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15 October 2005, 02:51 pm
The Best In The World And Any One Of The Twelve Teams Could Win
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Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2005
Hamilton, Bermuda

While young girls from the local Optimist dinghy fleet carried the flags of the twelve teams representing seven nations in the World Championship team procession at Camden last night to the tunes of a Scottish piper, the Premier, the Honorable W. Alexander SCOTT and Mrs. SCOTT officially opened the Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship starting today in Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda.
Eleven top ranked women skippers from throughout the world and 2004 ISAF World Champion Sally BARKOW (USA) will compete in a continuous round robin format battling not only for the honour of becoming the 2005 World Champion but also for a shot at winning $5,000 in prize money and a chance to compete in The Investor Guaranty's presentation of the ISAF Grade 1 King Edward VII Gold Cup.

'All of the top women are here and it is like coming home for us,' said Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED), who is ranked number four in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings and whose team won last years' ISAF Grade 1 Cicada Women's Match Racing Championship in Bermuda and went on to compete in the Gold Cup. ZUIDERBAAN and her team not only face local match racing legend and Olympian Paula LEWIN who is ranked twelfth in the world, but must defeat BARKOW and French World number one Claire LEROY if they are to defend their title here.

'We know we are up against the best in the world and any one of the twelve teams could win it here,' ZUIDERBAAN said. 'But, because we did well last year we feel very confident starting out today.'

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© Bob Grieser/PPL
The match racing this weekend will feature not only the twelve women's teams but also the men's unseeded qualifying rounds for the King Edward VII Gold Cup, which puts twelve J/24 and ten IOD boats on the racecourse. The women will race in the four person J/24, which were re-rigged, and feature brand new sails, making the boats nearly identical in speed and performance ability. The men will sail in the heavier International One Design boats. The course will be M-shaped and the race committee will run four legs - with leg one heading upwind and leg four finishing downwind.

'By utilizing this M-course format, we will run over 132 races by Tuesday with the women sailing up to ten races in one day,' said Principal Race Officer Charles TATEM. 'It will be non-stop racing and an endurance test for all of the sailors.'

This is the third year in a row that Bermuda has held a women's match racing event just prior to the King Edward VII Gold Cup and the country is internationally renowned for its promotion of women in sailing.

'We have been consistently promoting women in match racing and have always made an effort to get women here to compete and to qualify to race in the Gold Cup,' TATEM said. 'We now have the honour of hosting Virtual Spectator's ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship which takes this to a whole new level.'

While the women's teams will offer high drama, the men and one other woman will be locked in a continuous battle as they compete in the 'open,' unseeded qualifying event of the King Edward VII Gold Cup for 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 including current members of teams challenging for the 32nd America's Cup including South African sailor Ian AINSLIE of the South African Team Shosholoza, New Zealander Cameron APPLETON of the French K-Challenge team and Poland's Karol JABLONSKI who helms the Spanish Desafio Espanol challenge and is a former ISAF Match Racing World Champion.

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

Laurie Fullerton. Image:© Bob Grieser/PPL
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