The final ISAF World Match Race Rankings for 2003 are released today, with the results of the recently concluded ISAF Grade 1 Nippon Cup, held in Hakayama, Japan last week, and the ISAF Grade 1 Marseille International Match Race counting.
Peter GILMOUR (USA) has firmly embedded himself back in the open circuit with his second Grade 1 win in a row, striking perhaps a sense of apprehension in his competitors. Those used to his absence may have become a little complacent without "Gillie" on the circuit, and were brought back to reality with a bump as he took the Nippon Cup home with him last week.
The Women's Rankings include the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Osprey Cup, which was held at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club at the beginning of last month, where the ever-improving Claire LEROY (FRA) took a well earned victory.
This is the final World Rankings for 2003, and whilst everyone looks forward to a break over the New Year, the first rankings in 2004 will be on 15 January and will be used to determine which skippers are invited to the BoatUS ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Annapolis next year.
The primary focus in the open rankings is outside the top six in the world, as there positions don't change following the ISAF Grade 1 Nippon Cup. There are two skippers whose meteoric blast into the top twenty is only halted from being a bigger jump, by the firmly placed Andrew ARBUZOV (RUS) in 16. These two skippers are Peter GILMOUR (USA) and Philippe PRESTI (FRA)
Both skippers are sure to be giving the rest of the top twenty a hard time in the months to come and we look forward to seeing their progress.
Another strong mover is Gavin BRADY (NZL), up to 26 from 44. Brady has recently returned to the ISAF match racing tour after an America's Cup stint as afterguard on Prada's Luna Rossa. However, it was his third place at the Nippon Cup which propelled him upwards. With the Grade 3 Lindauer New Zealand Match Racing Championships taking place this coming weekend, an event Brady won last year, alongside a few other events before the end of the year, it will not be long before Brady is back amongst the world's top 10, a position he was in a little more than a year ago.
A veteran of the Star Class, having competed at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Brady with crew Craig MONK can be found ranked 68 on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, the top ranked New Zealander team. However, it is likely that the Star sailing will be put on hold, as Brady has been signed up as helmsman for the Oracle BMW Racing Team in their America's Cup 2007 campaign.
Looking further down the rankings another America's Cup name making his mark back on the match racing tour is Dean BARKER (NZL), rising to 50 from 88. Barker is also carrying less than the maximum eight events, with his ranking based on just six events, with the fourth places at both the Nippon Cup and King Edward VII Gold Cup, both of which carry maximum ranking points, being the catalyst for his move up.
Claire Leroy and crew at the Rolex Osprey Cup
The victory Claire scored in the USA, pushed her from a marginal top twenty place in last month's release, to a solid top ten placing in this month's. She is now in ninth place, marking her highest ever placing on the world rankings, and relegates Malin KALLSTROM (SWE) into tenth place.
With the next rankings on 15 January 2004, being used to determine the women who will be invited to the BoatUS 2004 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, Leroy's result and subsequent position on the circuit could not have come at a better time. She is only counting seven events on the tour and as long as present form continues, she is assured a strong future in Match Racing.
Marie BJORLING (SWE) still leads the 2003 World Champion and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Nominee Malin MILLBOURN (SWE) at the top of the rankings, positions which are almost unassailable going into the invitation rankings next January.
Aside from Leroy, the only other significant mover on the world rankings is Carol CRONIN (USA), whose up to 25 from 32. This is a fairly significant placing, considering that Carol only counts three events, with her third place at the Rolex Osprey Cup moving her up in the world.
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