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8 July 2003, 06:28 pm
World Championship Line Up Decided
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ISAF World Match Race Rankings

A fortnight is a long time in Match Racing, especially the last fortnight because, although there have been but two events counting towards the Rankings, the results of which have had the power to make or break World Championship hopes.
Both the Women's and the Open Rankings have been released today following the completion of the 2003 ISAF Grade 1, Swedish Match Cup, which concluded over the weekend with a well deserved and popular win for Chris LAW (GBR) in the Open event and Marie Bjorling in the women's.

This World Ranking is the cut off date, and the moment when the top nine skippers in the Open list will find out if they are to be invited to the ISAF Match Racing World Championship, to be held on the world renowned Lake Garda, Italy in August. As the defending World Champion, Karol JABLONSKI (POL) automatically receives an invite, thus leave the nine top-ranked skippers who will receive invitations as those placed from second to tenth in the rankings. The final two of the twelve skippers invited to the Worlds are the two skippers from the XXXI America's Cup Dean BARKER and Russell COUTTS.

ISAF World Match Race Rankings - Open

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Spare a thought for Mikael LINDQVIST (SWE). Up until the last rankings release at the end of June he was sitting fairly pretty in fourth place and probably fairly confident of an invitation to the World Championship. Then the last rankings of 25 June were released and he'd slipped to seventh. Not really a problem as he was still in the top ten in the world - and it appeared that the invitation would be ready for posting to him.

Enter stage left; James SPITHILL (AUS), Ed BAIRD (USA), Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) and now Paulo CIAN (ITA). Meteoric rises to the top of the pile of Match Racing Skippers following their sojourn at the America's Cup (three as sailors and one talking about it), and Lindqvist is not alone in seeing his World Championship hopes slip away at the last minute. Prior to the last rankings release, Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) was also fairly hopeful of a Worlds invitation, however, it was not to be and he now resides in 12 place in the rankings.

Four skippers have moved into the top ten over the last two weeks, so four must have dropped out of the top ten and be resigned to watching the Worlds and not competing? Not quite. Two weeks ago, Italian skipper Paulo CIAN saw his ranking position drop from fifth to 12, dangerously short of the points he wanted. With a lot of luck, and the chance to pull it back himself with a second in the ISAF Grade 3 Coppa del Campioni. A win at the Swedish Match Cup would have pushed him back into the top ten. Although Cian's result in Sweden was not as expected, the end result was the same as he succeeded in popping back into the golden ten on this ranking release.

Due to the rolling nature of the rankings over a two year period, Paulo CIAN's points for the 2002 UBS Challenge Cup Finals, drop from year one into year two, being replaced in year one by the 2003 Blurimini Match Race result, which actually give Paulo a points improvement of 300, leapfrogging himself into the top ten as a result, at the expense of Lindqvist and Williams.

The rest of the top ten, including defending World Champion Karol JABLONSKI (POL) are clear to see in the ranking chart, but meteoric rise of the week goes to Chris LAW (GBR), a veteran match race skipper who following his fantastic result in Sweden, has propelled himself up to 19 in the rankings from 31 only two weeks ago.

Ranking Skipper Nation Previous Events Points
1 Karol JABLONSKI POL 1 8 11171
2 Jesper RADICH DEN 2 8 11081
3 Jes GRAM-HANSEN DEN 3 8 10287
4 James SPITHILL USA 4 8 10191
5 Ed BAIRD USA 5 8 9645
6 Magnus HOLMBERG SWE 6 8 9266
7 Bjorn HANSEN SWE 8 8 8963
8 Mathieu RICHARD FRA 9 8 8958
9 Paolo CIAN ITA 12 8 8937
10 Staffan LINDBERG FIN 10 8 8902

ISAF World Match Race Rankings - Women

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Just the one event counted towards the Women's rankings this time around and as a result there is little change in the rankings. The top eight remain the same in fact, with Marie BJORLING (SWE) heading up the rankings, and countryman and ISAF Women's Match Race Champion Malin MILLBOURN in second.

One interesting move is the jump from 12 to ninth by another Swedish skipper, Malin KALLESTROM, as a direct result of her second place finish in the Swedish Match Cup last weekend. As an opposite to this Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN (NED) drops from ninth to twelfth position in this latest rankings release.

Only one entry into the top twenty this time around, as the fourth French skipper to appear in the World's top twenty appears in the form of Claire LEROY, who finished eighth at the Swedish Match Cup and as a result moves back into the fray, previously having hovered just outside the top ten. With only six events counting, another two good results on the board could see some big climbs from her.

Ranking Skipper Nation Previous Events Points
1 Marie BJORLING SWE 1 8 10347
2 Malin MILLBOURN SWE 2 8 9249
3 Nina BRAESTRUP DEN 3 8 8268
4 Marie FAURE FRA 4 7 8132
6 Liz BAYLIS USA 6 7 7692
7 Giulia CONTI ITA 7 8 7410
8 Betsy ALLISON USA 8 5 6929
9 Malin KALLSTROM SWE 12 6 6138
10 Gwen JOULIE FRA 10 8 6119
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