Professional women’s match racing lands in USA
Published on September 24th, 2014
Sheboygan, WI (September 24, 2014) – Morning fog delayed the start of the Buddy Melges Challenge for a while, but as the racing went on in Sheboygan, USA, Anne-Claire Le Berre of France showed her great light condition skills. After day 1 of the event she stays alone at the top, undefeated after flawless racing. “I think we had better speed than the other teams,” Le Berre comments.
Local hope Stephanie Roble sits on fourth with a 3 wins and 2 losses record, and is not too unhappy about that. “There’s lots of racing left, so no worries,” she says.
The Buddy Melges Challenge, the fourth and penultimate stage of the 2014 WIM Series, offered light winds from the south all Wednesday. The wind was as high as six knots and as low as zero, with just a hundred metres of visibility in a thick morning fog that forced the race management to postpone racing for a couple of hours. Right after noon the first flight went off, with Anne-Claire Le Berre immediately beginning her winning strike.
“Today we had a speed advantage that made us sail very well,” Le Berre explained. “It’s a lot easier to be clever on the water with decent speed. And getting away well in the starts let us chose the favourable side of the course” the French skipper explains her successful day on Lake Michigan, admitting that the race against local hero Stephanie Roble was a close one. We were over the starting line too early in that race, but had great speed and boat handling to make a close comeback” the American comments, calling the day ‘testing’. Yes, it was a tricky day. Lots of wind shifts and breaks due to lack of wind put our patience to test.”
Caroline Sylvan of Sweden on third place is even 3 – 2 with Roble, but compatriot Anna Kjellberg had a tough day fighting fever and chills. The Swedish reigning World Champion finished the day on fifth place after three losses and just two wins. Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen of Denmark sits on runner-up position, having lost only a close match against Stephanie Roble.
“We lead the race all the way to the final gybe on the last run, where I think Stephanie had a bit better control over her boat handling,” Meldgaard Pedersen observed. “The light conditions gave us time enough to think about our tactics and get the manoeuvres right today. It’s fantastic, like meeting an old friend! Before today I hadn’t sailed the Elliotts since our last resail match at the Olympics in London.”
The fog rolled in after the fourth flight again, but with the course moved a little closer to shore the fog cleared again after half an hour. Then the wind shifted right and filled back in to five knots. Two more flights were sailed before coming ashore for the debrief and Opening Reception. “Light unpredictable winds made the day challenging,” PRO Rich Reichelsdorfer concludes.
The Buddy Melges Challenge is planned to be sailed as a triple round-robin, followed by a repechage round on Saturday and then semi-finals and final on Sunday. Eight skippers were signed to participate, but Canadian Chantal Hearst dropped out late due to crew illness.
Standings in the round-robin of the 2014 Buddy Melges Challenge
(skipper name, nationality, wins/losses)
1. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 5 – 0
2. Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, DEN, 4 – 1
3. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 3 – 2
4. Stephanie Roble, USA, 3 – 2
5. Anna Kjellberg, SWE, 2 – 3
6. Juliana Senfft, BRA, 1 – 4
7. Madeline Gill, USA, 0 – 6
Report by event media.
Background: Buddy Melges Challenge (September 24-28) is the fourth stop on the five event Women’s International Match Racing Series, a professional sailing circuit, hosted by the Women’s International Match Racing Association for the world’s leading women match racing sailors.