Women head for Staines
Not only will the winner of the final hold pole position and gain bragging rights in the JPMorgan Asset Management Women's Winter Challenge Final but the top two finishing boats will also earn a place in the JPMorgan Asset Management Winter Challenge Match Racing Finals set to be held on 10-12 March 2006.
Nine teams from six European nations will descend on Queen Mary Sailing Club, Staines to battle it out in the RYA's J/80s and with six of the teams ranked in the Women's World top 20 there will be some nail-bitingly tense racing out on the water.
Claire Leroy, the world's top ranked female match racer in the ISAF Women's Match Race rankings will lead the charge in the Grade 3 final. Leroy stormed through the same event last year to finish first and is the hot favourite to win again this weekend.
Leroy and her team from France will be closely followed by Klaartjie Zuiderbaan, ranked fifth in the world, from the Netherlands. Zuiderbaan will be accompanied by 470 World Champions, Marcelien de Koning and Jobke Berkhout who will crew throughout the series. Zuiderbaan finished third in the 2004/2005 final and will be looking to better her results this season.
Swedish helm Jenny Axhede ranked ninth will make a return to the series after competing at the second JPMorgan qualification weekend where she finished sixth.
Silke Hahlbrock of Germany will make her first appearance at the JPMorgan Asset Management Series. Ranked 14th in the ISAF rankings Hahlbrock will bring a fresh level of competition to the event.
After finishing fourth in the 2004/2005 JPMorgan Asset Management Women's Final, American Sandy Hayes and her team will be making the trip across the Atlantic to make a bid for the top slot at the final.
Great Britain will be represented by four teams including Josie Gibson and Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme member Katie Archer. Gibson took second in last year's Women's Final and is one to watch out on the water.
Also in the mix will be two Olympic hopefuls and Skandia Team GBR members. Lucy Macgregor, bowman for Shirley Robertson's Beijing 2008 campaign will lead a team, while London 2012 hopeful Gemma Farrell will put her match racing skills to the test.
Claire Leroy FRA 1
Klaartje Zuiderbaan NED 5
Jenny Axhede SWE 9
Silke Hahlbrock GER 14
Josie Gibson GBR 17
Sandy Hayes USA 18
Gemma Farrell GBR 47
Katie Archer GBR 52
Lucy Macgregor GBR 61