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Southern Spars

Ready for ISAF Women's World Match Racing Champs

by Zoe Hawkins amended by ISAF on 1 Apr 2008
Australia’s Katie Spithill (Wotif.com) vs the world number one, France’s Claire Leroy (Thai Airways). © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/

The very best in women's match racing are poised and ready for the BSPORT ISAF Women's World Match Racing Championships to commence in Auckland this Wednesday 2 April.

Gathering at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron are the queens of match racing, including six of the top ten ranked skippers in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings and their crew-mates. These are: world #1 and reigning World Champion Claire LEROY of France, who was also named the 2007 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year; world #2 Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN from Denmark; world #3 Australian Katie SPITHILL; world #4 Christelle PHILIPPE, also of France; Silke HAHLBROCK of Germany, who is one of the youngest competitors, and holds the world #6 ranking; and Liz BAYLIS from San Francisco, USA, the world #10.

Other competitors are two Brits, Josie GIBSON and Gemma FARRELL, Yngling sailor Silja LEHTINEN from Finland, Sabrina GURIOLI of Italy, Camilla ULRIKKEHOLM of Denmark and Nicky SOUTER from Australia. Two New Zealand entries make up the balance of the fleet: Jessica SMYTH and Jan DAWSON.

Most entrants have spent time in New Zealand and Australia in the lead up to racing, acclimatizing and getting to know the Elliot 6 boats they will be competing in. Boat handling is something the top ranked New Zealand sailors – who compete and train regularly in the dinghy-like Elliott 6s – will be hoping to use to their advantage.

'They are very different boats to what the Europeans normally sail, faster and with more control changes,' says Kiwi SMYTH.

At 24, New Zealander SMYTH – who celebrated her birthday on Sunday – is the one of the youngest entrants, and both she and DAWSON will represent the host club, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

The final player in the cast of characters is Auckland’s weather. It might be raining now but late summer conditions are forecast to return to Auckland sometime during the first day’s racing with the week providing a mix of light to heavy sailing.

The ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship is organized by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in co-operation with ISAF and sponsored by BSPORT, Giltrap City Toyota and Auckland City Council. Racing in the takes place from 2-6 April, starting at approximately 10:00 each day on the inner Waitemata Harbour.

ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship Line Up

1. Claire LEROY (FRA), defending champion
2. Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN (DEN)
3. Katie SPITHILL (AUS)
4. Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA)
5. Silke HAHLBROCK (GER)
6. Liz BAYLIS (USA)
7. Josie GIBSON (GBR)
8. Gemma FARRELL (GBR)
9. Silja LEHTINEN (FIN)
10. Sabrina GURIOLI (ITA)
11. Camilla ULRIKKEHOLM (DEN)
12. Jan DAWSON (NZL)
13. Jessica SMYTH (NZL)
14. Nicky SOUTER (AUS)

Find out more on the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship at www.sailing.org/wmatchworlds.
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