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27 sailors fighting for gold medals

27 sailors fighting for gold medals

27 sailors fighting for gold medals

– Women’s Match Racing World Championship coming up

The 2016 Women’s Match Racing World Championship is ready to kick off racing on Wednesday. This year the Buddy Melges Challenge in Sheboygan, USA, the 3rd event of the 2016 WIM Series, will be elevated in status and name and become the World Championship:
“As a long-time sponsor and supporter of women’s match racing, Sheboygan Yacht Club is thrilled to be welcoming some of the best sailors in the world back to our club and beautiful waterfront” says Denise Cornell, Vice Commodore of the Sheboygan Yacht Club.

The World Sailing Women’s Match Racing World Championship is an annual event that was first held in Genoa, Italy, in 1999, after a successful event was held as part of the 1998 ISAF Sailing World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The winner in Dubai, American Betsy Alison, had to settle for second place in 1999, with Dorte O Jensen of Denmark scoring her first of three consecutive World titles. In 2006 Dorte O Jensen won again, and is with her four titles the most victorious Women’s Match Racing World Championship skipper ever.

The 2015 World Champion Lotte Meldgaard of Denmark will not be in Sheboygan to defend her title. Swedish skipper Anna Östling is in fact the only previous Women’s Match Racing World Champion to come to this year’s event, if 2002 World Champion Liz Baylis is not to be counted. However, Baylis is no longer on the starting line, but nowadays part of the management team for the regatta as well as chair of the World Sailing Match Racing Committee:
“Sheboygan offers a unique venue for the World Championship – the first fresh water venue to host the Women’s Match Racing World Championship. Although it is “lake sailing”, Lake Michigan is the size of many seas and when the wind whips up the waves can get big and the conditions challenging” she comments.

Skippers in the Women’s Match Racing World Championship & Buddy Melges Challenge, the 3rd event of the 2016 WIM Series, in Sheboygan, USA (name, nationality, world ranking):
Anna Östling, SWE, 1
She started match racing on foredeck, but 32 years old Anna Östling of the Royal Gothenburg YC found her interest in helming rise. After her Olympic debut in Weymouth2012, she finished second in the 2013 inaugural WIM Series. In 2014 Anna became a mother for the first time, and just a few weeks later she took the World Championship title. She finished runner-up in the 2014 WIM Series, and has taken a firm grip on the 2016 WIM Series by winning the first two events. Anna is ranked World #1.

Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 3
33 years old Anne-Claire Le Berre from Brest on the Atlantic coast of France is back on WIM Series after a short maternity leave. She’s been into match racing since 2005, with several triumphs in Grade 1-events, and is the reigning national match racing champion after consecutive wins in 2014 and 2015. Anne-Claire finished last year with a win in Busan, for a podium position on the 2015 WIM Series. She’s also done an Olympic campaign in the Yngling, and is not only a very skilled sailor, but also a naval architect.

Stephanie Roble, USA, 4
26 years old Stephanie Roble started sailing dinghies and scows out of Lake Beulah YC. Later she picked up match racing, and together with Maggie Shea she became in 2012 the first woman to win both the US Women’s and the Open Match Racing Championships. In 2014 Stephanie Roble won the Etchells Worlds and the US Women’s Match Racing Championships. 2014 and 2015 she finished third in the World Championships, and last year she and her Epic Racing Team took the WIM Series title.
Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 5
As “everybody else” in Sweden, 27 years old Caroline Sylvan began her sailing career in the Optimist and Europe dinghies, participating in Nordic and European as well as World Championships. After twice becoming national champion in Laser Radial, she began match racing in 2010 and immediately won the Youth National Championships. In 2012 Caroline reached the podium in the European Championships, and last year she took her second consecutive 4th place in Lysekil and finished 5th on the WIM Series.

Pauline Courtois, FRA, 6
27 years old sport teacher Pauline Courtois from Brest started sailing at seven and racing at nine. She has been in match racing on different positions since 2011. In 2013 she finished runner-up when calling the tactics for Julie Bossard in the WIM Series event in Saint-Quay-Portrieux, and took a bronze medal in the national championships. Pauline made her skipper debut on the WIM Series in 2014, and opened the 2016 WIM Series season as runner-up in Helsinki in June, followed by 6th place in Lysekil in August.

Renée Groeneveld, NED, 8
In the 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth, now 29 years old Renée from Haarlemsche Jachtclub close to Amsterdam, reached the quarter finals. After a break from match racing since then, the Dutch skipper made her debut on WIM Series last year, posting 4th places in Sheboygan and Busan. At the 2016 opening event in Helsinki she reached the podium, and is now aiming for the top spot in the World Championship in Sheboygan. When not sailing, Renée looks after customer service and planning at Vopak.

Nicole Breault, USA, 15
A history teacher with a Masters in Teaching and a Masters in Education, and a tutoring practice called the Salty Professor, 44 years old Nicole Breault from the St. Francis Yacht Club also finds some time to go match racing. At the beginning of her career she did bow or main and tactics, but nowadays she’s a successful helmsman. In 2015 Nicole won the US Women’s Match Racing Championship in Newport, as well as the prestigious Nations Cup in Vladivostok, Russia. Sheboygan is her first 2016 WIM Series event.

Samantha Norman, NZL, 41
Representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, 29 years old physiotherapist Samantha sailed a lot of match racing in 2005 – 2011. She won the inaugural Buddy Melges Challenge in 2009 and finished runner-up the year after. After a long break from sailing, she’s come back to match racing this year, winning the national championship in Waitemata Harbour. The Women’s Match Racing World Championship in Sheboygan will be her WIM Series debut. Kite surfing is Samantha’s favourite nowadays.

Elizabeth Shaw, CAN, –
As crew for Stephanie Roble’s Epic Racing, Elizabeth from Oakcliff Sailing won the 2015 WIM Series, and finished runner-up in the last event in Lysekil, Sweden. In this year’s Women’s Match Racing World Championship in Sheboygan, she will for the first time on the WIM Series helm her own team. Shaw has gained a lot of experience from many dinghy classes, as well as from one design racing and offshore boats. After Sheboygan she’s aiming to defend the WIM series title with the American Epic Racing team.

Previous winners of the Women’s Match Racing World Championship (year, skipper, nationality, event place):
(1998            Betsy Alison, USA                                  Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
1999              Dorte O Jensen, DEN                              Genoa, Italy
2000              Dorte O Jensen, DEN                              Florida, USA
2001              Dorte O Jensen, DEN                              Lake Ledro, Italy
2002              Liz Baylis, USA                                      Calpe, Spain
2003              Malin Millbourn, SWE                            Sundsvall, Sweden
2004              Sally Barkow, USA                                 Annapolis, USA
2005              Sally Barkow, USA                                 Bermuda
2006              Dorte O Jensen, DEN                              Copenhagen, Denmark
2007              Claire Leroy, FRA                                   St Quay, France
2008              Claire Leroy, FRA                                   Auckland, New Zealand
2009              Nicky Souter, AUS                                  Lysekil, Sweden
2010              Lucy Macgregor, GBR                            Newport, USA
2011              Anna Tunnicliffe, USA                            Perth, Australia
2012              Silja Lehtinen, FIN                                   Långedrag, Sweden
2013              Tamara Echegoyen, ESP                          Busan, Korea
2014              Anna Östling, SWE                                  Cork, Ireland
2015              Lotte Meldgaard, DEN                            Middelfart, Denmark
2016              ??                                                              Sheboygan, USA

More information:
Yesterday’s press release: WIM Series standings and midway preview.
Tuesday’s press release: US skippers Breault and Roble + Sail Sheboygan and SEAS
Wednesday: First day of racing in Sheboygan.
Sunday: Finals and prize giving.
For more facts, useful contact details and links, please see below.



The Women’s International Match Racing Series (WIM Series) is the first and only professional sailing series for women, hosted by the Women’s International Match Racing Association and joined by the world’s leading women match racing sailors. Match racing is sailed in two identical boats around a short course, providing fast action close to the crowds on shore. The intense racing is just as exciting for the spectators as it is strategically, tactically and physically challenging for the competing crews.

An overall prize purse of 50 000 USD will be distributed by the WIM Series in addition to the prize money at each of the four events included in the 2016 WIM Series (date, event name, location, boat type):

  • June 27 – July 1, Helsinki Women’s Match, Helsinki, Finland, J/80.
  • August 8 – 13, Lysekil Women’s Match, Lysekil, Sweden, DS 37.
  • September 20 – 25, Women’s Match Racing World Championship & Buddy Melges Challenge, Sheboygan, USA, Elliott 6m.
  • October 25 – 29, Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race, Busan, South Korea, K30.
  • December 1 – 4, Carlos Aguilar Match Race, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, IC 24.

The WIM Series is hosted by WIMRA. Official suppliers are Sailnet, Sebago, MILK, Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan, Adstream, Intertidal Ventures, Fredag and Match Racing Results Service.

Images: A number of hi-res images are available for download on

More information about the Women’s International Match Racing Series:
WIM Series Press Officer Joakim Hermansson,, +46 70 604 25 04
WIM Series Manager Liz Baylis,, +1 415 691 6202

The Buddy Melges Challenge has been an ISAF Grade One match racing event in Sheboygan, USA, for a number of years. The event is named after the famous Olympian, America’s Cup sailor, boat builder, and Wisconsinite Buddy Melges, whose contributions to the sport have been long standing. The trophy for the event resides in the Sheboygan Yacht Club, and is a replica of the America’s Cup.

More information about the Buddy Melges Challenge:
Buddy Melges Challenge Press Officer Janet Weyandt,, +1 920 980 6894

The World Sailing Women’s Match Racing World Championship is an annual event that was first held in Genoa, Italy in 1999, after a successful event was held as part of the 1998 ISAF Sailing World Championship in Dubai, UAE. Skippers are invited to attend the Championship based on their World Sailing Match Racing Ranking position. Denmark’s Dorte Jensen is the most successful sailor, having amassed four World Championship titles.

World Sailing Communications Department,, + 44 2380 635 111