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18 October 2005, 09:09 am
LEROY, BRAESTRUP, ALISON And BARKOW Make Semis
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Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2005
Hamilton, Bermuda

The second stage of the Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Hamilton, Bermuda went down to the wire yesterday, with the final matches proving vital to the make up of the semi finals. Claire LEROY (FRA) climbed back from the bottom of the fleet to finish first, whilst Marje BJÖRLING (SWE) was knocked out of the competition in the day's final race with Betsy ALISON (USA), who went though along with Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN) and defending champion Sally BARKOW (USA).
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The top four finishers, who include the only two previous Worlds winners in the fleet, ALISON and BARKOW and number one in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings LEROY, will sail in the semi final and final rounds today.

'That is the amazing part about this kind of match racing in that you can be first and then you can be out,' LEROY said. 'After our performance on the first day we decided to go out there and just see what happens. We were too stressed at the beginning but today we stayed focussed.' The ploy obviously worked for LEROY, who won all of her matches yesterday to cruise into the semi final stage and have her pick of opponents.

Having sailed a near flawless regatta, BJÖRLING struggled throughout the day, then received a penalty during the pre-start sequence in her final race against American ALISON, which cost her the regatta. She came ashore still puzzled by the reason for the penalty and totally phased out by her sudden downfall.

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Caire LEROY was the star of the
show in Hamilton yesterday
© Bob Grieser/PPL
'After fighting so hard it is difficult to lose it through an umpire's call but that is the way it is in match racing,' BJÖRLING said, adding. 'But, we have had a wonderful regatta and hope to be back.'

As the Swedish team stood down, a young Danish team led by BRAESTRUP finished their round robin in second place after sailing consistently over the three days.

'The first day was one of our best but struggled today to win three races, and by mid day we were down two and facing American Sally BARKOW,' BRAESTRUP said. 'We thought it was the end, but defeated BARKOW in a very close match and stayed in the game. We are very happy to be the semi final round.'

Veteran sailor ALISON, a Worlds winner back in 1998, finished in third place after defeating BJÖRLING in their final match.

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Betsy ALISON leads Nicky
SOUTER
© Bob Grieser/PPL

'We really had some good races today but did make mistakes. Being one of the older teams here, we have that experience over the younger ones that sometimes helps us,' ALISON said. 'I also think it is great that older women are in the final four and made the cut.'

Another young woman continuing to make her mark in match racing is the USA's defending champion BARKOW, who made a fantastic comeback after her teammate Carrie HOWE fell overboard during their race against ALISON.

BARKOW pulled HOWE back onboard just as HOWE was ready to let go of the boat, and although the Americans lost that race they went on to finish in fourth place. Eventually it was BARKOW's win over BJÖRLING which was to prove crucial, seeing the American ensured of a semi final place when the Swedish sailor lost to ALISON, despite the defending champion not completing her final match against LEROY.

'We set our goal to stay in the top six and now we are in the top four which is great,' BARKOW said. 'We got through our mishap today and hung in there. The competition is so tough and match racing is not something we do a lot of. We are more of a fleet racing team campaigning for the Olympics so this discipline is quite new to us. That we are right up there playing with the best is pretty great.'

LEROY, ALISON, BARKOW all made the semi finals of the Worlds last year in Annapolis, USA, whilst BRAESTRUP has already secured her best ever finish.

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Marie BJÖRLING and Betsy ALISON
battle in their crucial final match
© Charles Anderson/PPL
After semi final and final rounds today, the winner of the Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship will compete against the top seeded men skippers for a shot at winning The Investor's Guaranty presentation of the King Edward VII Gold Cup and a share of the $100,000 prize money.

'Having the women's event here is really exciting because we get the highest standard of match racing amongst the women and a chance to see the top women race against the top men,' said Lady VEREKER, wife of Sir John VEREKER the Governor of Bermuda. 'It is also great to see the younger women coming up and the veteran women encouraging them. And, as we have seen today, at any time the competition can turn depending on the change of weather or lots of other ingredients. But what comes out of it is the huge amount of respect that these women sailors have for each other.'

Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship Results

Second Stage Round Robin

Flight 1

Marie BJÖRLING d. Nina BRAESTRUP
Betsy ALISON d. Nicky SOUTER

Flight 2

Claire LEROY d. Nina BRAESTRUP
Betsy ALISON d. Sally BARKOW
Marie BJÖRLING d. Nicky SOUTER

Flight 3

Nina BRAESTRUP d. Betsy ALISON
Sally BARKOW d. Nicky SOUTER
Claire LEROY d. Marie BJÖRLING

Flight 4

Nina BRAESTRUP d. Nicky SOUTER
Claire LEROY d. Betsy ALISON
Sally BARKOW d. Marie BJÖRLING

Flight 5

Claire LEROY d. Nicky SOUTER
Nina BRAESTRUP d. Sally BARKOW
Betsy ALISON d. Marie BJÖRLING

Second Stage Round Robin Standings
(Top Four Progress To Semi Finals)

1. Claire LEROY (FRA), 4-0
2. Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN), 3-2
3. Betsy ALISON (USA), 3-2
4. Sally BARKOW (USA), 2-2
5. Marie BJÖRLING (SWE), 2-3
6. Nicky SOUTER (AUS), 0-5

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

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

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

Laurie Fullerton. Image, Sally BARKOW hauls in Carrie HOWE after she fell overboard in their match against Betsy ALISON:© Bob Grieser/PPL
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