Sunday, 26 September 2010

Women's Match Racing Worlds: Lucy MacGregor (GBR) Wins

Lucy MacGregor and crew: the 2010 World Champions. Image copyright Fried Elliott/

by Michael Levitt

If Lucy Macgregor and her British team felt pressure this morning in her semifinals match against France’s Claire Leroy, it was nothing compared to the emotions she felt coming from behind to win her first match racing world championship today at New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court.

The finals of the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship played out better than anyone could have scripted. Macgregor defeated two-time world champion Leroy then faced the American team led by Sally Barkow, also a two-time world champion. Barkow led the British team 2-1 by consistently gaining the advantage to the right side of the course as the lead changed almost each leg.

Racing during the finals and petite finals. Image copyright Fried Elliott/

The final two races Barkow was able to pull even but Macgregor was just a little faster and crisper on the beats. In the fourth race, the British team passed Barkow while giving the Americans a penalty they could not overcome.

“We were gaining all the time,” said a beaming Macgregor with her teammates Annie Lush, Kate Macgregor and Mary Rook. “We just wanted to keep it close.”

And close it was. But it was the final start that predicted gold for the British. “The time on distance was hard, and we were on our back foot the whole prestart,” said Kate Macgregor, Lucy’s sister. “With the current going up wind we just made it.”

Lucy MacGregor's crew (GBR) are pleased with Gold! Image copyright Fried Elliott/

Macgregor’s team, coached by World Match Race Tour winner Ian Williams, won the right side that paid so well for the Americans and kept the slimmest of leads all the way around the course.

For Barkow, though her team of Elizabeth Kratzig, Alana O’Reilly and Suzy Leech, did not win, their second place qualifies them for the top level of funding for the US Sailing Team Alpha Graphics in 2011. They join only one other team in the U.S. with this distinction, Paige Railey in the Laser Radial.

Sally Barkow and crew (USA) are happy with the Silver medal. Image copyright Fried Elliott/

The petite finals match up for third and fourth also went to the maximum, three races. France’s Leroy won the first match against Nicky Souter and then her Australian team gave the French a foul in the second; it was enough to win the race.

In the third and final race, with the boats nearly overlapped all the way around the course, Souter received a penalty on the final run in a wild broach and luff. The Australian team came out ahead then was able to hook the French and sailed them upwind 200 yards until they were able to clear their penalty with a tack and perfect set to win the series.

Nicky Souter's crew (AUS) acknowledge the Bronze medal. Image copyright Fried Elliott/

This world championship will certainly go down as one of the most competitive in history and Barkow’s coach, match race champion Dave Perry, put the state of women’s match racing in perspective. “This regatta indicates that anyone of eight or more teams can win a gold medal in Weymouth in 2012,” said Perry. “In the gold fleet round robin, four of the six teams were tied with three wins. All this shows is nobody has put it all together yet. There are no breakaways.”

The rest of the teams not sailing surely knew the anxious feelings today’s podium finishers felt. Watching from the 100-foot schooner Meteor, teams cheered and watch pensively as the boats raced around as if they were tied to each other. Whether they won or finished the regatta in the repechage series, all the sailors were hungry to carry on with their campaigns and set their sites on the Olympic Games.

Video of Race One of the Finals:

1 Macgregor GBR
2 Barkow USA
3 Souter AUS
4 Leroy FRA
5 Tulloch USA
6 Skudina RUS
7 Groeneveld NED
8 Spithill AUS

Women's Match Racing Worlds