by Zoe Hawkins
Silja Lehtinen skippers Team Audi, leading the scoreboard after the first day
The youngest skipper in the line-up, Silja Lehtinen of Finland, lies in first place after eight matches in the first day of racing in the BSport ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championships. Lehtinen is closely followed on the scoreboard by Australian Nicky Souter and Liz Baylis from the USA, who each have four wins after five races. With just a very narrow range of scores separating the top six skippers, the quarter finals spots will be very closely fought tomorrow.
Josie Gibson of Britain has four wins from six races to be in fourth place, while Gemma Farrell has two wins from six races.
Lehtinen, who is 22 years old and well known as a versatile sailor in skiff, dinghy and keelboat classes, is ranked 13th in the world and is also a contender at the Beijing Olympics, in the Yngling class.
Conditions on the Waitemata Harbour this morning started out on the light side, but the prevailing south-westerly developed to a steady 15-18 knots, gusty and shifty at times.
Liz Baylis says things went their way today. 'I think our crew work was good. We had good starts and our practice in the time we came down for the New Zealand Nationals and our week in Sydney was really rewarding. We worked a lot on our boat speed and handling and it was invaluable.'
New Zealander Jess Smyth, who holds four wins and two losses to sit in the top six, described the day as challenging but a lot of fun. A highlight for her crew was finally taking out Gemma Farrell from Great Britain at the last top mark to win that race. 'We got on the bad side of a really good shift at the start, but pulled it back and beat her to the finish,' she says.
Racing starts at approximately 10am each day on the inner Waitemata Harbour, concluding on Sunday 6 April.
Total Points (after flight 8)
The Germans celebrated mightily after they beat World No. 1 Claire Leroy of France
Silja Lehtinen FIN - 5 wins / 1 loss / 6 races
Nicky Souter AUS - 4 / 1 / 5
Liz Baylis USA - 4 / 1 / 5
Jessica Smyth NZL - 4 / 2 / 6
Josie Gibson GBR - 4 / 2 / 6
Claire Leroy FRA - 4 / 2 / 6
Katie Spithill AUS - 3 / 3 / 6
Silka Hahlbrock GER - 3 / 3 / 6
Christelle Philippe FRA - 3 / 3 / 6
Lotte Meldgaard DEN - 2 / 3 / 5
Gemma Farrell GBR - 2 / 3 / 5
Sabrina Gurioli ITA - 2 / 4 / 6
Jan Dawson NZL - 0 / 6 / 6
Camilla Ulrikkeholm DEN - 0 / 6 / 6
The BSport ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championships are hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and sponsored by BSport, Giltrap City Toyota and Auckland City Council.