Courtois wins Women’s Match Racing World Champs

Published on November 13th, 2022

Auckland, New Zealand (November 13, 2022) – French match racing legend, Pauline Courtois, claimed the podium today after she and her team ‘Match in Pink’, held on to their lead throughout the past four days and finally defeated New Zealand’s Celia Willison of ‘Edge Women’s Match’.

Four days of match racing with the world’s best female sailors, all vying for the title of Women’s Match Racing World Champions, has today drawn to a close, but not before delivering all of the excitement that comes with match racing to spectators.

The global fleet of female sailors have been battling it out on the Waitemata Harbour, in Auckland’s changeable and challenging conditions. Fog, squalls, sun and rain have kept sailors on their toes with four days of tight match racing, right in front of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and next to Auckland’s iconic Harbour Bridge.

The winning skipper of the Barfoot & Thompson 2022 Women’s Match Racing World Championship is 33-year-old sports teacher from Brest and helm of ‘Match in Pink’ (FRA), Pauline Courtois. Courtois started sailing at seven and racing at nine, and has been in match racing in different positions since 2011.

Her favorite boat for match racing is the Elliott 6m, so racing in Elliot 7m this week saw her years of experience pay off at the end of the day when Courtois became champion of the event, taking a clean sweep 2-0 win against 24 year old Celia Willison’s Edge Women’s Match (NZL) in the finals match. The win comes just one week after also taking out the New Zealand Women’s Match Racing title with the same two teams head to head and Courtois taking the top New Zealand spot from Willison.

The five-strong Match in Pink team held on tight at the top of the pack throughout the round-robin flights, landing themselves in a fiercely competitive three-way tie for first place after the round-robin was completed. Courtois held strong into the semi-finals before finishing with an astonishing win today.

Courtois and her team, consisting of Maelenn Lemaitre, Louise Acker, Thea Khelif and Clara Bayou, stood proudly onstage as the prize-giving guests gave them a hearty Kiwi congratulations and a standing ovation before Courtois delivered her short acceptance speech.

Celia Willisons’ New Zealand team, Edge Women’s Match, which is made up of Willison and her longtime teammates Charlotte Porter, Serena Woodall, Paige Cook and Alison Kent, proudly took second place on the podium after an enjoyable competition sailing on home waters.

Willison thanked the race sponsors, race committee and the umpires before congratulating her team and finally making special note of her tough competitor Courtois. “Thank you to Pauline for just giving us ‘heaps’ in that final, it was a repeat of last week and we can’t wait to race again!”

Sweden’s Anna Östling and her team ‘Wings’ have ventured across the world alongside their supporters and have held on tightly to the top of the pack. Today they were paired with New Zealand’s Megan Thomson and her team ‘2.0 Racing’. The teams went head-to-head today in the petit final, which was a sudden death, with Thompson ultimately taking out third place for the Kiwis on 2.0 Racing.

Four-time US Women’s Match Racing Champion Nicole Breault’s Vela Racing (USA), sailing with Molly O’Bryan Vandemoer, Dana Riley Hayes, Karen Loutzenheiser, and Julie Mitchell, finished fifth overall.

Fellow American Janel Zarkowsky, whose team beat Vela Racing to finish second in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship, finished seventh overall with her teammates, Allie Blecher, Rose Edwards, Meaghan MacRae, and Aimee Famularo.

Auckland delivered light, shifty and frustrating conditions for the final day of racing, with the outgoing tide also providing another element for the sailors to deal with. However there was enough wind for racing to get underway and only a few short breaks were required due to changeable conditions.

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Commodore, Andrew Aitken, said Auckland lived up to its reputation as the City of Sails. “We’ve seen Auckland deliver every sort of weather possible, today we had four seasons in half an hour! But the various teams, particularly the race management volunteers, pulled through to make the event a true success,” said Aitken.

“We’ve seen some great racing, some really close racing, and in fact, all 14 teams were just right up there, which is just tremendous for women’s sailing.” he continued.

“It’s magic to have a world-class event hosted here at the RNZYS and in Auckland, it’s the sort of thing we like to do, and we probably don’t do it enough. It’s great to see yachting happening at this level in little New Zealand, competitors travelled from Australia, Great Britain, France, Sweden and the USA – it’s really cool. I’d like to say well done to the competitors and we can’t wait to have you back racing with the Squadron again!” said Aitken.

New Zealand ChampionshipWorld Championship

Source: RNZYS

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