Swedes Win Women’s Match Racing Worlds

Published on September 25th, 2016

Sheboygan, WI (September 25, 2016) – Anna Östling with crew Annie and Linnea Wennergren are the 2016 Women’s Match Racing World Champions. In the Buddy Melges Challenge, the 3rd event of the 2016 WIM Series, the Swedes defeated Anne-Claire Le Berre, Mathilde Geron and Alice Ponsar of France, in a thrilling final over five exciting matches on Lake Michigan.

“They had us under extreme pressure during four fierce fights, and it wasn’t until the very last match we were allowed to breathe, but then just a bit,” said Östling.

Their room to breathe a little came in handy in the fifth match, when they managed to force the French over early to the course side of the starting line. Le Berre had to turn back behind the line, and the Swedes took advantage of that situation to gain a lead they would keep throughout the match.

“I’m exhausted right now, but very, very happy,” shared Östling. “We’ve been fighting so hard for this the last few days, it’s been really crazy. When we woke up this morning we felt very strong.”

Anna Östling took her first World Championship gold in Cork, Ireland, in 2014, and this year’s medal is a milestone in a very successful year so far. Her Sheboygan triumph is her third consecutive WIM Series victory, after winning earlier in Helsinki, Finland, as well as in Lysekil, Sweden. With this result, her team stretches their WIM Series lead further, as only the regattas in Busan, South Korea, and St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, remain.

“Our World Championship gold is one more step towards this year’s big goal for us; to win the WIM Series,” explained Östling. “This year we’ve found calm and focus in our crew as never before, so we’re definitely prepared for becoming the overall winners.”

After a maternity leave of almost one year, Anne-Claire Le Berre came back to the WIM Series just for this World Championship, aiming for the final and for a medal to put around her neck. This time it’s silver, but the gold wasn’t very far away.

“My girls did a very good job to keep the speed up, and I’m not sure more advance practise would have helped us today,” admits Le Berre. “We made a few more mistakes than Anna, and that cost. Now we’re looking forward to the next event in South Korea.”

The petite final saw the two top teams from the round-robin stage battling it out for third place and the Women’s Match Racing World Championship bronze medals. After three incredibly tight matches, with schoolbook match racing containing several lead changes, spectacular mark roundings and stunning manoeuvres, Renée Groeneveld proved to be the strongest skipper at the end.

Her Dutch team of Lobke Berkhout and Mijke Lievens beat American Epic Racing, with skipper Stephanie Roble and crew Maggie Shea and Janel Zarkowsky, 2 – 1.

“We had a couple of split starts where we got away very good, allowing us to play our game,” shared roeneveld. “We crossed to the right side and defended it, but today it was really hard to stay in front while leading.”

Roble & Co won the round-robin stage 14 – 2, looking very strong up until the final day of racing on their home waters of Lake Michigan. Fourth place in the regatta was certainly not what the reigning WIM Series champion had hoped for, but Stephanie Roble concealed her disappointment well.

“We had really close racing all day, and I’m pretty sure all of the four teams could have won,” observed Roble. “It was a tough day and everyone raced very well, but unfortunately we made more mistakes than the others.”

The Women’s Match Racing World Championship was the third event of the 5-event Women’s International Match Racing Series (WIM Series), using the annually scheduled Buddy Melges Challenge on September 21-25. Racing was held in Elliott 6Ms on Lake Michigan.

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Final Standings
1. Anna Östling, Annie Wennergren, Linnea Wennergren, SWE, 25, 2,600 USD
2. Anne-Claire Le Berre, Mathilde Geron, Alice Ponsar, FRA, 22, 1,600 USD
3. Renée Groeneveld, Lobke Berkhout, Mijke Lievens, NED, 20, 1,300 USD
4. Stephanie Roble, Maggie Shea, Janel Zarkowsky, USA, 18, 1,100 USD
5. Caroline Sylvan, Louise Kruuse af Verchou, Frida Langenius, SWE, 16, 1,000 USD
6. Samantha Norman, Carla Holgate, Taylor Holland, NZL, 14, 900 USD
7. Pauline Courtois, Jeanne Courtois, Juliette Le Friec, FRA, 12, 800 USD
8. Nicole Breault, Molly Carapiet, Karen Loutzenheiser, USA, 10, 700 USD
9. Elizabeth Shaw, Madeline Gill, Malin Holmberg, CAN, 8, 0 USD

Results in the final:
Anna Östling, SWE – Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 3 – 2

Results in the petite final:
Renée Groeneveld, NED – Stephanie Roble, USA, 2 – 1

Semi final results:
Stephanie Roble, USA – Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 1 – 3
Anna Östling, SWE – Renée Groeneveld, NED, 3 – 1

Standings in the 2016 WIM Series (after 3 of 5 events)
1. Anna Östling, SWE, 75
2. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 48
3. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 48
4. Stephanie Roble, USA, 40
5. Renée Groeneveld, NED, 40
6. Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby, DEN, 38
7. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 22
8. Marinella Laaksonen, FIN, 21
9. Lotte Meldgaard, DEN, 18
10. Samantha Norman, NZL, 14
11. Sanna Häger, SWE, 14
12. Alexa Bezel, SUI, 12
13. Rikst Dijkstra, NED, 12
14. Nicole Breault, USA, 10
15. Johanna Bergqvist, SWE, 10
16. Antonia Degerlund, FIN, 10
17. Elizabeth Shaw, CAN, 8
18. Susanna Kukkonen FIN, 8
19. Diana Kissane, IRL, 7
20. Sanna Mattsson, SWE, 5

About the WIM Series
The Women’s International Match Racing Series (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. 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.

An overall prize purse of 50 000 USD will be distributed by the WIM Series, in addition to the prize money at each of the events included in the 2016 WIM Series (date, event name, location, boat type):
* June 27-July 1, Helsinki Women’s Match, Helsinki, Finland, J/80.
* August 8-13, Lysekil Women’s Match, Lysekil, Sweden, DS 37.
* September 21-25, Women’s Match Racing World Championship & Buddy Melges Challenge, Sheboygan, USA, Elliott 6m.
* October 25-29, Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race, Busan, South Korea, K30.
* December 1-4, Carlos Aguilar Match Race, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, IC 24.

Report by Event Media

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