

Silke HAHLBROCK (GER) starts as the unknown package in Denmark. Amongst the twelve skippers, the 22 year old German is the only one making her debut at the Worlds, and will also be making her debut performance at an ISAF Graded event in Denmark. HAHLBROCK is the first German to make the World Championship since Nadine STEGENWALNER in 2000, and takes her place in Denmark after the withdrawal of Christine BRIAND (FRA).

For HAHLBROCK a place at the Worlds is a further landmark in a terrific twelve months, which have seen her climb from 42 to 15 in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings and record victories at the ISAF Grade 2 Ladies Only Match Race and ISAF Grade 3 International German Championship.

Her most recent performance came in Spain at the ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium. There she finished seventh overall in a field of eleven, but below all of the other five skippers who will also be competing at the Worlds. HAHLBROCK will go to the Worlds as somewhat of an unknown quantity - not unlike a certain Sally BARKOW (USA), when she lined up in Annapolis two years ago.

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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

When Dorte JENSEN (DEN) won the Hempel Wild Card Qualifier and took the final spot in the line up, this year's World Championship suddenly took on a fascinating, extra dimension.

JENSEN dominated the early years of the World Championship, taking medals in all four opening events, including gold in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Since winning the third of her gold medals, JENSEN has only competed once on the women's circuit, way back in 2002. Instead she concentrated on an Athens Yngling campaign with Christina BORREGAARD-OTZEN and Helle JESPERSEN, which ended in an Olympic bronze medal. Since then JENSEN has been back on the match racing circuit, but competing in open events, rising up to 51 in the Open ISAF World Match Race Rankings, a higher position than United Internet Team Germany skipper Jesper BANK (DEN), who has completed an equal number of events.

It goes without saying that JENSEN knows the waters of Skovshoved well. In fact back at the start of April she took second place there at the ISAF Grade 4 RMC 2. Whether she can pick up where she left off in the women's scene will be one of the most fascinating questions of the Championship. For newer stars like Sally BARKOW (USA) and Claire LEROY (FRA), the presence of JENSEN gives them the chance to take on one of the legends of the event. Meanwhile for JENSEN, the Worlds has brought nothing but success for her so far.

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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