Down to the wire sailing confirms final four for semi-final and final rounds of The Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Bermuda

Down to the wire sailboat racing and a reversal of fortune marked the conclusion of Stage 2 of The Virtual Spectator ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship yesterday. French sailor Claire Leroy climbed back from the bottom of the fleet to finish first, while Marje Bjorling the earlier leader from Sweden was knocked out of the competition during the final race. The top four finishers will sail in the semi final and final rounds today (Tuesday).

“That is the amazing part about this kind of match racing in that you can be first and then you can be out,” Leroy said. “After our performance on the first day we decided to go out there and just see what happens. We were too stressed at the beginning but today we stayed focused.”

Having sailed a near flawless regatta, Bjorling struggled throughout the day, then received a penalty during the pre- start sequence in her final race against American Betsy Alison, which cost her the regatta. She came ashore still puzzled by the reason for the penalty and totally phased out by her sudden downfall. “After fighting so hard it is difficult to lose it through an umpire’s call but that is the way it is in match racing,” Bjorling said, adding. “But, we have had a wonderful regatta and hope to be back.”

As the Swedish team stood down, a young Danish team led by Nina Braestrup finished their round robin in second place after sailing consistently over the three days. “The first day was one of our best but struggled today to win three races, and by mid day we were down two and facing American Sally Barkow,” Braestrup said. “We thought it was the end, but defeated Barkow in a very close match and stayed in the game. We are very happy to be the semi-final round.”

Veteran sailor Betsy Alison finished third place after defeating Marie Bjorling in the final race. “We really had some good races today but did make mistakes. Being one of the older teams here, we have that experience over the younger ones that sometimes helps us,” Alison said. “I also think it is great that older women are in the final four and made the cut.”

Another young woman making her mark in match racing is Sally Barkow of the United States who made a fantastic comeback after her teammate Carrie Howe fell overboard during their race against Betsy Alison.

Barkow pulled Howe back onboard just as Howe was ready to let go of the boat, and although the Americans lost that race they went on to finish in fourth place. “We set our goal to stay in the top six and now we are in the top four which is great,” Barkow said. “We got through our mishap today and hung in there. The competition is so tough and match racing is not something we do a lot of. We are more of a fleet racing team campaigning for the Olympics so this discipline is quite new to us. That we are right up there playing with the best is pretty great.”

After semi-final and final rounds today (Tues), the winner of The Virtual Spectator ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship will compete against the top seeded men skippers for a shot at winning The Investor’s Guaranty presentation of the King Edward VII Gold Cup and a share of the $100,000 prize money.