Spithill sister clinches women's title

An update from the women's racing at Match Cup Sweden

Sunday July 5th 2009, Author: Dobbs Davis, Location: United Kingdom
Day 5 of Match Cup Sweden was ladies day with the Women’s semi’s and finals scheduled. The fantastic weather continued today with a 10-12 knot sea breeze from the WNW which enabled a course to be laid right in the middle of Marstrand fijord in front of the VIP pavilion and the masses of spectators who swarmed all over the rocks. Katie Spithill emerged victorious after a five match slug fest which saw Katie Spithill come back from two nil down to snatch victory by less than a metre.

The semi finals started just after 10am and both went to 3-1 with Anna Kjellebrg (SWE) and Katie Spithill (AUS) outclassing their opponents. In the matches between Anna Kjellberg and Linda Rahm (SWE), Rahm started out well with a lead in the first but was soon overhauled by Kjellberg on the downwind, Rahm came back with a win in the second but in the third and fourth matches although it was close Kjellberg had a little extra something to make it to the final. In the Lucy McGregor (GBR) vs Katie Spithill (AUS) head to head, both teams had great opportunities to advance to the final with many lead changes throughout the competition. Spithill capitalized on every opportunity she was handed and with some smart and fast sailing set up a meeting with local favourite Anna Kjellberg.

In the Petit Final Linda Rahm (SWE) handed a master class to Lucy McGregor (GBR) beating her in the first by over 10 boat lengths and in the second match Rahm put two pre-start penalties on McGregor and then kept a loose cover on her to the finish 5 lengths ahead and take 3rd place.

Finals flight one saw a big pre-start scuffle. Spithill got the upper hand by pressing Kjellberg in the lead up to the start which resulted in Kjellberg shooting over the line early. A tack around and a re-start gave Spithill a big lead. Kjellberg was not about to give up and battled back playing the shifts and showing awesome boat speed. By the first mark Kjellberg had worked her way to the right of Spithill and as they came together Kjellberg dialed Spithill down then dived around the mark ahead by half a boat length. From then on Kjellberg was never bothered and extended her lead to over 10 lengths. Spithill must have been left thinking what happened.

In flight two it was Kjellberg’s turn to lead the way crossing the line first and getting a cover onto Spithill from the start. At mark one it was Kjellberg ahead but with Spithill breathing down her neck. Kjellberg held her nerve and rounded mark two by a boat length. Kjellberg continued to extend her lead to go to match point.

The third flight started on split tacks, Spithill on the left at pace and Kjellberg shooting to get around the starboard mark. Spithill pounced on the opportunity to get ahead and led around the track never giving Kjellberg the chance to get back into the race.

The fourth flight began with a classic dial-up and at the start both boats were over. Spithill was on the right and after both boats came back together Kjellberg received a penalty for tacking too close to Spithill. There was a close tacking duel upwind and the boats rounded mark one of the three lap race overlapped. Downwind Kjellberg attacked and got into a rolling position but Spithill defended well forcing Kjellebrg wide of the mark and retained the lead. Spithill sailed the shifts on the second beat and run eking out a three length lead. Kjellberg tacked immediately round the fourth mark but a bad tack by Spithill meant that Kjellberg was able to wriggle free of Spithills vice-like grip and claim the power of the right. Kjellberg used it well and after a furious tacking duel rounded the final mark ahead by a nose. With a penalty outstanding Kjellberg’s only choice was to slow down and try and offload the penalty by forcing Spithill into an error. Spithill stayed calm and when the opportunity arose she dived for the line rolling over the top of Kjellberg to take it to a fifth race decider.

And what a decider it was. After an even start it was nip and tuck for the first two laps with both teams fighting hard to press home the advantage. As they came around the last leeward mark Kjellberg tacked first and the ensuing tacking duel up the final beat saw Kjellberg edging back into the race and forcing Spithill off to the left each time. At the top of the beat Kjellberg misjudged the layline and Spithill tacked under her lee bow and then extended towards the mark rounding inches ahead. Kjellberg came back down the run sailing higher and faster eating up the gap between them and then gybing to starboard and forcing Spithill to gybe, Kjellberg luffed but Spithill kept clear in the windward position and started to roll. Kjellberg held her lane and pushed Spithill across the course before gybing for what she thought was the closest end of the line. A fumbled gybe onboard Kjellbergs boat gave Spithill the chance to lunge for the line and even a desperate gybe back onto starboard by Kjellberg to force Spithill into an error couldn’t stop the Australian from breaking the line with her spinnaker first.

An eleated Katie Spithill congratulated her crew of Sam Boyd, Jess Eastwell, Olivia Price, Nicole Douglas and Stacey Jackson adding that: “This is totally unbelievable, I really hasn’t sunk in yet. The crew have just done a fantastic job this week. Today was all about how to race the boats, learning from Anna who gave us such a beating in the first race we had to work out fast how to match her.”

Tomorrow will see the men take to the water for their semi finals and finals. Mathieu Richard (FRA) stepped up to the plate and chose to face Sebastien Col (FRA) in the semi’s leaving Peter Gilmour (FRA) to face Damien Iehl (FRA). Richard decided not to choose Iehl for personal reasons but would not elaborate as to why leaving him with a Hobson’s choice of Col or Gilmour, the world number one or the six time champion. Weather forecasters are predicting overnight change with the possibility of some showers. No matter what the weather brings sparks are sure to fly here in Marstrand.

Semi Final Results
Anna Kjellberg (SWE) v Linda Rahm (SWE) 3-1
Katie Spithill (AUS) v Lucy McGregor (GBR) 3-1

Petit Final
Linda Rahm (SWE) v Lucy McGregor (GBR) 2-0

Katie Spithill (AUS) v Anna Kjellberg (SWE) 3-2

Match Cup World Match Racing Tour Semi Final
Mathieu Richard v Sebastien Col (FRA)
Peter Gilmour v Damien Iehl (FRA)

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