The 16 events added to this ranking include five ISAF Grade 3 events, eight Grade 4 and three Grade 5 and there is therefore little surprise that there is no change at the top of the ranking list. Two time World Champion and 2004 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award nominee Ed BAIRD (USA) keeps hold of the top spot with Peter GILMOUR (AUS) remaining in the number two position ahead of his countryman James SPITHILL in third. The top five is completed by Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) and Karol JABLONSKI (POL).
There have been a number of well known names making their debut to the rankings today, notably Great Britains Olympic gold medallist Iain PERCY and Frances' representative in the 470 at the Olympic Games in Athens, Gildas PHILIPPE. Percy competed in the Grade 3 JP Morgan Fleming Winter Challenge in December 2004 where he finished fifth and subsequently enters the rankings at 486. Gildas PHILIPPE took to the water in Brest for the Grade 4 Selective de Ligue and also finished fifth to enter the rankings at 629. Another British Olympic gold medallist is also making his way over to the match racing scene and having joined Team New Zealand for the 2007 America's Cup, Ben AINSLIE has begun to make his way up the rankings.
The ISAF Grade 3, New Zealand Match Racing Championship is the only event of this ranking release to feature some of the big names of match racing. The event was won by Dean BARKER (NZL) with his new Team New Zealand team mate Ben AINSLIE taking second place. This result has propelled Barker into the top 100 at 97 and Ainslie into the top 200 at 199, a 176 place leap from where he entered the rankings in November 2004. Other big names at this event include Bertrnad PACE (FRA) and Chris DICKSON (NZL).
There has been no change to those skippers in the top twenty of the open rankings but there are some who have joined the top fifty. Dimitri DERUELLE (FRA) has moved up to number 40 from 61 following his first place at the Grade 4 Championnat de Ligue Mediterranee in Marseille in December. Similarly, Tino ELLEGAST's (GER) first place finish at the Grade 3 Soling South American Match Racing Championship was enough to push him ten places up the rankings to number 46.
The first ISAF Grade 1 event for 2005 is the Marseille International Match Race from 16-21 April.
There have been no graded women's match racing events since the last ranking release and there is subsequently no change to the top five. Marie BJÖRLING (SWE) remains in the top spot where she has resided since 27 October after returning in top form from a rankings holiday. Claire LEROY (FRA) stays in second place and will be hoping to continue her winning ways in 2005 and perhaps make up the 1311 points with which she trails Björling. Starting the year in third place is Lotte MELDGAARD-PEDERSEN (DEN) who had a solid 2004, never straying out of the top five and the only skipper aside from Björling to take the top spot. Meldgaard-Pederseen is also one of several top level sailors who joined ISAF as committee members in November 2004 and she now sits on the Match Racing Committee.The top five is completed by Jenny AXHEDE (SWE) and Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN)
There may not have been any Women's events to be included in these rankings, but skippers who compete in Open events with an entirely female crew are able to count their points toward their women's ranking. Annie Claire LE BERRE (FRA) has done just that. Competing in the ISAF Grade 4 Selective de Ligue in Brest, France on 8-9 January, Le Berre was victorious and collected valuable ranking points to boost her 13 places up the rankings to number 38. This is the highest she has ever been on the Match Race rankings after switching from competing in the 470 early last year.
Despite there being little change at the top of the rankings, they are still a crucial release as it is from this list that the invitations to the 2005 ISAF Women's Match Race Rankings will be made. 16 skippers will compete in the event which will take place on Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda from 12 to 18 June 2005. Defending champion Sally BARKOW (USA) will recieve an automatic invitation and the organising committee may invite one Bermudan sailor as the host nation representative, the fourteen other skippers will be invited, starting with the skipper ranked at number one on the ISAF World Rankings. Skippers who are interested in competing should contact the organisers at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club at email@example.com
The top of the Women's ranking is dominated by European skippers, with Sweden, France and Denmark sharing the top seven places. The USA is represented by five women, including the current World Champion, Sally Barkow at number 16. The Netherlands, Bermuda, Great Britain and Portugal each have one skipper in the top twenty
The first graded women's match racing event on the calendar is the ISAF Grade 3 JP Morgan Fleming Women's Challenge which will take place at Queen Mary Sailing Club, GBR on 26 and 27 February. The first Grade 1 event of 2005 is scheduled for 26-30 April in Calpe, Spain and is the International Match Racing Women's Criterium.
ISAF World Match Race Ranking Calculation
At its November meeting the ISAF Match Racing committee accepted proposals to change the Calculation for the Match Racing Rankings. After discussion with Sailors, Race Officials and Administrators a series of test runs are planned based around the proposed changes. The Rankings Points Calculation is done as follows:
Points Allocation* x Event Grade Multiplier** x Year Weighting.
*including any Skipper Bonus Points
** including any Event Bonus Factor
Under the new proposals the points allocation will remain the same along with the current Skipper Bonus Points.
The Event Grade Multipliers will be tested as:
Grade WC - x 4.8
Grade 1 - x 3.7
Grade 2 - x 2.7
Grade 3 - x 2
Grade 4 - x 1.5
Grade 5 - x 1
The Event Bonus Factor is still under review. A system that will reward skippers throughout the five grades is the goal though may be difficult to achieve.
The Year Weighting for events in Year 2 of the calculation will be tested at x3, 2.5 and x2 in order to see the effect as the weighting is reduced.
One fear is that the new calculation will promote Skippers quickly but any time off from competition will be result is a fast drop in ranking position.
The 14 January release has been calculated using the factors used last year.
It is hoped that the testing and final tweaking will be completed ready for implementation on the 23 March Ranking Release after the first Open Grade 1 Event the Marseille International Match Race. Questions or feedback via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings will be on 23 March 2005 up to and including the results of the ISAF Grade 1 Marseille International Match Race.