Women’s Match Racing Remains Strong

Published on January 19th, 2017

(January 19, 2017) – Last month the U.S. Virgin Islands hosted an amazing conclusion to the fourth year of the Women’s International Match Racing Series (WIM Series). Altogether 147 sailors in 28 teams from 17 countries battled it out in the 2016 season, sailing no less than 747 stunning matches, to fight for a share of the total prize purse of USD 222 000.

“The whole year was fantastic. Each venue presented the competitors (and organizers) with different challenging conditions, and the sailors conquered those challenges with the professionalism you would expect from the best women sailors” WIM Series Manager Liz Baylis comments.

The 2016 WIM Series premiere in June saw a new event in a new venue, as the inaugural Helsinki Women’s Match in Finland was set up. The old favourite and benchmark event Lysekil Women’s Match followed in August on the beautiful Swedish west coast, and then in September the World Championship and the Buddy Melges Challenge in Sheboygan, USA. Swedish World #1 Anna Östling and her team got a flying start, winning all these three events.

“To win in Lysekil was one of our main goals for 2016, a truly spectacular victory. And then the World Championship title in Sheboygan was hard fought and a true team effort. An amazing feeling to win the gold!” says Östling.

With three event wins in the bag, Team Anna came to the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race in Korea in October, aiming to secure the 2016 WIM Series title. Australian veteran Katie Spithill took the event in style, but a finish just outside the podium was enough for the Swedes to get their names on the Terry J Kohler Perpetual Trophy.

“Except for the last day we really had good momentum. Securing the overall title was great, but our result makes us want to come back for more,” Östling comments.
“Team Anna set the bar very high from the beginning, with their win in Helsinki, and never let up until they had secured the 2016 WIM Series title with an event to spare. Four champions in four years, great competition at the highest level of women’s match racing!” Baylis points out.

The 2016 WIM Series concluded as it began, with a new venue. But the Carlos Aguilar Match Race in the sunny U.S. Virgin Islands was no stranger to world-class match racing, with previous winners reading like a Who’s Who of sailing. Dutch Olympian Renée Groeneveld won the first all-female edition, defeating Stephanie Roble of the USA. However, on the overall WIM Series 2016 standings, the order was reversed.

“Five teams were in the hunt for second overall on the Series, and we did some hard work in the event to secure second overall by making the finals,” Roble comments.
“But we aren’t satisfied until we win, and unfortunately this year we had no event wins and were not able to defend our 2015 WIM Series title,” she states.

Behind the overall top-three a whole bunch of highly skilled and merited, as well as young and rising, skippers and crews participated in a various number of events on the 2016 WIM Series. French skipper Pauline Courtois started her year as runner-up behind Östling in Helsinki, and all the way to U.S. Virgin Islands she kept the possibility alive to gain the same position overall.

“Helsinki was our first podium finish in the WIM Series, and we are super happy of that. But we are also a bit disappointed with the end of our year. This winter and spring we’re going to practise against some male teams, to keep improving for the 2017 season,” Courtois reveals.

The 2017 WIM Series events aren’t all set this early, but we know for sure that the Women’s World Match Racing Championship in Helsinki in June will be one of the peak competitions. Finnish skipper Antonia Degerlund finished 13th on the 2016 WIM Series, and is happy to welcome all the teams to her home waters off of Hernesaari Island.

“We can’t wait for the World Championship in our hometown. It’s going to be an amazing event, and we’re so proud to host it,” she concludes.

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. For more information, click here.

Source: WIM Series Media

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