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Best women match racers to set sail in the St. Thomas - WIM Series 2018 Finale

by WIM Series 8 Nov 06:04 PST 29 November - 2 December 2018
Match racing in IC24s in St. Thomas' Charlotte Amalie harbor during the WIM Series finale at the 2016 CAMR © Dean Barnes

Twelve of the world's best women match racers will compete in the Carlos Aguilar Match Race (CAMR), presented by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, on November 29-December 2.

Following a hiatus in 2017 after major hurricanes damaged the island, the CAMR is back and once again hosting the fifth and final event of the 2018 Women's International Match Racing Series (WIM Series). It's a perfect scenario: world-class sailors competing in St. Thomas' Charlotte Amalie harbor, one of the world's best sailing destinations.

"The Virgin Islands Sailing Association is both proud and pleased to host the final event for the Women's International Match Racing Association again this year," says Bill Canfield, regatta co-director with Verian Aguilar.

"We as organizers have enjoyed watching the world's best female sailors perform and are happy to offer our wonderful sailing environment. We believe our event gives the sailors great conditions for sailing and a wonderful environment to relax a bit and enjoy our islands after racing. To our competitors we say, 'Welcome back! We hope you love it here as much as we do."

One of three teams representing France at the WIM Series finale at the CAMR is Match in Pink by Normandy Elite led by skipper Pauline Courtois. Courtois and her crew sailed in the 2016 CAMR, won the 2017 WIM Series and are leading this year's Series going into the Virgin Islands event.

"It's a wonderful place to sail in awesome conditions," Courtois says, of her anticipation at racing in St. Thomas again. "We received a very friendly and warm welcome two years ago and are very excited to visit and sail again."

Also returning is Sweden's Johanna Bergqvist and her Team Bergqvist Match Racing.

"We loved everything about our trip to St. Thomas two years ago, from the beautiful island to the boats and people and are preparing for an amazing week in nice weather," says Bergqvist. "We have climbed the rankings a lot this year and are looking forward to close out this year's final event with a bang."

The remaining ten skippers competing with their teams in the WIM Series finale at the CAMR are: 2016 CAMR defending champion, Renee Groeneveld, from the Netherlands; France's Margot Vennin and Margot Riou; Sweden's Anna Östling, Linnea Floser, Sanna Mattsson and Helena Nielsen; Great Britain's Octavia Owen; and the USA's Morgan Collins and Janel Zarkowsky.

Match racing is sailed in two identical boats around a short course, providing fast action close to the crowds on shore. The intense racing is just as exciting for the spectators as it is strategically, tactically and physically challenging for the competing crews.

The CAMR is a World Sailing (WS)-provisional Grade One event. The format will feature a full round robin of all teams followed by knockout quarterfinals for the top 8, then knockout semi-finals, petit-finals and finals. The event will be sailed in IC24, a modification of J/24.

Namesake for the late Carlos Aguilar, who was an avid Virgin Islands' sailor, the CAMR has traditionally featured highly ranked men's and women's match racing teams. Past winners of the Open Division in the CAMR reads like a Who's Who of sailing: the USVI's Taylor Canfield (2008, 2015), USVI's Peter Holmberg (2009), Portugal's Alvaro Marinho/Seth Sailing Team (2010), USA's Sally Barkow (2011), Finland's Staffan Lindberg (2012) and the USA's Don Wilson (2013). Women's Division winners are just as renowned: the USA's Genny Tulloch triumphed in 2008 and 2010 and France's Claire Leroy in 2009. In 2016, the first year the CAMR hosted the WIM Series, Groeneveld and her Dutch team won. The Virgin Islands Sailing Association (VISA) and St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) are the organizing authorities for the CAMR. Sponsors for the regatta include the US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism.

The WIM Series is the first and only professional sailing series for women, hosted by the Women's International Match Racing Association and joined by the world's leading women match racing sailors. The 2018 WIM Series also included the Helsinki Women's Match in Finland, June 25-29; the Lysekil Women's Match in Sweden, August 6-11, the Women's Match Racing World Championships in Ekaterinburg, Russia, August 13-18; and Swiss International Women's Match, in Ascona, Switzerland, October 30-November 3.

"The WIM Series is very excited to be coming back to St. Thomas after a one-year hiatus due to the hurricanes," says Liz Baylis, series manager and executive director of the Women's International Match Racing Association. "From the racing side, we know it will be a very competitive and well-run event as is the standard with past events in St. Thomas. But on a more personal level, we can't wait to get back and see our friends and offer any support we can helping bring back a semblance of normal after last year's devastating storms."

The CAMR is known internationally for introducing young sailors to the sport, working cooperatively with the V.I. government and V.I. Department of Tourism in its efforts to get more of the island's youth out on the water. As such the event hosts the CAMR Youth Regatta each year.

The 2018 CAMR is sponsored by the V.I. Department of Tourism, St. Thomas Sailing Center, Virgin Islands Sailing Association, St. Thomas Yacht Club, IGY's Yacht Haven Grande and Bellows International.

WIM Series standings ahead of the final event: (Team, skipper, nationality, points)

1. Match in Pink by Normandy Elite Team, Pauline Courtois - FRA, 87
2. Team Kattnakken, Trine Palludan / Henriette Koch - DEN, 85
3. L2 Match Racing Team, Marinella Laaksonen - FIN, 56
4. Swiss Women Match Racing Team, Alexa Bezel - SUI, 46
5. Mermaid Sailing Team / New Sweden Match Racing Team, Claire Leroy - FRA, 41
6. Team Bergqvist Match Racing, Johanna Bergqvist - SWE, 40
7. Matchmoiselles by Normandy Elite Team, Margot Vennin - FRA, 33
8. Team Mac, Lucy Macgregor - GBR, 25
9. ProKaTeam Sailing Team, Ekaterina Kochkina - RUS, 24
10. Team Sköna Vibbisar, Antonia Degerlund - FIN, 24
11. ChicaCER, Laurane Mettraux - SUI, 22
12. APCC Women Sailing Team, Margot Riou - FRA, 21
13. Team Anna, Anna Östling - SWE, 20
14. Team BAAM!, Allie Blecher - USA, 16
15. Swedish Women's Match Racing Team, Sanna Mattsson - SWE, 16
16. Stockholm Match Racing Team, Sanna Häger - SWE, 15
17. Women On Water, Henriette Koch - DEN, 14
18. Peregrine Racing, Linnea Floser / Hanna Ericksson - SWE, 13
19. BERGAUF Sailing Team, Milena Laverycheva - RUS, 12
20. NZ Match, Celia Willison - NZL, 12
21. Athena Racing, Octavia Owen - GBR, 11
22. BornToSail, Alexandra Martynova - RUS, 10
23. Team Skogman, Jassi Skogman - FIN, 8
24. Dutch Match Racing Team, Renée Groeneveld - NED, 0
24. Team Nielsen, Helena Nielsen - SWE, 0
24. As One, Janel Zarkowsky - USA, 0
24. Caribbean Wind Racing, Morgan Collins - USA, 0

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