World number two Anna Kjellberg and compatriot Caroline Sylvan celebrated the Swedish National Day in Cork, Ireland, by advancing to the semi-finals of the 2014 ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship, the first event of the 2014 Women’s International Match Racing Series (WIM Series).
Danish world number one Camilla Ulrikkeholm and Stephanie Roble of the USA joined the Swedes in the semis.
'We had a pretty crazy day,' the American sighed, referring to her five-match quarter final against Kiwi Claudia Pierce.
'We started strong and felt really powerful and under control in the first two matches. Then Pierce managed to break back when we were penalised in the start of the third match, followed by a fourth match where we found ourselves losing ground in every tack,' Roble said.
In the fifth USA – NZL race of the day, Roble and her crew pinpointed what went wrong and made a good team effort to secure their slot in the semis, 'We reset, and now we feel confident going into tomorrow,' concluded the American.
The big surprise of the day was probably young Swede Sylvan, defeating her far more experienced and higher ranked opponent, Meldgaard Pedersen of Denmark, who looked really strong in the round-robin stage.
After two initial quarterfinal wins the Swedish team approached the line too early in the start of the third match, turning back to restart thus leaving the course open for Meldgaard Pedersen. 'Somehow we managed to gain distance to get contact again, but then we were penalised. And when we tried to clear the penalty we were penalised again, so it was game over for us,' Sylvan explained.
In their fourth match the distance between the two Scandinavian rivals was never more than two boat lengths as the lead changed hand on a number of occasions. It wasn’t until the last half of the final downwind that Sylvan was able to stretch her lead through some great gybes, to be confirmed as a semi-finalist.
'We had such a flow on board, with extraordinary crew work and great spirit. We’ll keep that feeling for tomorrow’s semis,' Sylvan said.
After losing her two first races to Anne-Claire Le Berre of France, Sweden’s Kjellberg was forced to win three straight matches to stay alive. Helped by their private Swedish Fan Club, travelling from the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club to cheer their favourites, Kjellberg and Co fulfilled their challenging task.
'Even though we lost two matches I think we sailed five great races today, with small margins and tight situations in all of them,' Kjellberg smiled, back at the Royal Cork Yacht Club.
The fourth semifinalist in Cork is Ulrikkeholm who defeated Klaartje Zuiderbaan of The Netherlands in three straight quarterfinal matches.
'It wasn’t as easy as the figures may imply. Klaartje had great downwind speed today, but we managed to remain in control,' the smiling Dane commented.
As winner of the round-robin, Ulrikkeholm has the advantage of choosing her semi-final opponent, and will make her call on Saturday morning.
Results in the quarterfinals of the 2014 ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship, the first event on the 2014 Women’s International Match Racing Series (skipper name, nationality, wins/losses).
The winning skippers advance to the semis:
Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN, defeated Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED, 3 – 0
Caroline Sylvan, SWE, defeated Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, DEN, 3 – 1
Anna Kjellberg, SWE, defeated Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 3 – 2
Stephanie Roble, USA, defeated Claudia Pierce, NZL, 3 – 2 Event website