by Craig Heydon
Buddy Melges Challenge, an ISAF Grade 1 women’s match racing event, is currently underway in Sheboygan, Wisconsin USA.
Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Katie Spithill in Sheboygan - Buddy Melges Challenge 2011
The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Katie Spithill are set to race for a Bronze medal on the final day of racing.
The trio started the day locked one-all in their quarter-final matchup against Renata Decnop of Brazil with the Australians coming out firing, winning the next two races to progress to the semi-finals three wins to one.
Souter and crew took on the French team skippered by Anne-Claire Le Berre in the semi-final coming back from two-nil down to take the semi to a fourth race, with the Australians eventually losing three wins to one.
Souter, Eastwell and Spithill will take on Julie Bossard of France in the Bronze medal playoff on Saturday.
'This morning we won our last two quarter-final matches off the line and held the lead around the course against Brazil to progress through to the semi-finals three-one,' said Spithill. 'This meant we came up against Anne-Claire Le Berre of France in the semis.
'Races one and two of the Semis were won by the French in a very stable breeze leaving no shifts or opportunities, with a small lead and power of the right being enough to secure the wins for the other team,' she said. 'We got a prestart penalty on them in race one and were close behind around the course but it wasn’t enough, with a very close finish and Le Berre completing her penalty on the line the race was awarded to her.
'By races three and four we had more air and an extremely choppy race course,' said Spithill 'We won race three with a strong pre-start and lead off the line and around the course. Race four was a split tack start and a very close downwind with us rounding just ahead at the bottom after a very busy rounding. They were then able to hold us to a layline, allowing them to maintain a small lead to the finish and take the semi three-one.
'We had a lot of close and exciting racing today and are looking forward to fighting for third place tomorrow,' she said.
Fellow Australians Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty faced an uphill battle on the penultimate day of racing, starting the day two-nil down in their quarter-final against Julie Bossard of France.
Price and crew started in the best possible way, winning the first race of the day to take the quarter-final to a fourth race but ultimately lost to the French three wins to one.
The Australians then progressed to the first fifth to eighth place playoff where they came up against Ru Wang of China. Price, Curtis and Whitty won the playoff two-nil, moving through to take on American Genny Tulloch in the fifth and sixth playoff.
The Americans came out on top two-nil with the Australian crew finishing the regatta sixth overall.
Australian Sailing Team website