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5 April 2008, 09:40 am
Semi Finalists Decided In Auckland
Claire LEROY
Defending champion and world #1 Claire LEROY of France has her sights firmly focused on retaining her title

BSPORT ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2008
Auckland, New Zealand

Claire LEROY, Silja LEHTINEN, Liz BAYLIS and Josie GIBSON progressed to the semi-final stage on day four of the BSPORT ISAF Women's Match Racing Worlds.
Each secured two wins from two races in today's quarter finals, knocking their opponents, including all three Southern Hemisphere skippers, out of top-four contention on the penultimate day of the BSPORT ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship.

Before racing concluded for the day, defending champion and world #1 Claire LEROY (FRA) went on to secure two wins over Josie GIBSON (GBR) in the first flights of the semi-finals, whilst Liz BAYLIS (USA), the 2002 World Champion and Silja LEHTINEN (FIN), the youngest of the 14 skippers in Auckland are squared at 1-1.

Conditions on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour have been the lightest yet, presenting 10-14 knots from the northeast, with flat seas and strong tides.

The final two flights in the repechage were completed this morning, with BAYLIS joining Australian Katie SPITHILL as the two last-chance contenders for the remaining quarter final spots.

The quarter finals themselves commenced at lunchtime and were complete by 14:30, as only two flights were required. GIBSON enjoyed the greatest margin in the two matches, beating Silke HAHLBROCK of Germany by 1 minutes and 12 seconds in race 1 and 30 seconds in race 2. BAYLIS beat Nicky SOUTER (AUS) by 41 seconds and 38 seconds respectively. New Zealander Jessica SMYTH put up a more convincing fight, only trailing LEHTINEN by 5 seconds in race 1, and by 30 seconds - largely owed to a penalty for contact with LEHTINEN's rudder when sailing in from clear astern - in race 2.

In the biggest tie of the round the gold and silver medallists from last year's Worlds, LEROY and SPITHILL faced off. The defending champion and 2007 Rolex World Sailor of the Year has been on fine form this year and made no mistake, conquering SPITHILL by 15 seconds and 20 seconds.

The losing teams in the quarter finals then sailed off, with SPITHILL of Australia securing fifth and HAHLBROCK of Germany finishing in sixth. SOUTER - who led the regatta after the Round Robin - completed her event in seventh place, and SMYTH of New Zealand slipped back to eighth.

Defending champion LEROY of France says that her team started the day against Australian SPITHILL feeling a little stressed. "But we did well and now we have to think about the end of the semi finals. It's not finished yet… now we have everything to win."

"The race course was pretty challenging today," comments BAYLIS, who seemed to benefit from the lighter conditions and was enjoying the feeling of today's success. "The team is doing a great job of staying focused and finding the pressure that's out there on the course."

The BSPORT ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship are hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and sponsored by BSPORT, Giltrap City Toyota and Auckland City Council. Racing will conclude tomorrow, Sunday 6 April, with the remaining semi-final matches before the final to decide the tenth winner of the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship Trophy.

Results

Semi Finals

Claire LEROY (FRA) vs. Josie GIBSON (GBR), 2-0
Silja LEHTINEN (FIN) vs. Liz BAYLIS (USA), 1-1

Quarter Finals

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

Round Robin
(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.
Zoe Hawkins
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