Katie Spithill in second place after first day of Women's Match Racing Busan

The Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race, the last event on the 2014 WIM Series, couldn’t have kicked off with more challenging conditions. Sunday’s racing offered waves of up to three metres height, gusts around 30 knots and as many degrees suddenly shifting wind direction:

“I felt just like being in a washing machine,” sighs Anne-Claire Le Berre of France, who, despite that impression, managed the conditions in a formidable way. With three wins and no losses she’s the only undefeated skipper at the top of the scoreboard so far in the regatta.

Super Typhoon Vongfong is not expected to disturb the racing in the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race until Monday, but Sunday’s conditions were challenging enough for the crews on this final event of the 2014 WIM Series. The swells and the puffs caused not only severe difficulties in boat handling, but also a few minor breakdowns and some seasickness among the crews. Yet 20 matches were sailed, after a short initial postponement.

For the leader after the day, Anne-Claire Le Berre, the day started with a spinnaker halyard that was jammed in the block at the top of the mast. Luckily enough, the French team discovered the problem well before the start and put up their Lima flag, requesting for repairs to be executed: “Then our start sequence began a little bit too quick after the repair work was finished, so we couldn’t prepare ourselves well enough and missed that start badly,” Le Berre explains.

The French team weren’t able to pass their Japanese opponents, helmed by WIM Series newcomer Urara Fujii, until the first downwind run of that match: “It took some effort to catch up with and pass the Japanese team, but the other two matches of the day we lead quite comfortably from start to finish,” Anne-Claire comments.

 “Being here is a great chance for us to compete against high-level teams, and learn a lot from that,” Fujii comments her first WIM Series performance, that has not yet given her team any wins.

Singaporean Denise Lim is also doing her first ever WIM Series event, and she hasn’t sailed the K30.s nor on Busan waters before. Nevertheless she managed to get two wins out of three matches, one of them over former Match Racing World Champion and WIM Series titleholder, Lucy Macgregor of Great Britain: “It’s been a great experience so far, and I’m hoping for some support from our federation to continue racing on the WIM Series next year,” says Denise Lim.

WIM Series leader and reigning World Champion Anna Kjellberg of Sweden commenced the Busan event quite tentatively, posting just one win but two losses after day 1. Trine Palludan of Denmark, substitute for compatriot and World # 1 Camilla Ulrikkeholm at the helm of their team, was relieved to be 3 – 0 after having been stuck on the anchoring line of the committee boat. But then the Danes were defeated by Australian Katie Spithill in their last match of the day, and had to go ashore with a 3 – 1 score.

With Super Typhoon Vongfong predicted to approach the waters of Haeundae beach on Monday, bringing 50 millimetres of rain and as many knots of wind, it may be no racing at all tomorrow: “That decision will have to wait until Monday morning,” Regatta Director Alfredo Ricci concludes.

Standings in the round-robin of the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race, the fifth and final event of the 2014 WIM Series (skipper, country, wins – losses):
1. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 3 – 0
2. Katie Spithill, AUS, 3 – 1
2. Trine Palludan, DEN, 3 – 1
4. Stephanie Roble, USA, 2 – 1
4. Denise Lim, SIN, 2 – 1
4. Lucy Macgregor, GBR, 2 – 1
4. Susannah Pyatt, NZL, 2 – 1
8. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 2 – 2
9. Anna Kjellberg, SWE, 1 – 2
10. Sung Eun Choi, KOR, 0 – 3
10. Urara Fujii, JPN, 0 – 3
12. Claudia Pierce, NZL, 0 – 4


With winds around 30 knots, and even stronger gusts from the nearby Super Typhoon Vongfong, there was no possibility at all to race in Busan on Monday. The sailors received the disappointing but expected message when gathered for the Monday morning briefing in the 19th floor gym of the Seacloud Hotel: “From the hotel roof we can clearly see the sea state and feel how much the wind is blowing, well above the limit,” Regatta Director Alfredo Ricci stated. “Even without the Official Warning of Korean Coast Guard, there wasn’t a single chance to sail today.” 

The Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race, the last event on the 2014 WIM Series, will resume racing Tuesday, if the weather allows: “I have signals that the weather should improve during the night and I really hope we can go back sailing tomorrow,” says Alfredo Ricci, well aware of the importance of the regatta.

There is not only a 100 000 USD prize purse for the Korean event at stake, but also the prestige of the Terry J Kohler Perpetual Trophy and the prize money of 50 000 USD for the 2014 WIM Series: “The main goal for Tuesday is to do the three flights left to complete the two groups of the round-robin. Then we will proceed sailing the remaining flights, to complete a full and fair round-robin,” the Regatta Director concludes.

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