Sunday, 2 August 2009

Australia's Nicole Souter Takes Gold in Women’s Match Racing 2009

Sensational racing with two podium finishes for Sweden

by Josefine Ås

The last day of the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship 2009 was full of surprises. The big sensation of the day was Australian Nicole Souter’s impressive dominance, beating the former World Champion Claire Leroy in the semi finals and taking three straight victories against Marie Björling of Sweden in the final. Swedish Anna Kjellberg beat Claire Leroy in the battle for third in two straight victories.

The ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship 2009 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 Nicole Souter surprised the crowd when starting the day by winning three out of four semi final races against the hard beat Claire Leroy of France, and then beating veteran Marie Björling of Sweden in three straight wins in the final. Souter, ranked eighth on the ISAF women’s match racing world 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. 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", said an elated Nicole Souter, World Champion 2009. Souter’s main goal after the World Championship is training towards the Olympics 2012 in a serious campaign together with her fellow competitor Katie Spithill.

Wild card and underdog, Marie 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 loosing 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 Marie Björling, who will shoot up the world ranking list after her impressive achievement (now ranked 43!)", said Bjorling.

One of the day’s many surprises was not seeing the former World Champion and number one Claire Leroy on the podium. Leroy had the best result in the first round robin but finished fourth after Anna 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 prize giving ceremony and a new ISAF women’s match racing world ranking list will be released later on in August.

Final Result ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship 2009 (with ISAF women's match racing world ranking number in brackets)

1. Nicole Souter (8) AUS
2. Marie Björling (43) SWE
3. Anna Kjellberg (10) SWE
4. Claire Leroy (1) FRA
5. Katie Spithill (2) AUS
6. Camille Ulrikkeholm (13) DEN
7. Sally Barkow (7) USA
8. Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen (5) DEN
9. Lucy Macgregor (3) GBR
10. Linda Rahm (4) SWE
11. Silke Hahlbrock (6) GER
12. Christelle Philippe (19) FRA

ISAF Womens World Match Racing Championships/Lysekil Womens Match

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