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Busan Cup Women’s Match Race – Thrilling final

by WIM Series on 2 Nov 2015
Above: Aimee Famularo, Genny Tulloch, Maggie Shea, Meg Six and Janel Zarkowsky of Epic Racing, USA, secured the 2015 WIM Series title by finishing fifth in the concluding Korean event. Below: Anne-Claire Le Berre, Mathilde Geron, Julie Gericht, Sigrid Longeau and Morgane Gautier won the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race, and finished third in the 2015 WIM Series. Kim Wolf/WIM Series
Anne-Claire Le Berre won the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race final 3 – 2, after marvellous match racing fights against Katie Spithill. As WIM Series title holder Camilla Ulrikkeholm finished third in Busan, the Epic Racing team, with Maggie Shea substituting in Korea for regular skipper Stephanie Roble, takes the 2015 WIM Series and the coveted Terry J. Kohler Perpetual Trophy.

“I’m so excited to see our team at the top! We’ve worked three years for this title and finally this year everything just came together” an overwhelmed Roble comments.

“We’ve improved a lot over the season, and I’m very happy and satisfied that we can crown the 2015 WIM Series with a victory here in Korea” smiles Le Berre, finishing third in the Series.

Sunday’s exciting conclusion of the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race, the fourth and final event of the 2015 WIM Series, was nothing but an amazing denouement to the whole Series too. When seeing the light wind predictions for Sunday, Regatta Director Alfredo Ricci at the morning briefing announced the decision to cut the semis from 'first to three' to 'first to two' wins. As the wind in front of Haeundae Beach unfortunately was too light and unstable, the racecourse also had to be moved over to the Gwangan Bridge, where eight to 10 knots of quite steady wind offered excellent conditions.

Australian Katie Spithill defeated world number one Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby 2 – 0 after intense racing in their semi final.

“I got too greedy and wanted to close Katie out at the last prestart, but instead she could luff us over the line a few seconds too early” Ulrikkeholm Klinkby analyses her second semi race.

In the other semi world number four Anne-Claire Le Berre faced Renée Groeneveld of The Netherlands in tight and exciting matches, securing the same result in French favour.

“We had two good races against the Dutch, happy to get really warm and learn a lot about the conditions before the final matches” says Le Berre.

Not reaching the final meant that the Danish team could no longer aspire on defending their WIM Series title from 2014.

“Instead we had to get ourselves together. At least we wanted to secure the runner-up position in the Series. We tried to focus on old-school match racing, and got two good races for third place in the event, in more steady breeze than the other days” Ulrikkeholm Klinkby explains.

The Danish strategy worked well as they defeated Renée Groeneveld 2 – 0 in the petite final, finishing third in the event to secure second place in the 2015 WIM Series and 12 000 USD of the prize pool.

The first thrilling match of the Busan final went to Anne-Claire Le Berre, but then the Aussies broke back. In the last downwind of the second race, Spithill and Co came with pressure from behind, sailing around the French boat to finish first.

“We were six boat lengths ahead, but they got a puff that never reached us” Le Berre sighs.

The Race Committee now found more stable wind just off of the Haeundae Beach, and moved the course there for the third start. Once again the French boat had a good lead, but lost a crewmember over board in a gybe, and were defeated.

With Spithill on 2 – 1, Le Berre was forced to win two straight matches. She took the first one, and when the Australian was over the starting line too early and had to head back in the last final race, the French team “just” had to cover and extend their lead throughout the race.

“We had a very fun final and my crew did an amazing job out there. It helps a lot when we can sail faster and with the right tactics” Le Berre points out.

“We possibly could have nailed the starts a bit better, and also taken better decisions regarding the shifts, but considering we haven’t practised a lot we shouldn’t expect to win” Spithill admits, showing interest in doing a more ambitious campaign next year.

“Yes, this result makes you think of doing the whole Series next year, but it’s harder with all the travelling from our part of the world.”

Maggie Shea, substituting in Korea for Stephanie Roble, who already had an appointment in Hong Kong to defend her Etchells World Title from last year, was nervously following Sunday’s suspenseful racing on shore. As the Americans could see the Danes lose their semi final, they knew that Epic Racing were the new WIM Series Champions.

“It wasn’t in our hands so of course we were anxious. We’re really impressed on how the other teams concluded the Busan event. We really miss Steph here, but we’re happy to accept the title on her behalf” a relieved Shea says, sending her congratulations to the other teams for their efforts.

As WIM Series Champions Stephanie Roble, Maggie Shea, Genny Tulloch, Aimee Famularo, Meg Six, Janel Zarkowsky, Sally Barkow, Jamie Haines and Liz Shaw of the 2015 Epic Racing team receives the Terry J Kohler Perpetual Trophy, named after US businessman Terry Kohler, a long-time proponent and supporter of women's match racing.

“I cannot praise my team enough for all of their hard work on and off the water. They are truly amazing teammates and I'm so lucky to have them. Their performance in Korea this week shows that it takes the whole team's effort to be at the top” Roble praises.

The Terms of Series stipulates that the original skipper must be present at the last event to qualify for the Series Prize Money Pool. As a result Epic Racing wins the title but does not receive the prize money. The 20 000 USD that should have been awarded to the 2015 WIM Series Champion, will roll over to the 2016 WIM Series Prize Pool.

“We’re disappointed not to receive the overall prize money, but as a professional sailor I already had another commitment. I’m happy my teammates supported this and still fought hard to win. However, a title is still a title, and we are the WIM Series champions. Things are shaping up well for our team!” Roble comments.

The 2015 WIM Series consisted of four events, all with different winners over the season. Lotte Meldgaard, nominated 2015 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, secured the World Championship title at the first event on her Danish home waters of Middelfart. World number one Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby won her fifth consecutive Lysekil Women’s Match in Sweden. This season’s supreme skipper Stephanie Roble took her first WIM Series event victory on her home waters of Lake Michigan, Sheboygan, USA. Now French Champion Anne-Claire Le Berre crowns the season with her first ever WIM Series event triumph here in Korea. And all the WIM Series podium places are within an amazing range of just four points!

“We’re happy to look back at the third successful WIM Series season, and we’re equally excited to welcome the world’s foremost women match racing sailors back for the 2016 season” Liz Baylis concludes.

Results in the final of the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race, the fourth and final event of the 2015 WIM Series:
Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA – Katie Spithill, AUS, 3 – 2

Results in the petite final:
Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby, DEN – Renée Groeneveld, NED, 2 – 0

Semi final results:
Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA – Renée Groeneveld, NED, 2 – 0
Katie Spithill, AUS – Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby, DEN, 2 – 0

Total results in the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race (skipper, nationality, WIM Series points, prize money):
1. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 25, 20 000 USD
2. Katie Spithill, AUS, 22, 15 000 USD
3. Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby, DEN, 20, 12 000 USD
4. Renée Groeneveld, NED, 16, 10 000 USD
5. Maggie Shea (substituting for Stephanie Roble), USA, 15, 9 000 USD
6. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 14, 8 000 USD
7. Anna Östling, SWE, 13, 7 000 USD
8. Denise Lim, SIN, 12, 6 000 USD
9. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 10, 5 000 USD
10. Milly Bennett, AUS, 8, 4 000 USD
11. Diana Kissane, IRL, 6, 2 000 USD
12. Sung Eun Choi, KOR, 4, 2 000 USD

Total results in the 2015 WIM Series (skipper, nationality, WIM Series points, prize money):
1. Stephanie Roble/Maggie Shea, USA, 82, 0 USD
2. Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby, DEN, 80, 12 000 USD
3. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 78, 8 000 USD
4. Anna Östling, SWE, 68
5. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 55
6. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 40
7. Katie Spithill, AUS, 36
8. Renée Groeneveld, NED, 32
9. Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED, 26
10. Lotte Meldgaard, DEN, 25
11. Juliana Senfft, BRA, 21
12. Milly Bennett, AUS, 18
13. Diana Kissane, IRL, 18
14. Johanna Bergqvist, SWE, 14
15. Alexa Bezel, SUI, 13
16. Denise Lim, SIN, 12
17. Annabel Vose, GBR, 10
18. Louise Christensen, DEN, 6
19. Sung Eun Choi, KOR, 4
20. Morgan Wilson, USA, 4
21. Sanna Häger, SWE, 4
22. Rikst Dijkstra, NED, 0
22. Johanna Larsson, SWE, 0
22. Nina Ramm-Schmidt, FIN, 0
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