The final battle for Olympic country qualification in Women's match racing is coming up.
The 2011 Women's Match World Championship qualified 8 countries to send a team to the Olympics. Those countries are (Australia, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Russia and USA). GBR, as host country, is also given a berth. That leaves 3 open slots.
To qualify those final 3 countries, Sail Sheboygan, WIMRA and Key Biscayne Yacht Club will run the Women's Match Race Country Qualifier. Feb 2-5 will see teams from nine countries come together to compete to qualify their country for one of those final spots. The countries still vying to qualify are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Spain and Slovenia. 7 of the 9 countries have already nominated a skipper, while Canada and Brazil will use the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta to determine their skipper.
Representing their countries will be:
Argentina - Martina Silva, ranked 29th in the latest ISAF rankings
Brazil - Either Renata Decnop, who finished 17th overall at the Perth Worlds, or Juliana Senfft, who is ISAF ranked 16th in the world.
Canada - Sharon Ferris-Choat, currently ranked #36 by ISAF or Jinnie Gordon
China - Ru Wang, currently ranked #32, and finished 21st in Perth
Denmark - Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, a veteran on the women's match race circuit, finishing 16th in Perth, and currently ranked #30 by ISAF
Finland - Silja Lehtinen, 14th in Perth, and ranked #9 by ISAF
Germany - Silke Hahlbrock, ranked #20 by ISAF and finished 18th in Perth
Spain - Tamara Echegoyan, finished 12th in Perth (9th country overall), ranked by ISAF at #8
Slovenia - Vesna Dekleva Paoli, ranked #24 by ISAF, finishing 19th in Perth
The race format will be a single round robin(everyone races each other once), cutting the 9 to 6. Any ties for the cutoff will be determined by sail-offs on the water to make sure the tie breaks are made by racing. After the cut, there will be a double round robin (skippers race each other twice), to narrow the field to the final 4.
The final 4 will then race in a knock-out series to determine the final four places, the 3 countries who will qualify, and the first alternate.
The qualifier promises to deliver spectacular racing. Most of the teams will have just come off 7 days of racing in the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, so they will be at the top of their game and familiar with the boats and the waters.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS