Large spectator crowds in Cork harbour saw world #1 Camilla Ulrikkeholm of Denmark defeat Sweden's Caroline Sylvan 3 - 0 in their semi final of the 2014 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship.
In the other semi-final of the first event on the 2014 Women's International Match Racing Series, the Swedish crew helmed by world #2 Anna Kjellberg went through to the final after beating Stephanie Roble of the USA.
It took some thrilling matches until the matter was solved with the Swede winning 3-2. "We managed to keep our good flow from the quarter finals, and I think we sailed five really good races against Roble," analysed Kjellberg.
Kjellberg won the first match and Roble the next two. The exciting fourth match showed the crowds at the Camden Fort Meagher grandstand a whole bunch of the tricks that skilled match racing sailors at this top level keep up their sleeves. Finally it was the Swedish crew who best handled the shifty winds, complex tide and choppy waves, controlling their boat and the American opponent all the way through to the finish.
When entering from port for the fifth match, Kjellberg lost focus for a few seconds and did not keep clear of Roble, who approached on starboard tack, and was immediately penalised by the umpires.
"It's so obvious that on this level you can't afford the slightest mistake. I shouted to my girl's that we'd have to do the match of our lives," Kjellberg explained.
The Swedes managed to get over the starting line even with Roble and a frenetic tacking duel up the first beat began. After rounding the top mark the Americans didn't fill their kite fast enough, allowing Kjellberg to stretch away by few boat lengths. On the second upwind the Swedes had extended their lead enough to quite comfortably take their penalty turn, and when Roble repeated her spinnaker problems on the last downwind, the Swedish victory was sealed.
"I saw Stephanie coming with great pressure from behind, but I never thought she was threatening us," Kjellberg said.
Roble commented, "It was close racing and I'm proud of the way we sailed today. It's a team effort around the course and we all worked very hard. Anna made less mistakes and that paid off, so I'm wishing her the best for tomorrow."
With two Swedish teams in opposite semi finals, the odds for seeing them in the final of the 2014 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship were quite good. But as the other semi final was sailed between Ulrikkeholm and Sylvan, the Dane showed that it's no coincidence she's on top of the ISAF Women's Match Race Rankings as she defeated her Swedish opponent in three straight matches.
"We got a penalty in the second prestart, after a stupid mistake from the skipper, but still managed to get ahead and win that one. And the other two matches I think we controlled very well, staying in the right position," Ulrikkeholm said.
On the defeat Sylvan said, "They covered us completely and didn't allow us any game room at all. We raced the best we could and learned a few new tricks, but they were obviously the best today."
Results in the semi finals of the 2014 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, the first event on the 2014 Women's International Match Racing Series. The winning skippers advance to the final:
Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN, defeated Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 3 - 0
Anna Kjellberg, SWE, defeated Stephanie Roble, USA, 3 - 2
The results in the sail-offs for place 5 - 8:
5. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA
6. Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED
7. Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, DEN
8. Claudia Pierce, NZL
For further information on the Women's Match Racing World Championships please see www.matchracing.ie