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2017 Women's International Match Racing Series - Courtois and Le Berre lead Semi-Finals in Bédanne

by WIM Series 15 Dec 2017 18:36 PST 12-16 December 2017
A wild finish to the Queen of the Castle with Margot Riou (FRA) narrowly defeating Marinella Laaksonen (FIN). © Patrick Deroualle

Another day on Lake Bédanne and another nerve wracking adventure for the sailors with shifty winds, lead changes, and big puffs. The penultimate day of the 2017 International Bédanne's Cup, the final event of the 2017 Women's International Match Racing Series (WIM Series), brought some exciting matches for the spectators who braved the elements.

The morning started with the quarter-finals to see who would be joining the winner of the double round robin, local hero Pauline Courtois and her Match in Pink by Normandy Elite Team in the semi-finals. With light and shifty winds, the premium was on getting ahead and keeping your head out of the boat and playing the shifts. Anne-Claire Le Berre summed up her quarter-final matches with Linnéa Floser's Peregrine Racing team: "The lake is very shifty. In our matches with the Swedes we managed to win our starts and stay ahead by concentrating on looking for the shifts and sailing on the good side of the shifts. So, it was good and we won 3-0."

The other two quarter-finals followed the same pattern as American Allie Blecher's Team BAAM took care of Margot Riou's APCC Women's Sailing Team from Pornichet, France, 3-0 while local Team CVSAE with skipper Margot Vennin defeated the Finnish L2 Match Racing Team skippered by Marinella Laaksonen also with a score of 3-0.

With the quarter-finals complete, Courtois was given the task of choosing her opponent for the semi-finals. "The choice for the semi-finals was very difficult as all of the teams are very good. We chose the American team (Blecher) because we think that our boathandling is maybe a little better." Courtois explained her team's decision.

So the stage was set for the semi-finals, but first came the battle for the Queen of the Castle – places 5th to 9th in the final standings while the semi-finalists waited ashore. And the competition lived up to expectations with hard fought battles at each step, especially the last match.

Anne Malledant, Bédanne's Cup Principal Race Officer, had the best view of the Queen of the Castle finish: "I like the game of the Queen of the Castle because it can give the chance for some competitors to get a better ranking. The final of the Queen of the Castle today was totally amazing because they were very, very close and I was ready on the race committee boat with the yellow and blue flags and I didn't know until the very end who would win. They arrived to the finish in a big gust with luffing spinnakers and just two seconds before the finish Riou passed Laaksonen to take the win. It was great racing."

After the Queen of the Castle was finished, it was back to the business of the semi-finals. Two flights of the best of five semi-finals were sailed leaving the deciding matches for the final day in Bédanne.

First up was Le Berre versus Vennin and Le Berre gave away some of her team's semi-final strategy secrets: "Margot is a local team and they can be very good in sailing these boats because they very well know this lake and these boats. So, for us, the aim is to win the starts, with a penalty is better, and stay ahead after because she can sail faster than us."

Le Berre continued: "In the second match we had a very good fight with Margot. We leading the first downwind, but she got ahead of us on the run when she chose the better side. Just before the leeward mark we gybed and with a big luff we crossed behind her to take the left gate mark and we stayed ahead until the end of the match and go up 2-0."

Next up came Courtois versus Blecher. Courtois gave credit to her crew for the two wins over Blecher's team: "My crew did a great job with boat handling, especially on very fast spinnaker sets at the windward mark and very good roll gybes to keep us going very fast."

In addition to the final of the International Bédanne's Cup, the WIM Series Final podium will also be decided tomorrow. Pauline Courtois (FRA) has the opportunity to overtake Renée Groeneveld (NED) for the top place and put her name on the Terry J. Kohler Perpetual Trophy for the 2017 WIM Series Championship with a win in the semi-finals. If Courtois does not make the finals here, then Groeneveld will win the WIM Series Championship.

The International Bédanne's Cup in Tourville-la-Rivière, France, finishes with the completion of the semi-finals, finals, prize giving and closing ceremonies on Saturday.

Semi-final Results (after two flights of "first to 3 points" knock-out):

  • Anne-Claire Le Berre (FRA) leads Margot Vennin (FRA) 2-0
  • Pauline Courtois (FRA) leads Allie Blecher (USA) 2-0
Quarter-Final Results:
  • Allie Blecher (USA) defeats Margot Riou (FRA) 3-0
  • Margot Vennin (FRA) defeats Marinella Laaksonen (FIN) 3-0
  • Anne-Claire Le Berre (FRA) defeats Linnéa Floser (SWE) 3-0
Queen of the Castle Results:
  • 5th / 6th: Margot Riou (FRA) defeats Marinella Laaksonen (FIN) 1-0
  • 6th / 7th: Margot Riou (FRA) defeats Linnéa Floser (SWE) 1-0
  • 7th / 8th: Linnéa Floser (SWE) defeats Ekaterina Kochkina (RUS) 1-0
  • 8th / 9th: Ekaterina Kochkina (RUS) defeats Sanna Mattson (SWE) 2-1
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