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The ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship was concluded in perfect conditions today in Lysekil, off the west coast of Sweden. With clear blue skies and a nice breeze of 15 knots of wind, the many spectators witnessed outstanding racing with tough tacking duels and excellent boat handling in the intense matches between the world's best skippers.
The young Australian SOUTER surprised the crowd when starting the day by winning three out of four semi final races against the 2008 and 2007 World Champion LEROY of France, and then beating veteran BJÖRLING of Sweden in three straight wins in the final. SOUTER, ranked #3 on the Women's ISAF World Match Race Ranking list, sailed perfectly all day, sticking every manoeuvre and taking all the right tactical decisions. The 25-year old Australian has already competed in three previous World Championships but never finished on the podium. She has never competed in Lysekil before and did definitely not belong to the favourites of the regatta.
"Our expectations were quite low coming here," SOUTER explained. "We have very little experience in this boat and we would be more than happy making it to the top six. When we then made it to the semi finals, meeting Claire LEROY, all the odds were against us. We were not nervous and sailed without pressure."
SOUTER's main goal after the World Championship is training towards the Olympic Games 2012 in a serious campaign together with her fellow competitor Katie SPITHILL (AUS).
Wild card and underdog, BJÖRLING of Sweden, has had a two-year break and no one really expected her to make such a stable performance. But BJÖRLING has a long experience of match racing, with four previous silver medals and topping the World Ranking lists for a long time.
"We are of course disappointed after losing the final but we are still very happy with our performance. We started sailing again in May after a two-year brake. With that short training time and the fact that the competition was tougher than ever this year we are even prouder," said BJÖRLING, who will shoot up the World Ranking list after her impressive achievement (now ranked 43!).
One of the day's many surprises was not seeing the former World Champion and world #1 LEROY on the podium. LEROY had the best result in the first round robin but finished fourth after KJELLBERG of Sweden beat her in two straight victories in the fight for third.
The 50,000 Euro prize purse will be distributed tonight at the prizegiving ceremony and a new Women's ISAF World Match Race Ranking list will be released later on in August.
1. Nicky SOUTER (AUS)
2. Marie BJORLING (SWE)
3. Anna KJELLBERG (SWE)
4. Claire LEROY (FRA)
5. Katie SPITHILL (AUS)
6. Camilla ULRIKKEHOLM (DEN)
7. Sally BARKOW (USA)
8. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN)
9. Lucy MACGREGOR (GBR)
10. Linda RAHM (SWE)
11. Silke HAHLBROCK (GER)
12. Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA)
Claire LEROY (FRA), 10-1
Marie BJORLING (SWE), 9-2
Anna KJELLBERG (SWE), 8-2
Nicky SOUTER (AUS), 6-5
Katie SPITHILL (AUS), 6-5
Camilla ULRIKKEHOLM (DEN), 6-5
Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN), 5-6
Sally BARKOW (USA), 5-6
Lucy MACGREGOR (GBR), 5-6
Linda RAHM (SWE), 4-7
Silke HAHLBROCK (GER), 2-9
Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA), 0-11
The ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2009 / Lysekil Women's Match is with its 50,000 Euro prize purse the world's biggest competition in women's match racing. Lysekil Women's Match is organized by Sailnet Lysekil AB together with Lysekil Yacht Club Gullmar. The main sponsors of this year's championship are: Preem and Stena Bulk, with Carpe Diem Beds of Sweden, Concordia Maritime, Evidens and Sebago as partners and Lysekil as Host City.
Lysekil Women's Match - www.lysekilwomensmatch.se
All the latest details on the 2009 Worlds, together with a full archive of results from previous championships is available on the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship microsite at www.sailing.org/wmatchworlds.