Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Women's Match Racing Worlds Day One

Katie Spithill of Australia is undefeated after the first day of racing. Image copyright Friedrich T Elliott/

by Michael Levitt

Despite a lackluster morning with a flattening northerly and a glassed-off bay, a spectacular 16-knot seabreeze unfolded where the cream started to rise to the top of the ISAF Women’s Match Race World Championship.

Precisely predicted by principal race officer Dr. Robin Wallace, the wind darkened the mouth of the bay as the tide began to flood, and the Red Group from stage one of the event finished off their four flights with head-to-head battles.

Tied atop the Red Group leader board is Lucy Macgregor and Katie Spithill. It would be simple to call these two rivals, but any spectator today would have seen that in a steady wind, rarely shifting off 232 degrees, lead to even starts and finishes with teams broaching together on the line.

New Zealand’s Samantha Osborne had one such finish rolling Anne-Claire Le Berre of France within a boat length of the finish. “We started setting up for that move at the top mark, and it took the whole leg,” said Osborne who is competing in her first match race worlds. “Match racing is like a fast chess game. You have to be thinking two to three steps ahead all the time.”

In the Blue Group that did not start racing today until around 3 p.m., the top ranked sailors in the fleet all won their first two races setting the stage for someone to fall. Anna Tunnicliffe and her team were the first of the top group to drop a race. A close loss to her US Sailing Team Alpha Graphics teammate Sally Barkow was a bitter pill to swallow but all sailors acknowledged today that these are very early stages.

Australia’s Nicky Souter, who recently won her last two events here in the States and in England, finished the day undefeated along with double world champion Claire Le Roy.

The results are showing no light between most of the teams in each race. If today is any sign of things to come, the rest of the week will be filled with photo finishes and a daunting climb towards the finals as the weekend draws near.

Part-Round Robin Results

Red Group
MacGregor (GBR) 4-0
Spithill (AUS) 4-0
Tulloch (USA) 3-1
Bossard (FRA) 2-2
Le Berre (FRA) 2-2
Osborne (NZL) 2-2
Bekatorou (GRE) 2-2
Meldgaard (DEN) 1-3
Lehtinen (FIN) 0-4

Blue Group
Leroy (FRA) 4-0
Barkow (USA) 4-0
Tunnicliffe (USA) 3-1
Groenveld (NED) 3-1
Souter (AUS) 3-1
Skudina (RUS) 3-1
Ulrikkeholm (DEN) 0-4
Senfft (BRA) 0-4
Kliba (CRO) 0-4
Goncalves (POR) 0-4

Women's Match Racing Worlds