It will be a do or die for twelve women’s match racing teams from 29
July to 11 August as the cutthroat nature of match racing is displayed at
the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Silja Lehtinen (FIN) comes into London 2012 fresh from a victory at the
2012 ISAF Women’s Match Racing Worlds in Gothenburg, Sweden but the
Finnish match racer had somewhat of a mixed 12 months prior.
Lehtinen missed out on Olympic qualification at the 2011 ISAF Worlds in
Perth, Australia despite a fantastic opening day. She bounced back to
qualify her nation at the final qualification regatta in Florida, USA in
February but had mixed results throughout the ISAF Sailing World Cup. But an
emphatic 3-0 victory over Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) in the Gothenburg final
shows she can hit it when it really matters.
World #1 in the women’s match racing rankings Tunnicliffe has held
top spot since September 2011 and has proved she is a force to be reckoned
with. Having won gold in the Laser Radial at Beijing 2008 Tunnicliffe has
made a seamless transition over to women’s match racing and has won
eight events since June 2011, including the 2011 Women’s Match Racing
Worlds. All of the teams will have to step their game up if Tunnicliffe is
to be toppled.
Claire Leroy (FRA) made her first appearance on the match racing scene in
April 2002 and has made ten appearances at the Women’s Match Racing
Worlds. Leroy won the event in 2007 and 2008 and has racked up plenty of
match racing miles. Her experience will prove vital as tensions and pressure
mount on the course.
One of the most exciting prospects comes from Australia in the form of
Olivia Price. The Australian will turn 20 midway through the Olympic Sailing
Competition and her progression up the women’s match racing rankings
has been rapid. With regatta victories on Olympic waters and a third place
as crew with Nicky Souter at the Women’s Worlds in 2010 she’s a
hot contender for a podium finish.
Further challenges for podium finishes will come from Russia’s
Ekaterina Skudina and World #2 Lucy Macgregor (GBR) who despite a lack of
form both have what it takes to mix it with the best.
Lotte Pedersen (DEN), Renee Groeneveld (NED), Stephanie Hazard (NZL), Rita
Goncalves (POR), Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) and Anna Kjellberg (SWE) make up the
rest of the competitors but have yet to demonstrate the consistent
performances shown by the favourites.
Women’s Match Racing commences on 29 July and rounds off the Olympic
Sailing Competition on 11 August with the Petit Final and Final in front of
the Nothe spectator area.
photos Janos Schmidt