Saturday 13 September was definitely a great day for women match racing, providing to spectators with some very tense matches. The final between Lucy MacGregor and Sabrina Gurioli of Italy went down to the wire and in the end it was a difference of just one boatlength in the fifth and final race which decided the outcome of the 2008 European Championship title in MacGregor's favour.
The big surprise actually came on Friday, when both Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA) second after two round robins, and Silke HAHLBROCK (GER), #4 in the Women's ISAF World Match Race Rankings, were pushed out of the semi-finals, the top four being compromised of Anne-Claire LE BERRE (FRA), Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN), GURIOLI and MACGREGOR. Two semi-final flights were then sailed, leading to a 1-1 scoreline in both the LE BERRE vs GURIOLI and MELDGARD-PEDERSEN vs MACGREGOR matches.
A second surprise followed on Saturday when LE BERRE, winner of the round robins, missed out on the final, after being flagged by the umpires after not responding fast enough to a luffing move from GURIOLI. In the second semi-final there was also an upset as MACGREGOR defeated world #2 MELDGAARD-PEDERSEN.
Ranking races lifted Julie BOSSARD (FRA), 'rookie' of the event after qualifying by winning the Spring Cup in Saint Quay, up into fifth position, just in front of HAHLBROCK.
The tension raised later in the afternoon with the following flights, in both grand and petit finals. With the petit-final poised at 1-1, MELDGAARD-PEDERSEN took the lead in the last race, but LE BERRE fought back and crossed the finishing line 50cm ahead of the Danish crew to win the bronze medal.
In the final, GURIOLI raced into an early 2-1 lead, putting her within one race victory of the title. Race four was a tense affair with the two Bénéteau Class 8 boats remaining side by side throughout, but MACGREGOR just holding the advantage to level the final at 2-2. In the final race decider, MACGREGOR succeeded in winning the start, and from there on did not relinquish her grip on GURIOLI. She crossed the line to take the race, the title and the Gyorgy Wossala perpetual trophy.
1. Lucy MACGREGOR (GBR)
2. Sabrina GURIOLI (ITA)
3. Anne-Claire LE BERRE (FRA)
4. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN)
5. Julie BOSSARD (FRA)
6. Silke HAHLBROCK (GER)
7. Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA)
8. Rita GONCALVES (POR)
9. Sandra AZON (ESP)
10. Maija SAIJONMAA (FIN)