Great Britain will launch a double assault on the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship title this week as top duo Josie Gibson and Gemma Farrell head the duel charge in New Zealand.
Reigning World champion, and 2008 RYA Women’s Winter Challenge Series winner, Claire Leroy is gunning to defend her title on the waters of Waitemata Harbour near Auckland between Wednesday 2 and Sunday 6 April.
But the Brit pair, who finished fourth and 11th respectively at last year’s Worlds at St Quay Portrieux, France in August, will be looking to mount a serious challenge on the podium places Down Under.
Fourteen skippers, racing in teams of four on Elliott 6m yachts, will go head to head for the 2008 crown, with no fewer than seven of those skippers recently competing at in the RYA Women’s Winter Challenge final.
Bethan Carden, a member of the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme, is doing the bow for Programme mentor Farrell in what will be her first Match Racing World Championships.
The 27-year-old from Lymington said: 'It means a great deal to be involved in this event. I was heavily involved in the RYA Youth Programme in 420s but after that found it hard to continue sailing at a high-level without doing an Olympic campaign. It is really nice to get back to serious competition.
'We are hoping for a decent result but we know we are facing really, really tough competition and we’re aware we’re still pretty early on in our match racing careers so we will be looking to learn as much as we can from other people.'
As well as Leroy looking to defend her crown, the line-up in New Zealand also includes 2007 RYA Women’s Winter Challenge champion Silja Lehtinen (FIN) and world number two Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen (DEN). In total, six of the World’s top 10 ranked women will be on the start line. 2008 ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship entries:
1. Claire LEROY (FRA)
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)