ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee Claire LEROY (FRA) and Marie BJÖRLING (SWE) at numbers one and two in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings are formidable opponents, but will have their work cut out for them as the field of competitors includes defending champion Sally BARKOW (USA) and her team who this year have already won the ISAF Grade W Yngling World Championship and just this month swept the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship.
With a scoreline totaling 14 points in ten races, BARKOW topped a 42 boat fleet stocked with impressive Olympic level competitors like Americans Jody SWANSON and Carol CRONIN. BARKOW, who is ranked number one on the US Sailing Team in the Olympic Yngling class, and her crew Carrie HOWE, Debbie CAPOZZI and Annie LUSH, may just be the team to watch in Bermuda.
During the ISAF event, the tension will build amongst the women match racing sailors as the winning women's team is not only challenging for the ISAF title but also the chance to advance to round one of The Investors Guaranty presentation of the ISAF Grade 1 King Edward VII Gold Cup. The victorious team wins $5,000, the ISAF Championship Trophy and the opportunity to race against the best male sailors in the sport today and have a shot at winning the coveted King Edward VII Gold Cup and a large share of the $100,000 prize money.
Veteran Bermudian sailor and Olympian Paula LEWIN and her sister and crew mate Peta LEWIN, are ranked twelve in the world of match racing and are formidable opponents in their own rights, in addition to competing on their home waters.
'Each year there is an increase in the level of competition, especially with the skippers who are returning from last year,' commented Paula LEWIN. 'This regatta has a lot of women from around the world attending and each year they become more savvy and knowledgeable when it comes to the weather and the boats.'
Also in the line up are American Betsy ALISON, runner up last year and a winner in back in 1998, and Dutch sailor Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN, ranked number four in the World and the overall winner of the women's event in Bermuda in 2004. ZUIDERBAAN and her team were then defeated in The King Edward VII Gold Cup tournament by America's Cup helmsman and top match racing sailor Ed BAIRD (USA).
'It is so great to do both the women's match race and have the chance to race the final rounds against the men,' said LEWIN. 'This is a high profile, well run event that every woman sailor wants to do.'
Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship Entrants
(Helm, Crew, Current ISAF World Match Race Ranking as of 22 September 2005)
For a complete list of all the news about the Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship CLICK HERE.