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26 March 2008, 10:30 am
Match Race Rankings - 26 March 2008
World #1 Claire LEROY at the Harken Women's International Match Race
World #1 Claire LEROY and her crew on their way to victory at the Harken Women's International Match Race in Sydney

ISAF World Match Race Rankings

The French duo of Claire LEROY and Mathieu RICHARD remain on top in the latest release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings on 26 March.
France has now held the top spots in the Open and Women's simultaneously for the last four Ranking releases. For the chasing pack, the two leading French skippers have also sent out ominous messages with their performances early in the year. Both Claire LEROY (FRA) and Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) have lived up to their world #1 billing at the start of 2008, scoring victories at the year's leading events to date. RICHARD's win came at the first ISAF Grade 1 event of the year, the Marseille International Match Race, whilst LEROY scored a trio of wins at ISAF Grade 2 events in Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

The wins are particularly timely as the match racing season is just set to swing into top gear. For RICHARD there is now less than one month until the battle for the 2008 ISAF Match Racing World Championship gets underway with the first World Match Racing Tour event in Brazil. LEROY has even less time to wait - the 2008 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship gets underway at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, New Zealand next Tuesday 1 April.

The next release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings will be on 16 April, following the ISAF Grade WC ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in New Zealand.

Open Rankings

New events included in this Ranking release:

Grade 1 - Marseille International Match Race, FRA
Grade 2 - RYA Winter Challenge Final, GBR
Grade 2 - RYA Winter Challenge 5, GBR
Grade 2 - Algarve Cup Match Racing, POR
Grade 2 - Warren Jones Youth Regatta, AUS
For ISAF Grade 3-5 events included see www.sailing.org/regattasearch

Chart showing the progession of the top five skippers

Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) remains at the top of the tree for the fourth consecutive release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings. RICHARD gave a perfect demonstration of why he's world #1 with an impressive win at the first ISAF Grade 1 event of the year, the Marseille International Match Race. Great Britain's Ian WILLIAMS remains at #2, just ahead of Paolo CIAN (ITA), the beaten finalist in Marseille.

Just behind the top three Bjorn HANSEN (SWE) and Sebastien COL (FRA) trade places, with the Swedish skipper hitting his best-ever World Ranking at #4. Frenchman Damien IEHL (FRA) equals his career-best Ranking by climbing two places to #6, following a double victory in Great Britain at the RYA Winter Challenge 5 and the Winter Challenge Final.

Torvar MIRSKY (AUS) also posts a Ranking-best performance with a four-place climb up to #7. The 21 year old Australian skipper won the ISAF Grade 2 Warren Jones Youth Regatta for the second year running on his home waters in Perth, before heading to Europe where he finished runner up to IEHL at the Winter Challenge Final and fifth in Marseille. Following his four-place rise, MIRSKY is the only new entry into the world top ten in this release and the only non-European skipper.

Further down the Ranking list, another young skipper on the rise is New Zealand's Adam MINOPRIO. The 22 year old Kiwi, who lost out to MIRSKY in the final of the Warren Jones Regatta and also finished runner up at the ISAF Grade 3 Hardy Cup shortly after, climbs 13 places up the Rankings to #30. Two other skippers rising sharply are Portugal's Rui BOIA and Manuel WEILLER VIDAL of Spain, respectively the winner and runner up at the ISAF Grade 2 Algarve Cup in Portugal. Both skippers hit career-best Rankings, with BÓIA climbing 19 places up to #37, whilst WEILLER VIDAL is an even higher riser, improving his Ranking from #75 to #33.

Just a little further back at #42 is Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN (IND), who confirmed his status as his nation's top match racer in by adding another Indian Match Racing title to his collection this March. Likewise Takumi NAKAMURA (JPN) comfortably remains Japan's top match racer on the Rankings, with victory at the ISAF Grade 4 Kururu Match in Hayama the latest in a long line of event wins on his home waters. Following on from his victory in Hayama, NAKAMURA is one of the highest risers in this Ranking release jumping over 100 places from #185 to #58.

Women's Rankings

New events included in this Ranking release:

Grade 2 - Harken Women's International Match Racing Championships, AUS
Grade 2 - New Zealand Womens Match Racing Championships, NZL
Grade 2 - RYA Women's Winter Challenge, GBR
Grade 3 - Punta Lagoa Women's Match Race, ESP

Chart showing the progession of the top five skippers

The 2007 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Claire LEROY (FRA) remains well clear at the top in the Women's Rankings, her 22nd consecutive release in the world #1 spot. The French skipper has been on fine form at the start of this year and will go into the 2008 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship title on a high after recent victories at ISAF Grade 2 events in New Zealand and Australia.

LEROY will defend her World title at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, New Zealand from 1-6 April, and is a hot favourite after going unbeaten through the start of the year. LEROY may have been in New Zealand for the first time and sailing the unfamiliar the Elliott 6 sports boat, but the 28 year old skipper and her crew appeared right at home to take victory at the New Zealand nationals before getting the best of a very high-quality field in Sydney. Following on from those two victories, LEROY extends her 300+ points lead at the top of the Rankings.

Denmark's Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN stays at #2 and also looked on good form ahead of the Worlds with a strong showing in Sydney. The experienced Danish skipper, who has three World Championship medals to her name (one silver and two bronze), made the final four in Sydney before successive losses against the Australian skippers Nicky SOUTER (in the semi-final) and Katie SPITHILL (petit-final).

SPITHILL's third place finish in Sydney helps keep here comfortably in the world #3 spot. Fellow Australian SOUTER remains at #12 despite her second place finish at the Harken Match Race, as she is only counting seven of a possible eight events in her points total. More importantly for the 23 year old Australian skipper however, her runners up finish in Sydney eared her the final spot amongst the 14 skippers who will contest the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship next month.

Another young skipper who will contest the Women's World title is Finland's Silja LEHTINEN. She came close to repeating her 2007 victory at the RYA Women's Winter Challenge, eventually losing out to LEROY in the final (it had been the other way around in 2007). That result boosts her Ranking by two places up to #8.

Two skippers will represent the host nation, New Zealand at the Worlds. Jessica SMYTH will lead the Kiwi charge as her nation's top-Ranked skipper at #17 in this release (up three places). However it was Jan DAWSON, the President of Yachting New Zealand, who won the recent New Zealand national title, a result which gives her a big lift up from #75 to #46 in this Ranking release.

ISAF World Match Race Rankings - www.sailing.org/mrrankings
Open Rankings - www.sailing.org/mrorankings
Women's Rankings - www.sailing.org/mrwrankings
ISAF Events & World Rankings homepage - www.sailing.org/events

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