As the top female match-racing sailors made their final bid for a berth in the semi-final match, Paula LEWIN of Bermuda demonstrated her masterful sailing skills as she went undefeated (7-0) after three days of racing.
As the top finisher, Lewin will choose amongst the other final finishers including Jenny AXHEDE of Sweden (4-3), Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN of Holland (4-3), and Guila CONTI of Italy (4-3) who, like Lewin, have a shot at entering the qualifying round of the Investors Guaranty presentation of The King Edward VII Gold Cup where they will compete for prize money totalling $100,000.
Lewin faced one of her toughest matches of the three days during the final race against French sailor Clare LEROY who had two lead changes and a photo finish with the two boats just seconds apart.
"The last race was one of the most difficult of the regatta and Leroy did a great job and I got lucky that she opened up a slot and we came in,"
Lewin said. "All the women sailing here are at the highest level in sailing. They are all very good. Tomorrow we have to get through the semis and the finals, and then we will start thinking about the men. I like to take it one day at a time."
For Swedish sailor Axhede, boat speed and great starts was key to her reaching the semi-finals. "Today, when the wind began disappearing as I was racing against Paula we had to rethink our position but it went well."
Things did not go so well for the American sailors Betsy ALISON and Cory SERTL who are both veteran sailors and have a number of championships in their own right.
"We had three wins today and although I was sailing more like I wanted to it was too little too late,"
Alison said. "We struggled for speed yesterday and it is frustrating when you are in a come from behind position. But we won all our matches today and closed out strong and I can't be disappointed with that."
One factor for the women teams this week were the International One Design boats and Lewin admits that most match racing sailors today are competing in lighter, smaller boats. In fact, for many of the teams it was their first encounter with these heavy meter boats.
"I think that the I.O.D.'s were a factor more than the women realized,"
Lewin said. "Today, so many women compete in different types of boats but these do take some getting used to."
"There was a learning curve to the boats themselves and yet we are always learning,"
All the women were applauded for their fine efforts by Lady Judy Vereker, whose husband is the Governor of Bermuda, who agreed that any time women have a chance to excel and learn in a man's world is a good thing.
"This is so much interest in this event here in Bermuda and it has really become the Wimbledon of sailing,"
she said. "I think the fact that the women can compete here against each other and then against the men is important and a great experience for them."
Results After 7 Races: top 4 move into semi-finals
P. Lewin 7 - 0
J. Axhede 4 - 3
G. Conti 4 - 3
K. Zuiderbaan 4 - 3
C. Sertl 3 - 4
B. Alison 3 - 4
C. Leroy 2 - 5
I. Sakudo-Horikowa 0 - 7