Adam Minoprio (NZL) has finally broken the French stranglehold at the top of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings. By displacing Mathieu Richard (FRA) at the top of the Open Rankings, Minoprio is the first non-French skipper to occupy the top spot in either the Open or Women's Match Race Rankings since June 2008.
The success story continues for Oceania's sailors in the Women's Rankings, where new ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Nicky Souter (AUS) joins teammate Katie Spithill to give Australia two skippers in the world top five. However there is still no moving France from the top as Claire Leroy (FRA) makes it 35 consecutive releases (over four years) in the world #1 spot.
Adam Minoprio (NZL) jumps up two places in this release to hit the world #1 spot for the first time, following in the footsteps of other famous Kiwis to hold the World Rankings top spot such as Dean Barker (NZL), Russell Coutts (NZL) and Chris Dickson (NZL).
Since demonstrating his talent by winning the prestigious Warren Jones Youth Regatta in Perth three years ago, Minoprio, now aged 24, has rapidly developed into a major force on the world match racing scene. Last year he won his first ISAF Grade 1 match racing event and ended up fourth in the World Match Racing Tour for the ISAF Match Racing World Championship, just missing out on the bronze medal to Mathieu Richard (FRA).
In 2009, Minoprio and his Black Match Racing team got their season off to a flying start by winning their first World Match Racing Tour event at the season opener in Marseille. Ever since then the team have been mixing it right at the top of the World Championship Standings, where they currently occupy the silver medal position.
Ironically, it's Richard, the skipper Minoprio displaced from the world #1 spot this month, who currently sits ahead of the Kiwi in the World Championship leading position. However, whereas the World Championship only includes this season's World Tour events, the Rankings take into account results from events competed in over the past 24 months and it's here Minoprio holds the edge over his French rival.
Whilst France might have lost the top spot, the French Match Racing Team looks well placed to take on Minoprio for world #1 honours for the reminder of the season. Behind world #2 Richard is Seb Col (FRA) at #3 with ISAF Nations Cup winner Damien Iehl (FRA) at #5. British double and reigning World Champion Ian Williams is the other top-five skipper at #4.
Further down the Rankings, US Virgin Islands' skipper Taylor Canfield makes impressive gains up from #100 to a career-best #57 after winning the recent ISAF Grade 3 Chicago Match Race. Another recent winner is Estonia's Mati Sepp, who is the highest new entry into the world top 100, climbing 35 places to #75 after winning the ISAF Grade 3 Tallinn Open Match Race.
Claire Leroy (FRA) remains well clear of the chasing pack at the top of the Women's ISAF World Match Race Rankings, although it's been a less than perfect month for the French skipper. Going into this year's ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Lysekil she was clear favourite to take her third consecutive World crown, but came unstuck in the semi-finals, losing out to eventual champion Nicky Souter (AUS).
Souter sprung a major surprise by taking the World Championship title in Lysekil, with the 25 year old becoming the first winner of the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship from outside of Europe and the USA. Souter hardly made a false gybe on a breezy final day at Lysekil, defeating Leroy 3-1 in the semi before sweeping past home favourite Marie Bjorling (SWE) 3-0 in the final. Souter's win elevates her up four places to #4 in this Ranking release.
Sandwiched between Leroy and Souter, another Australian Katie Spithill stays at #2, with Great Britain's Lucy MacGregor at #3. Linda Rahm of Sweden completes the world top five.
World Championship bronze medallist Anna Kjellberg gains two places to a career-best Ranking of #8, whilst Bjorling – who has now finished runner up at the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship on five occasions – continues her comeback up the Rankings, gaining 12 places up to #31.
Further down the Rankings another high-climber to watch is Russia's two-time Olympian Ekaterina Skudina. Having campaigned in the Yngling keelboat, finishing eighth in Athens and sixth in Beijing, Skudina has switched focus to match racing since its selection for the London Olympic Games and is making rapid strides in the new discipline. She scored victory at the ISAF Grade 2 Berlin Women's Match Race to jump up from #118 to #60 in this Ranking release.
The next release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings will be on 16 September 2009.
ISAF World Match Race Rankings – www.sailing.org/mrrankings