The inaugural Women's International Match Racing Series season commences tomorrow with an international mix of newcomers and veterans taking part the first event in St Quay-Portrieux, France. Sailing the former Olympic class Elliott 6m, ten crews from eight countries will fight hard to reach the podium on Sunday.
Women's International Match Racing Association logo wimra logo
One of the skippers is Dutch veteran Klaartje Zuiderbaan, currently only ranked 149 on the ISAF world ranking. But in 2006 she was second best in the world, and two years later she scored her last victory winning the Grade 1 match racing event in Trentino, Italy:
'Since then I haven't done a lot of match racing, so it's great fun to be back in this atmosphere again,' Klaartje Zuiderbaan smiles - clarifying how she has spent the last few years.
'Well, I've been coaching the Dutch Sonar with Udo Hessels at the helm to a gold medal in the Paralympics in London,' she explains.
The youngest crew of the St Quay event, comprising only teenage girls, has travelled to France all the way from Australia, led by talented skipper Milly Bennett. At the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Sydney she began her match racing career only two years ago, with experienced Tommy Spithill (younger brother of America's Cup helmsman James Spithill) as her coach:
'We're here in St Quay to win as many matches as we can, gaining racing experience for the future,' Milly Bennett declares.
Also coming a long way to France is Kiwi Claudia Pierce, who is always match racing against male crews at her home club, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron:
'This is our first regatta in Europe and our first event with only women crews participating. We really don't know what to expect, but we're excited to be here,' Claudia Pierce comments.
Present in Saint Quay is WIMRA Executive Director Liz Baylis, invited by the local yacht club Sport Nautique de Saint Quay-Portrieux:
'I'm really happy to be here to follow the races of the first event of the Women's International Match Racing Series. The Weymouth Olympics highlighted the spectacular nature of match racing and the WIMR Series is going to take that to new heights. With events in France, Korea, Denmark, the United States and Sweden, spectators will be able to experience in person the excitement of the top women sailors duelling on the water.
Skippers participating in Saint Quay Women's Match Racing, the first event of the inaugural 2013 Women's Match Racing Series, are
(ISAF ranking, name, country):
5. Lucy Macgregor, GBR
8. Julie Bossard, FRA
12. Alexa Bezel, SUI
20. Caroline Sylvan, SWE
21. Anna Kjellberg, SWE
25. Claudia Pierce, NZL
35. Stephanie Roble, USA
48. Milly Bennett, AUS
149. Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED
Unranked. Morgane Dreau, FRA
The inaugural 2013 Women's International Match Racing Series is a professional sailing circuit, hosted by the Women's International Match Racing Association for the world's leading women match racing sailors. In match racing the crews meet two by two in exciting duels that can easily be followed and understood by the spectators.
An overall prize purse of 50 000 USD will be distributed by the WIMR Series at the final event in Lysekil, Sweden, in addition to the prize money at each of the five events included in the WIMR Series .
* May 15-19 - Saint Quay Women's Match Racing - St Quay-Portrieux, France - Elliott 6m
* June 6-9 - Busan Cup International Women's Match Race - Busan, Korea - K 30
* June 20-23 - Danish Open Ladies Cup - Copenhagen, Denmark - J/80
* July 11-14 - New York Women's Invitational - Oakcliff, New York, USA - SM 40
* August 5-10 - Lysekil Women's Match - Lysekil, Sweden - DS 37
WIMR Series website