When the Lysekil Women’s Match begins Tuesday, the event will be celebrating its tenth anniversary with a very competitive field of nine crews of six sailors each. Will Danish world number one Camilla Ulrikkeholm take her fourth consecutive victory in the beautiful Swedish West Coast archipelago? Can World Champion Anna Kjellberg get her first triumph on her home waters? Or is it maybe American Stephanie Roble’s turn to win this third stage of the 2014 WIM Series?
The competition will be really tough, with seven of the eight first teams from the latest World Championship present in Lysekil: 'Every year I’ve thought that we’ve had the most competitive starting field ever, but now when we’re celebrating ten years, I get a feeling that the competition is tougher than ever' says Lysekil Women’s Match initiator and Project Manager Anna Holmdahl White.
The 2014 WIM Series kicked off in Cork, Ireland, beginning of June, where Anna Kjellberg secured a very longed for Swedish gold medal by defeating Camilla Ulrikkeholm in the final. In the Women’s Match Race Golfe du Morbihan in Vannes, France, just a week ago, the Danish world number one got her revenge, and won the event before Klaartje Zuiderbaan of the Netherlands. Anna Kjellberg finished fourth, when local hero Anne-Claire Le Berre defeated her in the petit final.
When Lysekil Women’s Match starts Tuesday with the first of two round robins, Ulrikkeholm holds the top spot on the WIM Series scoreboard, six points ahead of Kjellberg. Both are really keen on winning the Swedish event, but only Ulrikkeholm has no less than three consecutive victories to lean on: 'If we can make it also this year, we would’ve won half of the Lysekil events we’ve participated in. I would consider that a great achievement' she smiles.
Team Ulrikkeholm is sailing for the Royal Danish Yacht Club in Skovshoved, situated just a few kilometres north of the Danish capital Copenhagen. The DS 37 boats, raced there as well as in Lysekil, is a major part of the explanation to their success in the Lysekil Women’s Match: 'The DS 37 is unquestionably our very favourite among the many boats used on the WIM Series. I know no other boat that demands as much strength and raw power from the crew, combined with a proven ability to manage different manoeuvres and situations' she praises her darling boat.
And it’s not only in heavy winds the DS 37 puts the sailors to the test. Light conditions are just as challenging for the crews, as the boats then demand exactly the right trim, touch and moves to perform their best. And this is where the Danish team has shown their skills: 'My confidence in the crew work is a hundred percent, and when that works I get more room for the tactical parts of the game, in the pre-starts as well as out there on the course' she states.
When the Lysekil Women’s Match concludes on Saturday, local hope Anna Kjellberg also wants to be one of the two final skippers: 'To race on our home waters is the pinnacle of the year' she says, explaining why: 'It’s an absolutely marvellous atmosphere, with all the crowds supporting us, and our families in place as well. Altogether it gives us a really pleasant feeling.
'And then we of course like racing in the DS-boats very much' she adds, declaring her team’s ambition for the week: 'We’ve never won the Lysekil Women’s Match, and we’re determined to make sure there will be no fourth victory for Ulrikkeholm, at least not this year'.
But American world number three Stephanie Roble, Danish world number five Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, Kiwi Claudia Pierce and Kjellberg’s club mates from the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club, Caroline Sylvan and Linda Rahm, also aspire on the top of the podium. Rahm has already won this event twice, is currently unranked but is now doing a comeback after a couple of years absence from the match racing circuit: 'Let’s see how quick we can get a winning team together,' she comments. Skippers in the Lysekil Women’s Match, stage 3 of the WIM Series:
Camilla Ulrikkeholm - WIMRS Media
Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN - Having three consecutive victories in Lysekil, 31 years old titleholder Camilla and her crew are the unquestionable queens of the event. Since 2003 this smiling Danish sailor has concentrated on match racing, keeping her ranking as one of the world’s best, but her career started in different dinghies. Camilla’s speciality is the big DS-boats that are raced in Lysekil, as well as in the training centre of her home club KDY in Skovshoved. Camilla is an architect who loves liquorice but doesn’t want to go swimming in the sea.
Anna Kjellberg, SWE - She started as a match racing sailor on foredeck, but in former America’s Cup challenger Magnus Holmberg’s Sailing Factory, now 30 years old Anna Kjellberg of the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club found her interest in helming rise. After her Olympic debut in London, she finished runner-up in the 2013 inaugural WIM Series season. This spring Anna became a mother for the first time, and just a few weeks later she became the 2014 Women’s Match Racing World Champion. Anna will sail all the WIM Series events 2014.
Stephanie Roble, USA - 24 years old Stephanie Roble started sailing dinghies and scows out of Lake Beulah YC, where she was a successful junior sailor. Later she picked up match racing and fell in love with the fast paced game. Together with fellow team member Maggie Shea she campaigned for women’s Olympic match racing, and qualified as one of the top four for the final stage of the US trials. In the fall of 2012, Stephanie and Maggie became the first women to win both the US Women’s and the Open Match Racing Championships.
Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, DEN - With 20 years of match racing in approximately 40 different boats, some silver and bronze medals in World Championships, as well as gold in the Europeans, Lotte is one of the most experienced sailors on the WIM Series. The four years in advance of the London 2012 Olympics, she focused on that campaign, leading to a 10th place in the tough Olympic fleet. Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen is working as a Coastal and Ocean Engineer, doing most of her sailing practise and training at the Royal Danish Yacht Club.
Caroline Sylvan, SWE - As 'everybody else' in Sweden, 24 years old Caroline Sylvan began her sailing career in the Optimist and Europe dinghies, participating in Nordic and European as well as World Championships. After twice becoming national champion in Laser Radial, she began match racing in 2010 and immediately won the Youth National Championships. In 2012 Caroline took the bronze medal in the European Match Racing Championships, and together with her New Sweden Match Racing Team she wants to advance on the ranking.
Claudia Pierce, NZL - Claudia Pierce is 21 years old and in her fifth year of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Youth Training Programme. She was trimmer in the runner up crew for the national Match Racing selection for the 2012 Olympics, and then made the move to helming. Claudia has also done snowboarding and hockey. Last season she raced all but one event on the Women’s International Match Racing Series, finishing on seventh place overall. In the 2014 New Zealand Women Match Racing Championship she finished second.
Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA - 32 years old Anne-Claire Le Berre from Brest on the Atlantic coast of France came back to the match racing circuit last year after a maternity leave, immediately becoming National Champion in her home waters. Since 2005 she has been into match racing, ranked number five in the world as best, and before that she did an Olympic campaign in the Yngling. Anne-Claire is not only a skilled sailor, with victories in several grade one match racing events over the last years, but also a naval architect at FinotConq.
Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED - Dutch veteran match racer Klaartje Zuiderbaan, 41, is an engineer who became the European Champion in 2000. In 2006 she was ranked second in the world, and two years later she scored her last victory, winning the Grade 1 match racing event in Trentino, Italy. After coaching the Dutch Sonar to a gold medal in the Paralympics in Weymouth, she came back to match racing and finished 10th in the WIM Series inaugural season. Klaartje also sailed the Volvo Ocean Race on Amer Sports Too in 2001-02.
Linda Rahm, SWE - In 2007 and 2008 Linda Rahm won the Lysekil Women’s Match, after finishing on third and fourth place the years before. In 2006 she took the bronze medal at the Women’s Match Racing World Championship. Racing for the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club she was as best ranked runner-up in the world, and was in 2007 crowned Women Sailor of the Year in Sweden. With neither races nor ranking points in the last few years, Linda is now coming back to Lysekil Women’s Match with a partly new team. Standings in the WIM Series after two stages of five (skipper name, country, WIM Series points):
1. Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN, 47
2. Anna Kjellberg, SWE, 41
3. Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED, 36
4. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 35
5. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 29
6. Annabel Vose, GBR, 25
7. Claudia Pierce, NZL, 24
8. Stephanie Roble, USA, 20
9. Morgane Fountaine, FRA, 14
10. Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, DEN, 13
11. Lucie Scheiwiller, FRA, 12
12. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 10
13. Mary O’Loughlin, IRL, 8
14. Rajaa Al Owaisi, OMA, 6
15. Laura Dillon, IRL, 6
16. Anastasia Guseva, RUS, 4
17. Anne-Christianne Kentgens, NED, 0 WIM Series website