Set to be held out of Dongbaek Park, Haeundae Beach in Busan, London 2012 Women’s Match Racing gold medallist Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) will be the favourite to add a World title to her Olympic gold.
Echegoyen’s (ESP) last match racing appearance was at Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race in October 2012 where she finished third and she is excited for some match racing action, “I took part in the last match race event in October and now I’m missing sailing boat against boat, I like it so much,” said the Spaniard who has since taken to the Women’s Skiff, the 49erFX, for a Rio 2016 Olympic campaign.
“I’ve been in Busan once (last year) and I liked it. All the people who made Busan Match Cup possible did a really good job and I am very happy to come to sail again at their event.”
Amongst the entrants are Olympic skippers Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) and Anna Kjellberg (SWE) as well as Olympic crew turned skipper Susannah Pyatt (NZL) and Echegoyen expects some stiff competition, “For the last three years many teams worked so hard to get to the Olympics so all of them have a very good level. We did a lot of events sailing against each other and all of us girls fight each match to win without thinking about how many titles or trophies our competitors have won.
“Now, we are starting a new event and we have to work hard to try to win all of the matches. I’m sure it will be an amazing event and the Race Committee, Umpires, organizers and volunteers will do their best and I wish every team good luck.”
The nine teams of five sailors per team will be sailing 9m match racing boats with eight skippers from the double round-robin advancing to a first to 3 points quarter-final. The winners will progress to the semi-final with remaining competitors sailing a 5-8 knock out series.
The petit final and final will be played out on 9 June with the winner set to be presented with the Francoise Pascal Memorial – Women’s Match Racing World Championship Trophy and a share of the $100,000 prize fund.
Camilla Ulrikkeholm (DEN) has competed in four of the last five ISAF Women’s Match Racing Worlds with a sixth at the 2009 event in Lysekil, Sweden her best result but she is confident ahead of racing. “My team and I have been preparing for this event for two months now and we’re very excited to go,” said the World #4.
“During the period where Women’s Match Racing was a part of the Olympics and a lot of teams were campaigning we continuously tried to keep Women’s Match Racing going in the bigger boats. We are a big team and have sailed together for many years and therefore we see our communication as an advantage.
“Our many years of sailing big boats with a crew of six (DS37 in Copenhagen, Denmark) will hopefully lead us to some success in the Bakewell 9m boat.
“We’re looking very much forward to meeting the teams again for some action on the course. We have goals, but for now it’s a team secret.”
At World #165 Katie Spithill (AUS) is the lowest ranked sailor set to compete in Busan but with extensive experience at the helm, she won’t be taken lightly. Spithill became the first Australian to win an ISAF Women’s Match Racing medal in 2007 with silver in St. Quay, France.
Spithill worked her way up to World #2 in 2009 before making a switch to crew with Nicky Souter in their attempts to qualify for London 2012. Spithill missed out on an Olympic spot and with her last match racing appearance in January 2012 she will be watched closely from the outset.
Switzerland’s Alexa Bezel will be sailing in familiar waters in Busan having competed at the Busan Women’s Match last year but the event marks new territory for her, “It’s our first Match Racing World Championship,” said Bezel who is currently World #12, “After a disappointing result in St. Quay only a few weeks ago [Bezel finished ninth] we just want to do better and have fun on the water. We want to learn a lot and step forward. The level of racing will be pretty high with all the girls coming from the Olympics so it is a great moment for us to measure us with them.
“We are still in an outsider position so we have nothing to lose against the other girls. We are looking forward to fighting and doing our best.”
Another new face to the ISAF Women’s Match Racing Worlds will be New Zealand’s Claudia Pierce. The Kiwi has had a busy year taking in four ISAF Graded events including the Grade 1 St. Quay Women’s Match Race where she finished seventh and she’s keen to get going, “I am really looking forward to the Worlds in Busan,” said Pierce. “It will be my first ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Champs so really looking forward to the competition and the atmosphere.”
At 20-years-old Pierce is the second youngest skipper in the field, home nation hopeful Sungeun Choi being the youngest, so for the New Zealander it will be a big learning curve, “We are quite a new team but have had lots of training against youth and male teams back home with a full summer of regattas and training so we are hoping we can improve on our seventh in St. Quay.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a tough competition with lots of great racing.”
Skippers take to the water on 4 June for a practice day with the Opening Ceremony in the evening before the competition gets going on 5 June through to 9 June.
1. Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) – World #2
2. Camilla Ulrikkeholm (DEN) – World #4
3. Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) – World #9
4. Alexa Bezel (SUI) – World #12
5. Anna Kjellberg (SWE) – World #21
6. Claudia Pierce (NZL) – World #25
7. Susannah Pyatt (NZL) – World #52
8. Sung-Eun Choi (KOR) – World #130
9. Katie Spithill (AUS) – World #165
ISAF Event Microsite