This year eight crews have been given the opportunity to participate in the Women's Class of the Swedish Match Cup, which starts tomorrow, 1 July in Gothenborg, Sweden.
Almost all of the highest ranked skippers will take part in this year's event, with the exception of home sailor Malin Källström. Malin on the other hand has good reason not to participate, since she is to become a mother soon. The first four skippers in the starting field qualify directly to the 2nd Round Robin (everybody against everybody), in which the semi-finalists will be chosen. These four are:
Marie Björling, sailing for the host club GKSS, has occupied the top slot on the world ranking for almost a whole year, thanks to an impressively even first-class performance. Runner-up in three World and two European match racing championships, the young midwife is still waiting for the big one with her Team Panorama. She was fourth in Marstrand in 1999 and 2000. Last year Marie and her team were knocked out before the semi-finals, so this year they are hungry for revenge.
Lotte Meldgaard-Pedersen from Denmark has ten years' experience as match racing helmsman, mainly in the Danish DS-racers used in the Swedish Match Cup. She has had national success in the Optimist- and Yngling classes and in offshore racing. Lotte works in offshore engineering.
Betsy Alison has been among the absolute elite in international women's sailing for quite a while. This American won the 1998 match racing World Championships, as well as the new Olympic Yngling-class Worlds last year. Betsy is hoping to add an Olympic gold medal from Athens 2004 to her collection. Betsy is the only woman who has had the distinction of becoming Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year five times, and if that is not enough, she has also been Rolex International Women's Keelboat Champion five times.
Sharon Ferris was offered a place in this summer's Swedish Match Cup after Italian Sabrina Gurioli had to drop out on short notice. Sharon, fourth in last year's Marstrand event, did not need to think twice. The 28-year-old from New Zealand has won numerous national championships in different classes, was fifth in E-dinghy in the Atlanta Olympics an has just completed a tour around the world on the Volvo Ocean Race-boat Amer Sports Too.
The last four on the list have to meet in a single Round Robin first to decide which two will go on to the 2nd Round Robin with the above mentioned four. This means that two of the following crews will be eliminated already after the races on Monday! The remaining two then sail another single Round Robin to get to the semi-finals. OK? Here are the last four in the starting field:
Dorte O Jensen has been unrivalled winner every year since the women's class was first introduced in Marstrand in 1999. Like all Danish match racing sailors she is well acquainted with the DS-racers. Her three match racing World Championship victories from 1999 - 2001 only add to the picture of Dorte's complete dominance in women's match racing. At the moment, she is concentrating her efforts on the Yngling-class and the upcoming Olympics, and has had to step down from the top of the world ranking.
Malin Millbourn has come up the long way in dinghy-classes, with a World championship gold medal in E-dinghy in 1996, when she sailed for GKSS. She now lives in Stockholm and sails for the Stockholm Royal Yacht Club, KSSS. Malin has a bronze medal from the match racing European Championships and finished a somewhat unexpected third in last year's Swedish Match Women's Trophy. This year, she has reinforced her Team Resco with - among others - Helena Barne, who leaves the helm on her own boat to be mainsheet trimmer on Malin's team.
Nina Braestrup won the international spring qualifier on her home waters just north of Copenhagen. Nina is 31 years old, with most of her sailing experience in keel boats and some Yngling. She has gained match racing experience from crewing on Danish and American constellations. For the last few years, Nina has taken the helm. She was ninth in last year's World Championship, and finished sixth in the Worlds in Spain this year.
Linda Adetoft from KKKK, in Swedish sailing Mecca Kullavik, won the Swedish qualifier and is now set for her first Swedish Match Cup experience. Like so many of the successful match racers Linda started in dinghies and has represented Sweden in a number of E-dinghy World championships. With three years' experience as match racing skipper she aims to reach the top ten on the world ranking within the next year.