Breault dominates Match Race Champs
Published on August 22nd, 2021
With ten teams competing in J/22s at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship, Nicole Breault (San Francisco, CA) dominated the field, winning all 16 of her matches to claim the Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy for the fourth time. The championship was hosted by San Diego Yacht Club on August 20-22 in San Diego, CA.
Sailing with Molly Carapiet (San Francisco, CA), Karen Loutzenheiser (Santa Cruz, CA), and Julie Mitchell (San Diego, CA), the winners were a seasoned team as Breault had won her three previous titles with Carapiet and Loutzenheiser while the addition of Mitchell gave the team local knowledge with the boats and venue.
“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.”
Meeting Breault in the finals was Janel Zarkowsky (Annapolis, MD) who was hopeful 2021 would be her turn. She was on the winning team in 2014 and had been in the top three each successive year, twice falling short in the Finals against Breault. For 2021, Zarkowsky teamed with Annabelle Ayer (Marblehead, MA), Madeline Gill (Charleston, SC), and Rose Edwards (Chicago, IL).
“I love match racing because it is so intense, so precise, and so fun,” said Zarkowsky. “It’s so rewarding and we keep coming back for more.”
As the 2020 championship was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, Bridget Groble (Chicago, IL) had a chance to sharpen her skills since finishing last in 2019, advancing this time to the Semi-Final stage before getting blanked by Breault. However, Groble rallied to beat 2019 champion Allie Blecher (Signal Hill, CA) in the Petite Finals.
By winning this event, Breault receives an automatic invitation to compete at the 2021 U.S. Match Racing Championship on October 1-3 in Long Beach, CA.
Source: Scuttlebutt, US Sailing