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14 October 2005, 09:23 am
The Skippers - Part Two
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Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2005
Hamilton, Bermuda

The Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship will get underway tonight with the Opening Ceremony in Hamilton, Bermuda. Racing in the opening round robin begins tomorrow and in the second of a two part feature, www.sailing.org looks at the skippers who will be going for gold in Bermuda.
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© Graziano Marchi/
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Claire LEROY (FRA)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 1
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 3rd 2004
2004 ISAF Worlds Result: 3rd
Best Results of 2005: Winner - ISAF Grade 1 Women Trentino Match Race, ISAF Grade 2 Women's Antibes Cup, ISAF Grade 3 Spring Cup in Quay, ISAF Grade 3 JPMorgan Fleming Women's Challenge, ISAF Grade 3 Selective de Ligue St Quay (Open)
Crew: Elodie BERTRAND, Ingrid CERRATO, Borothee Martin D'AURAY

Claire LEROY (FRA) has had a fantastic twelve months, which last month culminated in her nomination for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of Year Award. At last year's Worlds in Annapolis she secured her best result of third. However it could have been an even better Championship for the Frenchwomen had not the winds deserted Annapolis when her semi final with eventual champion Sally BARKOW (USA) was all square at 2-2. BARKOW had taken the early advantage, wining both the first two matches, before LEROY fought back to 2-2 to set up a deciding final match. However the conditions interfered and after a complex series of calculations based on tie-breakers and points earned throughout the regatta, BARKOW ended up as champion with LEROY taking her first ISAF Worlds' medal.

Her performance in Annapolis combined with top three finishes at the Europeans, ISAF Grade 1 Swedish Match Cup and ISAF Grade 1 Women's Match Racing at Lake Ledro, Italy and a victory at the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Osprey Cup in the USA saw LEROY rise up to second in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings by the beginning of 2005. However, in front of the Frenchwomen stood Marie BJÖRLING (SWE), a formidable opponent and a long term leader of the Rankings, but this year LEROY has fully hit her stride. She has already record five victories this season and take the World top spot from BJÖRLING.

LEROY and BJÖRLING have met twice this year in the latter stages of the major events. The Frenchwomen took the upper hand, beating BJÖRLING 3-1 at the ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium in Spain in May to effectively take the top Ranking spot. However in July it was BJÖRLING who got the better of her rival, with a 3-1 victory in the semi final of the ISAF Grade 1 Swedish Match Cup. Later in the year, BARKOW has been LEROY's principle rival and again the honours have been even, with LEROY defeating the American in the final of the ISAF Grade 1 Women Trentino Match Race in Italy, but BARKOW wining shortly after at the ISAF Grade 1 St. Quay Women Match Racing in France.

Come the start of racing in Bermuda tomorrow, LEROY will be looking to maintain her fantastic form and unite the World number one spot with the World Championship title.

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© Dan Ljungsvik

Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 3
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 6th 2003, 2002
2004 ISAF Worlds Result: 15th
Best Results of 2005: Winner - ISAF Grade 3 Ladies Cup; 2nd - ISAF Grade 2 Women's Antibes Cup
Crew: Tina Schmidt CHRISTENSEN, Anne-Sophie LOHSE, Line MORKEBJERG

2005 has been a solid if so far unspectacular year for Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN), who has made the semi finals in four of the six events she has entered and has now held a top five position in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings for well over a year. Her best performance of the year came on her home waters at the ISAF Grade 3 Ladies Cup in Skovshoved, Copehagen where she defeated then number one in the Rankings Marie BJÖRLING (SWE).

That win coupled with a third place at the ISAF Grade 1 International Women Match Race Criterium and a second place to Claire LEROY (FRA) at the ISAF Grade 2 Women's Antibes Cup in France helped propel BRAESTRUP up to second in the Rankings, before BJÖRLING fought back to push the Dane down to third. Come the racing in Bermuda she will be looking to find the form that took her to victory in Denmark and improve on her previous Worlds' best of sixth.

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© Walter Cooper

Jenny AXHEDE (SWE)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 6
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 9th 2004
2004 ISAF Worlds Result: 9th
Best Results of 2005: 5th - ISAF Grade 1 St. Quay Women Match Racing; 6th - ISAF Grade 1 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup
Crew: Johanna SARNA, Nina BAKE, Erin ADERMAN

One of three Swedish skippers at the event, Jenny AXHEDE (SWE) is making only her second appearance at the ISAF Worlds, having finished ninth in her debut last year. 2005 has seen a steady improvement by AXHEDE, with consistently high finishes at the top events lifting her up to number six in the World. At both the ISAF Grade 1 St. Quay Women Match Racing and ISAF Grade 1 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup she narrowly missed out on a semi final spot.

Come the racing in Bermuda, AXHEDE will be competing against familiar faces and looking to build on her experience last year. As Sally BARKOW's (USA) unexpected victory last year proved, any of the twelve competitors can claim the title and AXHEDE will similarly be looking to take advantage of her underdog status.

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© Dan Ljungsvik

Linda RAHM (SWE)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 9
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 11th 2003
2004 ISAF Worlds Result: 14th
Best Results of 2005: Winner - ISAF Grade 4 Swedish Qualifier Swedish Match Cup; 2nd - ISAF Grade 3 Swedish National Match Racing Championship
Crew: Suzanne NYBERG, Helena BARNE, Anna NORDLANDER

Former Europe sailor Linda RAHM (SWE) goes to Bermuda looking to make her mark on the Worlds and improve on her previous best performance of eleventh. Last year in Annapolis she finished a disappointing 14th place, but 2005 has seen her back on form, climbing back into the top ten in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.

Recently she reached the final of the ISAF Grade 3 Swedish National Match Racing Championship, only to come undone against Marie BJÖRLING (SWE). However earlier in the year RAHM got the better of her country mate, and went on to defeat 2003 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Malin MILLBOURN (SWE) to claim the honours at the ISAF Grade 4 Swedish Qualifier Swedish Match Cup. If she can show the same form in Bermuda, a Worlds' best performance look almost certain.

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Paula LEWIN (BER)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 12
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 4th 2004
2004 ISAF Worlds Result: 4th
Best Results of 2005: 3rd - ISAF Grade 1 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup, ISAF Grade 3 Bermuda National Match Racing Championship (Open), ISAF Grade 5 Anna Roed Bell IOD Match Race (Open)
Crew: Peta LEWIN, Leatrice ROMAN, Lisa NEASHAM

Home favourite Paula LEWIN (BER) was extremely unlucky to miss out on a medal at last year's Worlds in Annapolis, USA, losing out to a complex series of calculations to finish fourth after her semi final with Betsy ALISON (USA) had to be stopped at 2-2 due to a lack of wind. Like Linda RAHM (SWE), LEWIN is a former Europe sailor and she represented her nation at the 1996 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Returning to Annapolis this year, LEWIN's challenge was again cut short by light winds at the semi final stage. This time she was tied 2-2 with Claire LEROY (FRA) and the calculations were slightly more favourably, giving her the bronze medal.

LEWIN will be right at home on the waters off Hamilton Habour and is sure to be able to count on plenty of support from the local sailing fans. She has successfully competed twice recently in Bermuda, coming third and top women at two open events, the ISAF Grade 5 Anna Roed Bell IOD Match Race and the ISAF Grade 3 Bermuda National Match Racing Championship. LEWIN will be looking to repeat this local success come Tuesday.

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© Arthur Spithill/Sailsportz

Nicky SOUTER (AUS)

ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 22
Best ISAF Worlds Result: Debut Worlds
2004 ISAF Worlds Result: Did not compete
Best Results of 2005: 1st - ISAF Grade 3 Line 7 Australian Women's Match Racing Championship; 2nd - ISAF Grade 3 New Zealand Women's Match Racing Championship, ISAF Grade 4 NSW Women's Match Racing Championship
Crew: Katie SPITHILL, Angela FARRELL, Rayshele MARTIN

Nicky SOUTER (AUS) was a late entry into the Worlds after the withdrawal of Christine BRIAND (FRA). However she enters the Championship in the middle of a purple patch, having last month clinched a repeat win at the ISAF Grade 3 Line 7 Australian Women's Match Racing Championship by defeating the sister of ISAF Match Racing World Champion James SPITHILL (AUS), Katie SPITHILL (AUS) 3-1 in the final. SOUTER and SPITHILL both come from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and last year when SPITHILL qualified for the ISAF Worlds, SOUTER joined her crew who were to eventually finish sixth. This year SOUTER qualified and returned the favour with SPITHILL on tactics for the Australian team.

Bermuda will be the first time SOUTER has competed as a helm in an ISAF Graded event outside of Oceania and she could well prove to be the surprise package of the Championship. Nobody from outside Europe or North America has ever claimed a medal at an ISAF Women's Match Racing Worlds, a record that stands in stark contrast to the success the Australians and New Zealanders have had in the open event. SOUTER will be aiming for success in Bermuda and with it a place in the record books.

Racing begins in Bermuda at 0900 hours local time tomorrow, with the twelve skippers taking part in the opening round robin. The top six skippers will then move on to a second round robin, with the top four from that progressing to the semi finals. In a straight knockout the first skipper to score two points will then progress to the final, where the Champion will be the first to score three points.

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

ISAF. Image, Who will pick up the prized ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship medals on Tuesday?:© ISAF
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