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16 October 2005, 11:13 am
ALISON Emerges As Leader After Day One
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Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2005
Hamilton, Bermuda

A sailing marathon took place yesterday on Hamilton Harbour during the Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship where twelve teams from seven nations completed 36 races in a round robin elimination series that will ultimately decide this year's 2005 ISAF Women's Match Racing Champion. American Betsy ALISON seized the initiative winning all six of her opening matches.
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Sailing identical J/24 keelboats without spinnakers due to the 20 knot + gusty winds, the teams who had consistently strong starts and boat handling skills were the ones to gain the most critical victories. At the end of the day, veteran American sailor ALISON, who won the first World title back in 1998, emerged undefeated with a 6-0 score.

'We had a lot of confidence going into the racing today and our experience in keeping the boat flat upwind was crucial,' ALISON said. 'We are fortunate in that we know and sail the J/24s well but we also had excellent crew work today.'

American Sally BARKOW, the reigning ISAF World Champion, must overcome a 3-3 deficit in order to stay in contention against the performances of sailors like ALISON, and Sweden's three-time runner up Marie BJÖRLING, who finished the day with a 5-1 score.

'We made small mistakes and that cost us but we will go out there tomorrow and do well,' BARKOW said.

BJÖRLING, who is ranked number two in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings said she is pleased with her standing and credits excellent crew work for the team's performance.

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Paula LEWIN in action yesterday
© Bob Grieser/PPL

'We sailed with a lot of discipline today and we made very few errors,' BJÖRLING said. 'The starts are really important and we had some very good starts which was great.'

Bermudian sailing legend and Olympian Paula LEWIN was disappointed with her 3-3 performance and expressed regret that she had not sailed in a J/24 more often.

'The J/24s turned out to be a big learning curve for us. We have sailed this event in International One Designs before and feel we should have practiced more in the J/24s,' LEWIN said. 'Losing two races today by a small margin was disappointing but losing our third race to Betsy ALISON was due to her amazing performance today.'

For Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN of the Netherlands, ranked number four in the world after winning last year's Cicada Women's Match Racing Championship in Bermuda, her current standing of two wins and four losses may be difficult to overcome in this competitive fleet.

'Lets just say that we made mistakes today and you cannot afford to make mistakes at this level. There was a lot of breeze and we don't know the J/24 that well,' she said. 'There were some things that we did very well and yet other things were not good enough. We are hoping to make tomorrow easier.'

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The racing on Hamilton
Habour
© Bob Grieser/PPL

France's World number one Claire LEROY had a discouraging day and faces a 2-4 deficit going into today's racing.

'Today was not a good day for us and we are disappointed,' LEROY said. 'We don't know the J/24s very well and things just didn't go our way. We are hoping that tomorrow will be better.'

Along with the Women's Championship, a continuous battle amongst eleven men and one woman rages as they compete in the 'open,' unseeded qualifying event for the ISAF Grade 1 King Edward VII Gold Cup and a shot at racing against the seeded challengers and a portion of the $100,000 prize money.

The unseeded sailors are some of the world's best and include teams members challenging for the 32nd America's Cup such as South African sailor Ian AINSLIE of Team Shosholoza, New Zealander Cameron APPLETON of the French K-Challenge and Poland's Karol JABLONSKI who steers the Spanish Desafio Espanol challenge.

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Cameron APPLETON and Ian
AINSLIE go head-to-head
© Bob Grieser/PPL

Eight top match race sailors are the seeded skippers entering the competition on Thursday and include ISAF Match Racing World Champion James SPITHILL (AUS), number one in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings Ed BAIRD (USA) and three-time America's Cup winner Russell COUTTS (NZL)

The other five skippers are Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Gavin BRADY (NZL) and Chris DICKSON (NZL).

Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship Results

Round Robin

Flight 1

Nina BRAESTRUP d. Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN
Marie BJÖRLING d. Claire LEROY
Sally BARKOW d. Jenny AXHEDE
Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN d. Paula LEWIN
Christelle PHILIPPE d. Linda RAHM
Betsy ALISON d. Nicky SOUTER

Flight 2

Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN d. Claire LEROY
Nina BRAESTRUP d. Jenny AXHEDE
Marie BJÖRLING d. Sally BARKOW
Paula LEWIN d. Christelle PHILIPPE
Betsy ALISON d. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN
Nicky SOUTER d. Linda RAHM

Flight 3

Marie BJÖRLING d. Jenny AXHEDE
Sally BARKOW d. Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN
Nina BRAESTRUP d. Claire LEROY
Nicky SOUTER d. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN
Betsy ALISON d. Christelle PHILIPPE
Paula LEWIN d. Linda RAHM

Flight 4

Nina BRAESTRUP d. Sally BARKOW
Claire LEROY d. Jenny AXHEDE
Marie BJÖRLING d. Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN
Nicky SOUTER d. Christelle PHILIPPE
Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN d. Linda RAHM
Betsy ALISON d. Paula LEWIN

Flight 5

Sally BARKOW d. Claire LEROY
Nina BRAESTRUP d. Marie BJÖRLING
Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN d. Jenny AXHEDE
Betsy ALISON d. Linda RAHM
Paula LEWIN d. Nicky SOUTER
Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN d. Christelle PHILIPPE

Flight 6

Marie BJÖRLING d. Linda RAHM
Claire LEROY d. Christelle PHILIPPE
Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN d. Nina BRAESTRUP
Nicky SOUTER d. Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN
Betsy ALISON d. Sally BARKOW
Jenny AXHEDE d. Paula LEWIN

Round Robin Standings
(Top Six To Progress To Second Stage Round Robin)

1. Betsy ALISON (USA), 6-0
2. Marie BJÖRLING (SWE), 5-1
3. Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN), 5-1
4. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN), 4-2
5. Nicky SOUTER (AUS), 4-2
6. Sally BARKOW (USA), 3-3
7. Paula LEWIN (BER), 3-3
8. Claire LEROY (FRA), 2-4
9. Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED), 2-4
10. Jenny AXHEDE (SWE), 1-5
11. Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA), 1-5
12. Linda RAHM (SWE), 0-6

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

Laurie Fullerton. Image, Betsy ALISON got off to a terrific start in Hamilton:© Bob Grieser/PPL
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