Courtois wins crucial match ups to lead World Championship

World number 1, Pauline Courtois and her Match in Pink team from France, lead the qualifying round at the 2022 Barfoot & Thompson Women’s Match Racing World Championship after two days of racing in challenging conditions on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.

The event is the final stage of the 2022 Women’s World Match Racing Tour.

From blue skies to squalls and rain, then finally a break in the weather, it was another gripping day on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour for the Worlds. New Zealand lived up to its late spring reputation, delivering at least three seasons in one day and a postponement on land due to heavy weather passing through Auckland.

Yesterday, the teams flew through day one in challenging conditions, with 11 flights completed and nine hours on the water.

Anna Östling (SWE) and the WINGS Team – Adam Mustill pic

Defying the weather gods, all 14 teams again took to the water at 1600 hours local time today, this time west of the Harbour Bridge where the conditions were more settled but still providing about 15 knots of east-northeast conditions.

Teams continued to battle rain and low cloud, but it didn’t hinder the front-runners Pauline Courtois (FRA, Match in Pink), Celia Willison (NZL, Edge Women’s Racing) and Sweden’s Anna Östling (SWE, Wings Racing), all likely to make their way to the quarter-finals tomorrow, with Megan Thomson (NZL, 2.0 Racing) just one race away from the securing her team a spot.

On Saturday local time, six teams will fight for the four remaining quarter final spots and will go head-to-head with the top ranked teams, however Courtois, the current four-time world champion, will be hard to beat.

Skipper of New Zealand’s 2.0 Racing, Megan Thomson, knows there’s an exciting challenge ahead: “It’ll be a nail-biting day to get to the quarter-finals and I think it will be pretty tough,” she said.

“All the points look close, so we’re taking it one race at a time. I think we pulled through with some good boat handling earlier this week and I’d like to credit the crew for that! It’s going to soften off so there’s definitely more exciting match racing to come.”

Despite plenty of experience sailing on the Waitemata Harbour, Thomson said, “It’s still anyone’s game.”

“Having local knowledge has helped at times but it’s just so changeable. Racing on the other side of the bridge meant the left was really strong and you needed to come off the start line really well,” said Thomson.

International Race Officer, Megan Kensington, commented on today’s conditions and noted a promising forecast ahead.

“Today was probably easier than yesterday. We still had some big gusts but nowhere near what we had yesterday. We’re in good shape going into Saturday and we’re well through the program because we were able to get so much done yesterday, and then completed four flights today,” she stated.

“We’ll finish off the round robin in the morning, and then head straight into the quarterfinals. The forecast is looking great for the weekend, almost perfect conditions for match racing.”

Friday’s racing wrapped up at the end of flight 15, with three further round robin flights scheduled for Saturday before the quarter-final event. Auckland’s weather is expected to do a ‘full 180’, with just 20% cloud cover, plenty of sun and a switch to a north westerly breeze.

Follow the action on the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s social media channels, where the team will be posting daily photography, videos, and reels. You can also watch the event finals LIVE and hosted by Alex Maloney and Scotty Dickson, with streaming available on the RNZYS Facebook and Instagram, or at: matchracingresults.com.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron thanks our line-up of sponsors for this fantastic event, led by Barfoot & Thompson and supported by Auckland Unlimited, Dubarry, Scarbro and Live Sail Die.

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