by WIM Series
The Women’s Match Race Golfe du Morbihan, the second stage of the 2014 Women’s International Match Racing Series, started Wednesday with a practise session followed by the official opening ceremony in Vannes.
2014 Women's Match Race Golfe du Morbihan in Vannes
Camilla Ulrikkeholm came in late due to a delayed air flight, but managed to get an hour on the water with her team in a Beneteau 7.5: 'My first impression is that we will have to focus on speed if the light winds prevail when racing begins Thursday, because the boat has a rather small sail area compared to its size and weight,' Ulrikkeholm reflects.
The Danish world #1 leads one of a dozen teams from eight countries in the Women’s Match Race Golfe du Morbihan, where the Beneteau 7.5 makes its debut on the WIM Series. Ulrikkeholm also considers the asymmetrical spinnaker a game changer in match racing, compared to the more ordinary symmetrical one: 'It’ll be tougher to come from behind and roll your opponent on the downwinds, when the angles are so different' she said after the training.
The French event on the 2014 WIM Series was initiated and is organized by double World Champion and multiple world ranking number one Claire Leroy, who was happy to welcome so many young and upcoming sailors in Vannes: 'It’s really good to see that there is great regrowth in women’s match racing, it seems promising for the future' she said.
Skippers in Women’s Match Race Golfe du Morbihan, the second stage of the 2014 WIM Series (name/nationality/ISAF world ranking):
Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN, 1: Having three consecutive victories in the Lysekil Women’s Match in Sweden, 32 years old Camilla and her crew are the unquestionable queens of that event. Since 2003 this smiling Danish sailor has concentrated on match racing, but her career started in different dinghies. In 2013 and 2014 she finished runner-up in the World Championships, and last year she reached third place in the WIM Series. Camilla is an architect who loves liquorice but not swimming, and she’s currently the world #1.
Anna Kjellberg, SWE, 2: 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 five weeks after that she became the 2014 Women’s Match Racing World Champion. We will see Anna on most of the events.
Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 8: As 'everybody else' in Sweden, 25 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 in 2013 she finished sixth in the inaugural WIM Series season.
Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 9: 31 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 1 match racing events over the last years, but also a naval architect at FinotConq.
Claudia Pierce, NZL, 12: 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.
Sam Gilmour and his team - 2015 Stena Match Cup Sweden
Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED, 14: 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 London, 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.
Pauline Courtois, FRA, 30: 25-years old sport teacher Pauline Courtois from Brest started sailing at seven and racing at nine, and she has been in match racing on different positions since 2011. Last year she finished runner-up when calling the tactics for Julie Bossard in the WIM Series event in St Quay. 2013 she also finished third in the national championships. Her favourite boat is the RS 800, and for match racing the Elliott 6m, but she also likes sailing in J/80 and Beneteau Open 5.70. Pauline’s home club is USAM Brest.
Annabel Vose, GBR, 32: With just a year’s practise in match racing, 19-years old Annabel Vose wants to learn as much as possible from the world's best, and hopefully give them a run for their money… She is an experienced dinghy sailor and 420 World and European Champion, now on an Olympic Campaign in the 470 and studying Engineering at the University of her hometown Southampton. Annabel has also raced many different keelboats, becoming Quarter Ton Cup Champion in 2011 and in 2013. Older skippers better beware!
Morgane Fountaine, FRA, 37: Former 470-sailor Morgane Fountaine from La Rochelle in French Brittany has been into match racing since almost a decade now, with a bronze medal in the 2012 French Women’s Match Racing Championship as her greatest achievement so far. 29-years old Fountaine is racing for Société des Régates Rochelaises and has no special favourite boat, but loves the match racing concept where the boats change at each event. When not sailing she works as a project manager for the Francofolies music event.
Lucie Scheiwiller, FRA, 44: 25-years old Lucie Scheiwiller holds an engineering degree in agronomy, which has given her the opportunity to an internship at Prince de Bretagne, supporting the production of vegetables along the coast of Brittany. A successful career in the 420 has been followed in the past couple of years by match racing, with the J/80 as her favourite boat and Club de Voile de St Aubin les Elbeufs as her home club. Her goal for this season is to hit the top 30 on the ISAF World Ranking, where she in April is on spot 53.
Anastasia Guseva, RUS, 51: Saratov Sailing Club in the South West of Russia is where Anastasia Guseva has her base, working as one of the club coaches. Raised in dinghy classes and with a national junior title in 470, 22-years old Guseva started her match racing career in 2011. Her favourite boat is the Elliot 6M, but she is currently also racing in the 49er FX class. Anastasia has a higher education in world economy and international trade, but her great love is sailing. This year she’s aiming to become the Russian Match Racing Champion.
Rajaa Al Owaisi, OMA, 154: The growing interest in women match racing has reached the Arabian Peninsula and the sultanate of Oman, where 22-years old Rajaa Al Owaisi and her mixed British-Omani crew has taken on the challenge to participate on the WIM Series. Al Owaisi is a full time sailor who has gained experience from racing in Farr 30, J/80, J/24 and Laser. She helmed a boat in the Sailing Arabia The Tour, and has recently done a couple of match racing events in Bahrain, as well as the Spi Ouest in France. She loves the competition.