Battling for Casa Vela Cup

Published on April 27th, 2023

San Francisco, CA (April 27, 2023) – The opening stage of the 2023 Women’s World Match Racing Tour saw Nicole Breault (USA) and her Vela Racing team of Molly O’Bryan Vandemoer, Dana Riley Hayes, and Maggie Bacon undefeated after Day one. Breault had posted an impressive 7-0 score.

As racing on day 1 got underway just after 1030 with Principal Race Officer Mark Townsend setting the start line right in front of the St Francis Yacht Club, teams had to quickly contend with a dominant flood tide interspersed with some eddies of ebb, a condition which Breault and her Bay Area team know only too well.

“We had a great day today but we really had to look for tidal relief by coming close to shore,” commented Breault. “This time of year, we also have the meltwater from the mountains which makes the spring runoff much stronger, causing the ebb to over-ride the flood on the surface, so it can be tricky. My team did a great job of focusing on placing us in more pressure and dealing with the shifts, and we are happy with our result.”

Skippering her first event on the Women’s World Match Racing Tour, Rebecca Coles from Great Britain admitted it was a fast learning curve in the Bay today saying, “It took us a little while to get to grips with the current today and we did hit the mark in one of our starts” said Coles, “but we were learning fast and getting better every race and we were pleased to get two wins today with some close matches, so we are feeling positive!”

Great Britain’s Sophie Otter/Otter Racing team were first up in the round robin against Australia’s Brooke Wilson/Amphitrite Racing representing the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. With both skippers new to sailing in the Bay, Otter led Wilson to a convincing lead for their first of five wins and went on to post a 5-2 result for the day, second place behind Nicole Breault/Vela Racing.

As the breeze built to 15-18 knots in the afternoon on day 1, a signal error forced a re-match between New Zealand’s Megan Thomson and USA’s Janel Zarkowsky in the last flight of the day. Hugging the shoreline in front of the St Francis Yacht Club, the teams had a tough tacking duel to the top mark with Thomson pulling ahead for the last win of the day, finishing 5-2 to share second with Sophie Otter/Otter Racing.

Day 2 of the Casa Vela Cup finished with the ten competing all-women’s teams all vying for a valued spot in the semi-finals. Local sailor Nicole Breault and her Vela Racing team lead the qualifying round undefeated with 15 wins, with New Zealanders Megan Thomson at 11 wins, and Celia Willison at 10 wins.

The day started under a light breeze and cover of the famous San Francisco fog which slowly lifted around noon for a return of blue skies and a building breeze steadying to 12-15 knots. Once again, a strong flood encouraged teams to stay close to the shoreline as they sailed to the top mark, creating some tight tacking duels as NZL’s Celia Willison explained, “Today was much better for us, we have a better handle on the boats, and we are surprised how quickly we can move them around.

“We had a great last match against our teammates from NZL [Megan Thomson] which has been our tightest race so far. The tide has certainly been interesting, today was different to yesterday and we got close to the shore, I think we gave a few swimmers on the beach a few frights.”

Lying in second place in the round robin behind Breault, NZL’s Megan Thomson is competing in her third consecutive week of match racing events after racing in the Ficker Cup and Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA before coming to San Francisco, “We’ve had a busy few weeks of match racing, but these boats are very different [to the Catalina 37’s in Long Beach].

“It feels like we have almost had to learn again but that’s match racing. We are improving every day! Today was great fun with some very close matches, and we feel we are getting used to these boats.”

On Day 3, the second round robin was completed with Nicole Breault and team remaining undefeated (18-0). The top four competitors entered the semi-final rounds. Nicole Breault and Anna Ostling split the first two races of Semi-Final 1, Ostling handing Breault the first defeat for team Vela Racing. In Semi-Final 2, Megan Thomson and Celia Willison also split the first two races.

Racing continues through Friday, April 28.

The 2023 Women’s World Match Racing Tour is a 4-event circuit underway in the USA before concluding in Europe. The entrants are set for the first two events in San Francisco and Annapolis, with Anna Östling (SWE) leading an international contingent that will face off against a USA contingent that includes Allie Blecher, Nicole Breault, and Janel Zarkowsky.

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2023 Women’s World Match Racing Tour
April 24-28 – Casa Vela Cup (J/22) – San Francisco, USA
April 30-May 4 – Santa Maria Cup (J/22) – Annapolis, USA
May 26-29 – Normandy Match Cup (First 7.5) – Le Havre, FRA
September 21-24 – KDY Women’s Match Race (DS37) – Copenhagen, DEN

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