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1 April 2008, 11:46 am
Skipper Profiles For Women's Match Racing Worlds
The ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship medals
Find out more about the 14 skippers who will compete this year for the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship medals

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

Get the low down on the 14 skippers who will contest the 2008 BSPORT ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand.
The 2008 BSPORT ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship is the tenth edition of the championship and the first ever to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, a name synonymous with match racing as the winner of the 1995 and 2000 America's Cup, hosts this year's event. Racing will take place from 2-6 April on Waitemata Harbour using the club's fleet of ten Elliott 6m sports boats, sailed by a crew of four.

This year 14 skippers and their teams will battle for the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship Trophy. A round robin followed by a repechage will narrow the line up for the knockout stages down to eight, with quarter- and semi-finals followed by the grand finale, the final of the 2008 BSPORT ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, scheduled for Sunday 6 April.

The tenth edition of the championship looks set to be one of the most fiercely contested to date. Featuring amongst the line up are defending champion and world #1 Claire LEROY of France together with the two other podium finishers from last year, Australia's Katie SPITHILL and Denmark's Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN. No nation has won more medals at the championship than the USA, and this year they are well represented by 2002 World Champion Liz BAYLIS. Australia and New Zealand will be looking to build on SPITHILL's success last year, when she became the first ever sailor from Oceania to win a medal at the championship. Only time will tell if their familiarity with the venue and equipment proves to be a big advantage.

Below and at www.sailing.org/wmatchworlds you can find out more about the 14 competing skippers.

Claire LEROY (FRA)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 1
Best ISAF Worlds Result: Champion, 2007
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: Champion
Recent Form: 1st - Harken International Women's Match Race, AUS; 1st - New Zealand Women's Match Race, NZL; 1st - RYA Women's Winter Challenge, GBR

Team: Mermaid Sailing Team
Yacht Club: Sport Nautique de Saint Quay Portieux
Crew: Marie RIOU, Elodie BERTRAND, Claire PRUVOT
Coach: Marc BOULET

Claire LEROY and her Mermaid Sailing Team are clear favourites going into this year's World Championship, after a year in which the French skipper has been the dominant force in women's match racing. Last year was the must successful ever for the 28 year old, who won the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship title for the first time, the European title and was named the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year. She is now approaching an unprecedented three-year unbroken spell at the top of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings and has been in top form in the run up to the start in Auckland.

The rest of the World Championship field would have been hoping the unfamiliar Elliott 6 sports boats would prove a stumbling block for the world #1 French crew, but successive victories in Auckland and Sydney have proved otherwise. All in all, LEROY and her crew of Marie RIOU, Elodie BERTRAND, Claire PRUVOT are the team to beat in Auckland.

Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 2
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 2nd, 2003
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: 3rd
Recent Form: 4th - Harken International Women's Match Race, AUS; 10th - RYA Women's Winter Challenge, GBR

Team: Team HSH Nordbank
Yacht Club: Royal Danish Yacht Club
Crew: Christina REFIN, Kristine Visborg STENSTROM, Mia Nini NIELSEN
Coach:

Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN and her crew line up in Auckland with an unmatched level of experience amongst the 14 competition teams. The Danish skipper originally starting out at the Royal Danish Yacht Club back in 1992 and this will be her seventh ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship appearance. Her past appearances have yielded plenty of success as well, with three ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship medals already in the trophy cabinet.

Consistent success has kept MELDGAARD PEDERSEN in the world #2 spot for over a year and she impressed at the recent Harken Match Race in Sydney.

Katie SPITHILL (AUS)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 3
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 2nd, 2007
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: 2nd
Recent Form: 3rd - Harken International Women's Match Race, AUS; 5th - New Zealand Women's Match Race, NZL

Team: Team Acuity
Yacht Club: Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club
Crew: Nina CURTIS, Jessica EASTWELL, Kristen SHORT
Coach: Traks GORDON

The 25 year old Australian skipper narrowly missed the World title last year, losing 2-1 in the final to LEROY. Since then SPITHILL and her Team Acuity have gone from strength to strength and made the world #3 spot their own.

Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 4
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 6th, 2007
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: 6th
Recent Form: 8th - Harken International Women's Match Race, AUS

Team:
Yacht Club: APCC
Crew: Julie BOSSARD, Celine DEVAUX, Vanessa GODET
Coach:

Christelle PHILIPPE and her crew secured their best-ever World Championship performance of sixth in St Quay last year. The French team from the match racing strong hold of the APCC Voile Sportive, home of world #1 in the Open Rankings Mathieu RICHARD, have been able to build on that performance with a string of medal-winning performances, although they are still yet to win an ISAF Grade 1 event.

Silke HAHLBROCK (GER)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 7
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 7th, 2007
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: 7th
Recent Form: 5th - Harken International Women's Match Race, AUS; 7th - RYA Women's Winter Challenge, GBR

Team: Team Germany
Yacht Club: Hamburger Segel-Club
Crew: Nele Marie BOCK, Marion ROMMEL, Kerstin SCHULT
Coach: Rob HIELKEMA

Silke HAHLBROCK is one of the youngest competitors in Auckland, but aged just 24, it hasn't taken the German skipper long to reach the upper echelons of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings. Typically her strongest performances have been on her home waters in Germany, although she impressed with a fifth place finish at the recent Harken Match Race in Sydney.

Silja LEHTINEN (FIN)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 8
Best ISAF Worlds Result: N/A
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: Did not compete
Recent Form: 2nd - RYA Women's Winter Challenge, GBR

Team: Team Audi
Yacht Club: NJK
Crew: Maria KLEMETZ, Livia VARESMAA, Vivi FLEMING-LEHTINEN
Coach: Ville VARESMAA

Silja LEHTINEN and her Team Audi have rapidly established themselves as one of the hottest prospects on the women's match racing circuit, impressively combining their talents in head-to-head racing with an Yngling Olympic campaign. Most recently LEHTINEN and her team made the final of the RYA Women's Winter Challenge, eventually losing to LEROY (who she had beaten to win the event in 2007). Although making their debut at the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, they are definitely a team to watch.

Liz BAYLIS (USA)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 11
Best ISAF Worlds Result: Champion, 2002
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: Did not compete
Recent Form: 10th - New Zealand Women's Match Race, NZL

Team: San Francisco Women's Match Racing Team
Yacht Club: San Francisco Yacht Club
Crew: Lee LCYDA, Karina SHELTON, Susy LEECH
Coach:

Along with LEROY, Liz BAYLIS is the only other ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion in the 14-strong line up, having lifted the title in Calpe six years ago. The current US Women's Match Racing Champion also has history on her side; no other nation has won more medals at the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship than the eight collected by American skippers.

Nicky SOUTER (AUS)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 12
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 6th, 2005
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: 10th
Recent Form: 2nd - Harken International Women's Match Race, AUS; 3rd - New Zealand Women's Match Race, NZL

Team: Team Musto
Yacht Club: Royal Princes Alfred Yacht Club
Crew: Kylie MCKILLOP, Lilly TAYLOR, Rayshele MARTIN
Coach:

With the exception of Claire LEROY, Nicky SOUTER is perhaps the form sailor going into the start of racing at this year's Worlds. Like her sparring partner at the Royal Princes Alfred Yacht Club, Katie SPITHILL, SOUTER is well-used to the Elliott 6 sports boats and will be relishing the opportunity of taking on the world's finest in Auckland. Finished as runner up to LEROY amongst a very strong line up including all of the world top four at the recent Harken Match Race in Sydney.

Gemma FARRELL (GBR)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 13
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 11th, 2007
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: 11th
Recent Form: 10th - Harken International Women's Match Race, AUS; 8th - RYA Women's Winter Challenge, GBR

Team: Team Sail 4 Cancer
Yacht Club: Royal Thames Yacht Club
Crew: Lucy BURN, Imogen WELLINGTON, Bethan CARDEN
Coach:

Gemma FARRELL and her Team Sail 4 Cancer form one half of the British challenge who will be aiming to win their nation's first medal at the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship at this year's Worlds. After two years spent campaigning an Yngling, she has concentrated more exclusively on the ISAF Graded match racing circuit for the past two years and consequently made big improvements in her World Ranking.

Josie GIBSON (GBR)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 14
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 4th, 2007
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: 4th
Recent Form: 9th - Harken International Women's Match Race, AUS; 9th - RYA Women's Winter Challenge, GBR

Team: e1 Business / Andark Diving
Yacht Club: Island Sailing Club
Crew: Barbara WATSON, Rachel LARMAN, Bex MARRIOTT
Coach: Paul GLIDDON

Josie GIBSON was the surprise package of last year's World Championship in St Quay, where she narrowly missed out on a place in the final after a 2-0 lead ended in a 3-2 defeat to Katie SPITHILL in the semis. The former 470 sailors will be looking for a repeat performance in Auckland this year.

Sabrina GURIOLI (ITA)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 15
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 6th, 2001
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: Did not compete
Recent Form: 5th - Punta Lagoa Women's Match Race, ESP

Team:
Yacht Club: Club Velico Ravennate
Crew: Elena ORIOLI, Alessandra ANGELINI, Lisa LARDANI
Coach:

Italy's leading match racer and the 2006 European Champion makes her return to the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship following a four-year break. To date her best performances, including her World Championship best of sixth, have come on her home Italian waters.

Camilla ULRIKKEHOLM (DEN)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 16
Best ISAF Worlds Result: N/A
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: Did not compete
Recent Form: 6th - RYA Women's Winter Challenge, GBR

Team: Team Accura
Yacht Club: Royal Match Race Center
Crew: Rie HOLM, Signe FABRICIUS, Joan VESTERGAARD
Coach: Gustav HANSEN

Camilla ULRIKKEHOLM makes her debut at the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship this year and will be looking to add to the phenomenal success of fellow Danes Dorte JENSEN and Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN. A relatively recent addition to the women's match racing circuit, she has rapidly established herself in the world top 20.

Jessica SMYTH (NZL)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 17
Best ISAF Worlds Result: 8th, 2007
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: 8th
Recent Form: 6th - Harken International Women's Match Race, AUS; 4th - New Zealand Women's Match Race, NZL

Team: Team Georgia Racing
Yacht Club: Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Crew: Aimee FAMULARO, Sandy KIFF, Anna DE FLUITER
Coach: Roger WOOD

Jessica SMYTH heads up the home challenge at this year's event and is also the youngest competitor, aged 23. She finished a very creditable eighth at her debut Worlds in St Quay last year, and will be looking to build on that performance in Auckland this year.

Jan DAWSON (NZL)

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ISAF World Match Race Ranking: 46
Best ISAF Worlds Result: N/A
2007 ISAF Worlds Result: Did not compete
Recent Form: 2nd - New Zealand Women's Match Race, NZL

Team: Team KPMG
Yacht Club: Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Crew: Carla HOLGATE, Laura HEMMINGWAY, Rebekka HIELKEMA
Coach: Harold BENNETT

Jan DAWSON is the second of New Zealand's competitors at this year's Worlds and enters the event on a high, having just won the New Zealand national title a few weeks ago. Although she is the lowest Ranked competitors at the championship and has never before competed in an ISAF Grade 1 event, her familiarity with the venue and the equipment is unmatched. As well as being her country's match racing champion, DAWSON is also the President of Yachting Zealand.

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