ISAF Match Racing World
Following on from his win at the ISAF Match Racing World Championship in September, October proved just as fruitful for Australia's James SPITHILL after he produced a magnificent comeback to defeat seven-time winner and defending champion Russell COUTTS (NZL) in the final of the ISAF Grade 1 King Edward VII Gold Cup in Hamilton, Bermuda. The victory gave SPITHILL his first Gold Cup and consequently he reclaims the number three spot in the Rankings he held for the early part of 2005, knocking COUTTS back to fourth place in the process.
On his way to victory in Bermuda, SPITHILL defeated Ed BAIRD (USA) in the semi final, but despite this loss, the American has built up sufficient points over the last two years to retain his Ranking top spot. In much the same way as in the Women's Rankings, it is BAIRD's consistent level of performance over the entire two year spell that counts towards the Rankings, which currently gives him the upper hand over his rivals. However, where for the majority of this year it has been BAIRD and Peter GILMOUR (AUS) who have been the main contenders for the World number one spot, the recent successes of SPITHILL and COUTTS, have turned the battle for the lead of the Rankings into a genuine four way race, with less than 1,000 points separating first and fourth place, and fewer than 100 between BAIRD and GILMOUR at the top.
The ISAF Grade 1 Monsoon Cup at the start of December, brings the ISAF Grade 1 circuit to a close in 2005 and could well prove to be a fascinating battle ground with the World number one spot up for grabs. COUTTS for one, has already confirmed his attendance.
|Christopher RAST (right) had
a great month on the match
racing scene away from his more
© Maurizio Malcesine
The other significant change at the top this release sees Staffan LINDBERG (FIN) re-enter the World top ten at number ten after an excellent third place in Bermuda. A little further back Gavin BRADY (NZL) continues to make strides towards the top 20, moving up twelve places to 25 after finishing seventh at the Gold Cup, whilst Tino ELLEGAST (GER) goes from 48 to 32 and secures his place in next year's ISAF Grade 1 Match Race Germany after victory at the ISAF Grade 3 Qualifying event.
Several newly crowned National Champions make a move up the Rankings, starting with winner of the ISAF Grade 3 RYA Match Racing Championship Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES (GBR) going from 18 to 15. Winner of the ISAF Grade 3 U.S. Match Racing Championship Brian ANGEL (USA) climbs from 110 to 83 and Slovenian Match Racing Champion Jure OREL (SLO) goes from 119 to 92. OREL actually lost out to a non-Slovenian, Croatia's Dario KILBA in the final in Izola, and he moves up to 90 from 135.
The young Italian Matteo SAVELLI makes a big move from 115 to 77 after winning the ISAF Grade 4 Campionato Nazionale U25 on his home waters, although his rise is dwarfed by 49er sailor Christopher RAST (SUI) who climbs massively from 226 to 97 after winning the ISAF Grade 3 International German Championship and finishing second at the International Berlin Championship Match Race of H-Boats. Philipp KADELBACH (GER) also makes big gains from 168 to 98 after finishing fourth at the German Championship and winning the ISAF Grade 4 Postdamer Yacht Club Match Race also on his home waters. Lower down the Rankings Turkey's Orkun SOYER rises from 1197 to 392 after a terrific win at the ISAF Grade 4 Match Race d'Autunno in Italy.
The highest of the new entries in this release is the new Norwegian Champion, Geir Dahl ANDERSEN, who goes straight in at 336. After the ISAF Grade 3 All India Match Racing Selection Trials For Asian Championship four Indian skippers also enter the Rankings, whilst the Trials winner Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN confirmed his spot as the top Ranked Indian sailor and climbs from 347 to 193.The next release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings will be the final one of 2005 on 7 December and will include the results from the ISAF Grade 1 Monsoon Cup in Malaysia.
|Claire LEROY stays top in the
Rankings after a second
Worlds bronze medal
© Charles Anderson/PPL
Both eventual winner BARKOW and bronze medallist LEROY enhanced their already impressive reputations at the recent ISAF Grade W Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Hamilton, Bermuda. After a slow start on day one, where both skippers were familiarizing themselves with the J/24 keelboats, LEROY first and then BARKOW came back to blitz the opposition. After three defeats in her opening three matches, followed by a loss to BARKOW in her penultimate match of the day, LEROY was faced with the very realistic prospect of elimination in the opening round robin. However, the Frenchwomen has not risen to claim the World number one spot for nothing and under pressure found her best form, winning every one of her next nine matches, taking her through Sunday and Monday undefeated and into the semi finals on Tuesday. There though she met Betsy ALISON (USA), and despite going 1-0 up, eventually lost out to the experienced American.
In the final ALISON lined up against the defending champion BARKOW. BARKOW's passage to the final had also been less than smooth, having to win all four of her final round robin matches to make the last six and then narrowly squeezing into the semi finals at the expense of Marie BJÖRLING (SWE). However, on the final day of the Championship on Tuesday BARKOW found her very best form, brushing aside Denmark's Nina BRAESTRUP 2-0 before scoring three straight wins to conclusively defeat ALISON in the final and lift the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship Trophy for the second year running.
BARKOW's second consecutive World title is a tremendous achievement for the American, especially considering only three months earlier she had taken victory at the ISAF Grade W Yngling World Championship in Austria. However, whereas across the eight events which count towards a sailor's World Ranking LEROY is only including podium finishes, BARKOW is only including four podium finishes, so despite her two Worlds wins, for the time being she only climbs up to third place.
Nicky SOUTER her team
Unsurprisingly the changes at the top of the Rankings are dominated by those sailors who did well at the Worlds. BJÖRLING may well feel disappointed to have so narrowly missed out on a semi final place, but nether the less, fifth place at the Worlds combined with two wins on her home waters at the ISAF Grade 3 Swedish Match Racing Championship and ISAF Grade 3 Ladies Nordic Match Race Championship see her stay second in the Rankings and close the gap to LEROY. Finishing fourth at the Worlds, BRAESTRUP will feel a little hard done by after increasing her Ranking points total by almost 800 points, but still falling a place to fourth in the Rankings due to the rising BARKOW. Meanwhile Worlds runner up ALISON climbs up six places to 13 and is still only counting five out of a possible eight events. Racing in her debut Worlds as a skipper Nicky SOUTER (AUS) put in a fantastic performance to make the second stage round robin and combined with her win at the ISAF Grade 3 Line 7 Australian Women's Match Racing Championship moves back into the World top 20 at 16.
The two other new entries into the top 20 both had victories in Germany in the latest Rankings period. Silke HAHLBROCK (GER) won the ISAF Grade 3 International German Championship on her home waters to move from 25 to 15, whilst Malin KÄLLSTRÖM (SWE) took the honours in the ISAF Grade 1 Ladies Match Cup and moves back towards the top ten spot she occupied until the previous Rankings' release, rising from 23 to number 12.
A little further down the Rankings there are two new entries into the top 50. Suzanne WILLIM (GER) leads the way, moving up almost 20 places from 53 to 38 after finishing fourth at the International German Championship and fourth at the Swedish nationals lifts Linda HÄRSJÖ (SWE) from 61 to 46.
Amongst the 14 new entries this month, which take the Women's Rankings ever closer to the 200 mark, one of BARKOW's principle rivals from the Yngling world, Kristin WAGNER (GER) is the highest new entry at 51 after losing to KÄLLSTRÖM in the final of the Ladies Match Cup.
The next release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings will be the final one of 2005 on 7 December and will include the results from the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Osprey Cup in the USA.