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Breault 4-Peats USA Women's J/22 Match Race Championship Finals at San Diego Yacht Club

by J/Boats 31 Aug 2021 02:29 PDT August 20-22, 2021
Bridget Groble, Morgan Collins, Rachel Perry, and Aisling Sullivan at the 2021 U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship. © Mark Albertazzi

The stage was set for a Super Sunday showdown in the Finals at the 2021 U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship, hosted by the San Diego Yacht Club.

Nicole Breault and the team representing the St. Francis Yacht Club, including Molly Carapiet, Karen Loutzenheiser, and Julie Mitchell won Sunday's Finals match-up against Janel Zarkowsky and the Scuttlebutt Sailing Club team featuring Annabelle Ayer, Madeline Gill, and Rose Edwards. Breault's team won 3-0 capping an undefeated regatta. Zarkowsky had leads in Races 2 and 3 of the Finals. However, they were carrying penalties in both races that they could not overcome in the end.

The win for Breault marks her fourth career win at the U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship. The four-time champion skipper earned this title in 2018, 2016, and 2015. Carapiet and Loutzenheiser sailed with Breault in all four championship runs.

Breault and her team was perfect in the Round Robin stage that took place on Friday and wrapped up on Saturday. They won all nine matches and entered the Knock-out stage as the number one seed. The team went on to defeat Marilyn Cassedy (California Yacht Club), 2-0, in the Quarterfinals. They followed that winning performance with another 2-0 win in the Semifinals over Bridget Groble (Chicago Yacht Club) to advance to Sunday's Finals.

"Our teamwork sailing the J/22s has been refined over the years," said Breault. "We were solid and could get our heads out of the boat to account for a lot of the fleet racing factors that happen in match racing. Transitioning from light to windier conditions and reacting to pressure was the key to speed."

"I love match racing because it's all or nothing," she added. "You feel the thrill of victory and agony of defeat. It's so intense and being able to pull together as a team is a great experience."

Zarkowsky entered the Knock-out stage as the number two seed after going 8-1 in the Round Robin stage. Their only defeat was to Breault. They defeated Marbella Marlow (Newport Harbor Yacht Club), 2-0, in the Quarterfinals. They went on to edge 2019 Champion Allie Blecher (California Yacht Club), 2-1, in the Semifinals to advance to the Finals for a rematch with Breault.

"It was really challenging today with the best pressure on the left and a big right shift," said Zarkowsky. We had to decide which one was worth it on the bottom half of the course. So, the crew would make the call, and ultimately the right side was getting us back into races."

"I love match racing because it is so intense, so precise, and so fun," she added. "It's so rewarding, and we keep coming back for more."

By winning this event, Breault receives an automatic invitation to compete at the 2021 U.S. Match Racing Championship, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club on October 1-3, 2021.

Groble defeated Blecher in a closely contested Petit Finals this afternoon, 2-1, to take third place honors. Groble won the last two races of the series after Blecher won the first race. Blecher had defeated Groble in their Round Robin match.

The event was sailed in the J/22 and the racing was conducted right off the San Diego city front in San Diego Bay near the Grape Street pier.

Saturday's racing conditions included shifty winds that led to 11 course re-sets by the Race Committee, both before the start and during the races. Teams completed seven Round Robin races on Friday and the final two races of that round on Saturday. The breeze was steady on Friday with a wind velocity low of 6 knots and a high of 11.

A coaching clinic on Thursday, August 19 was conducted by professional sailor and coach Steve Hunt, courtesy of the David Storrs Match Racing Committee fund.

About the U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship

The U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship developed from the U.S. Women's Open Championship regatta that was founded in 1974 for fleet racing in doublehanded and singlehanded divisions. In 2000, a motion to change the event from fleet racing to match racing was passed and the first U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship was held at Southern Yacht Club in November 2002.

The Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy is presented to the winner in honor of Allegra Knapp Mertz, a four-time winner of the U.S. Women's National Championship and many years of service as Chairperson of the Women's Championship Committee. The Adams Memorial Trophy is presented to the runner-up in honor of Mrs. Henry (Adams) Morgan.

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