by Daniel Smith
Olympic sailor and World #2 Anna Kjellberg of the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club is the 2014 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion. Together with her crew – Karin Almquist, Vanja Lundberg and Annika Carlunger – the Swede defeated Danish World #1 Camilla Ulrikkeholm (DEN) 3 – 1 in their Scandinavian battle in Cork Harbour, Ireland.
Team Kjellberg Celebrate - ISAF Women's Match Race World ChampionSHIP 2014
'This is absolutely incredible. We've never before sailed a regatta with such a great crew feeling,' the Swedish skipper smiled. 'The last few weeks of my life have been completely crazy, giving birth to my daughter just five weeks ago, and now this,' she said, laughing and shaking her head.
With three victories needed to win the final of the 2014 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, Ulrikkeholm gained an early advantage by winning the first match of the final. Strong but very shifting and puffy winds, together with a swift current, put the sailors to the test. The second meeting ended in a fierce fight around the course, but Kjellberg kept control and passed the finish line one boat length ahead of her opponent.
When the Swedes won the third match, they put Ulrikkeholm under great pressure to break back. In the fourth match the Danes got away ahead, but didn't cover the Swedes well enough on the second upwind. Kjellberg was allowed to tack away for clear air, found an advantageous wind shift and passed into a leading position which she was able to maintain to the finish.
'We've improved in every match during this regatta, and we know that in match racing it's never over until it's over. I think we had the right nerves today, with a rather calm feeling in the boat even when the competition was tough,' Kjellberg analysed after her golden match.
On her loss Ulrikkeholm commented, 'In these conditions it was hard also to be ahead. We made some mistakes not covering the Swedes enough, and then we didn't have as good boat handling as the other days of the regatta.'
Kjellberg's bowman Annika Carlunger had no less than seven World Championship silver medals before this regatta, sailing with different helmsmen over the years. Now she got her eagerly awaited gold medal and shouted after having passed the finish line, 'Finally, after all these years.'
In the Petit Final Caroline Sylvan (SWE) put up a tough fight against Stephanie Roble (USA), but the American crew proved to be strongest at the end. With two straight wins they secured the bronze in the 2014 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, the first event out of five on the 2014 Women's International Match Racing Series.
'We never felt comfortably in control, but my team did an awesome job all the way around the course,' said Roble who praised her crew.
'We've done some fantastic races, and we're proud to be the second Swedish crew in the top four of this Championship,' Sylvan smiled, not too disappointed.
Results in the 2014 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, the first event out of five on the 2014 Women's International Match Racing Series:
Anna Kjellberg, SWE, defeated Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN, 3 – 1
Stephanie Roble, USA, defeated Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 2 – 0
Total results (skipper name, country, prize money, WIM Series points):
1. Anna Kjellberg, SWE, 3 000 €, 25
2. Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN, 2 000 €, 22
3. Stephanie Roble, USA, 1 500 €, 20
4. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 1 250 €, 16
5. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 1 000 €, 15
6. Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED, 750 €, 14
7. Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, DEN, 500 €, 13
8. Claudia Pierce, NZL, – ,12
9. Annabel Vose, GBR, – , 10
10. Mary O'Loughlin, IRL, – , 8
11. Laura Dillon, IRL, – , 6
12. Lucie Scheiwiller, FRA, – , 4
13. Anne-Christianne Kentgens, NED, – , –