Claire LEROY of France secured her second consecutive ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship title following the conclusion of racing in Auckland.
The 2008 BSPORT ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, the tenth edition of the championship hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on Waitemata Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand concluded with a frustrating finish as the wind failed to show up. Four prior days of superb racing had set the scene for a spectacular finale, but it was not to be
(FRA) successfully defended the title she won on her home waters of St Quay, France last year. American Liz BAYLIS
took silver, and Silja LEHTINEN
of Finland bronze in a frustrating day that was mostly spent waiting for the wind to arrive, meaning that final places for the split at first and third place were determined on countback.
LEROY, at 28 years of age and representing Sport Nautique de Saint Quay Portrieux, is the 2007 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year
. She has been virtually untouchable in her recent match racing career, hanging on tight to the #1 spot in the Women's ISAF World Match Race Rankings since May 2005.
"We are feeling very good, very emotional,"
she says. "It's a great moment. We had a cry."
Of LEROY's crew of Marie RIOU
, Elodie BERTRAND
and Claire PRUVOT
, both RIOU and PRUVOT are newcomers to the team this year, and in true LEROY style they have pulled together to achieve a distinctive edge in boatspeed that enables them to win time and time again.
While LEROY was disappointed not to meet up with BAYLIS in the finals, she was glad to have the confidence of knowing she had great round robin results to fall back on if needed. "We are very happy with all of the results. It's nice to come back with a trophy."
In the other semi-final, LEHTINEN beat American BAYLIS by 6 seconds in the third flight, bringing the score up to 2-1 in LEHTINEN's favour. Then, after a lengthy wait for wind, BAYLIS took both the final matches to get the best of three, and qualify for the finals with LEROY.
BAYLIS comments: "We had a great day today. The first race was an unforced error, but we had really good boat speed and closed up so much, then we used that boatspeed to our advantage in the following two races."
She says that her crew of Suzy LEECH
, Lee ICYDA
and Karina SHELTON
made some great tactical calls. "Suzy and Lee knew where they wanted us to go, and we made sure we sailed there as fast as we could."
She also admits to a psychological edge. "We felt like there was nowhere to go but up, and that gives you an edge. You just want to keep racing, and maybe take a little more risk."
Of missing out on meeting LEROY in the finals she says, "It would have been nice but the conditions were what they were. It pays to win early, then you're in position if races are cancelled."
Conditions were light for the day's racing, with a range often less than 5 knots and racing stalled for some time due to 180 degree wind shifts that Auckland is as famous for as its gusty southwesters.
Earlier in the day LEROY secured her third back to back win over Josie GIBSON
of Great Britain, beating GIBSON by 39 seconds in the last race of the semi-final.
Bronze medallist LEHTINEN, aged 22, is the youngest competitor in the fleet, a former World Champion skiff sailor, and a second year student at medical school. She entered the regatta ranked #8 in the world and with a team that includes her stepmother Vivi FLEMING LEHTINEN
, Maria KLEMETZ
and Livia VäRESMAA
, she is not only a skilled match racer: she will also represent Finland in the Yngling class at the Beijing Olympic Games later this year.
Fourth place finish GIBSON, a former 470 sailor, represents Island Sailing Club and also won through to the semi-finals in the 2007 edition of the ISAF Women's World Match Racing Championships.
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Commodore John CRAWFORD is hearty in both his congratulations of the winners, and his gratitude to the team who organized the event. "In particular I would like to congratulate this week's podium finishers. The spirit of competition from all concerned has been very rewarding to see,"
"We were disappointed with the conditions on the final day of racing, but the first four days of racing provided excellent sailing."
The BSPORT ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championships were hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and sponsored by BSPORT, Giltrap City Toyota and Auckland City Council.
The 2009 event will take place in Lysekil, Sweden.
1. Claire LEROY
2. Liz BAYLIS
3. Silja LEHTINEN
4. Josie GIBSON
5. Katie SPITHILL
6. Silke HAHLBROCK
7. Nicky SOUTER
8. Jessica SMYTH
9. Christelle PHILIPPE
10. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN
11. Camilla ULRIKKEHOLM
12. Sabrina GURIOLI
13. Jan DAWSON
14. Gemma FARRELL
(FRA) vs. Josie GIBSON
(USA) vs. Silja LEHTINEN
Claire LEROY (FRA) d. Katie SPITHILL (AUS), 2-0
Silja LEHTINEN (FIN) d. Jessica SMYTH (NZL), 2-0
Liz BAYLIS (USA) d. Nicky SOUTER (AUS), 2-0
Josie GIBSON (GBR) d. Silke HAHLBROCK (GER), 2-0
Repechage Round Robin
(top two skippers qualify for quarter finals)
1. Katie SPITHILL (AUS), 7 wins-0 losses
2. Liz BAYLIS (USA), 6-1
3. Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA), 4-3
4. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN), 4-3
5. Camilla ULRIKKEHOLM (DEN), 2-5
6. Sabrina GURIOLI (ITA), 2-5
7. Jan DAWSON (NZL), 2-5
8. Gemma FARRELL (GBR), 1-6
(top six skippers qualify for quarter finals)
1. Nicky SOUTER (AUS), 11 wins-2 losses
2. Claire LEROY (FRA), 10-3
3. Silja LEHTINEN (FIN), 10-3
4. Silke HAHLBROCK (GER), 8-5
5. Josie GIBSON (GBR), 8-5
6. Jessica SMYTH (NZL), 8-5
7. Liz BAYLIS (USA), 7-6
8. Katie SPITHILL (AUS), 6-7
9. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN), 6-7
10. Gemma FARRELL (GBR), 5-8
11. Jan DAWSON (NZL), 4-9
12. Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA), 4-9
13. Camilla ULRIKKEHOLM (DEN), 2-11
14. Sabrina GURIOLI (ITA), 2-11
Full Results - click here
Event website - click here
Find out more on the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship at www.sailing.org/wmatchworlds.