Local skipper wins women's match racing

Paul Lewin gains place in Bermuda Gold Cup

Tuesday October 15th 2002, Author: Dana Paxton, Location: United States
In a closely fought Final Round of the Bermuda International Women’s Match Racing Championship, Bermuda’s own Paula Lewin defeated World No. 1 Marie Bjorling of Sweden in two straight matches to win the inaugural Grade 1 event.

With the victory comes $5,000 in prize money and the ornate sterling silver 4th Squadron Cruiser Bowl. Sailing took place in International One Design class yachts on Hamilton Harbour in front of a large spectator crowd. In the Petit-Final, Klaartje Zuiderbaan of the Netherlands defeated American Debbie Willits 2-0.

“I was so nervous!” said Lewin moments after winning. “Marie is a wonderful competitor and it’s always a complete pleasure to sail against her.”

The two wins didn’t come easily to the two-time Olympian. There were times during both matches when Bjorling had an advantage and Lewin had to call on her expertise in the local boats. “The first match we kind of lost it in the pre-start,” said Lewin. “When we were accelerating to the start we had a breakdown in communication. We were actually decelerating and let Marie get ahead of us over the starting line. Three tacks later, we had gotten our heads back into the match and were in the hunt. We forced them to tack about three-quarters of the way up the leg and passed them. It was close and I never felt like I could relax.”

In the second race, Bjorling led Lewin around the twice windward-leeward course to the last weather mark. “There was absolutely no breeze and we were able to get close to her,” said Lewin. “We kept gaining on them down toward the finish and about two boatlengths from the line, forced them into a penalty and passed them to win.”

Sailing with Lewin were her twin sister, Peta, Carola Cooper, Lisa Neasham and Christine Patton.

The victory earned Lewin a berth in Round One of the Bermuda Gold Cup, beginning on Wednesday. She will pair up against Lars Nordbjerg of Denmark, who is currently ranked seventh on the Swedish Match Tour. Bjorling also gained a berth and will face her hometown rival Matthias Rahm.

Results: Final, October 15:
Skipper, Hometown, Finish Overall

1. Paula Lewin (Paget, Bermuda)
2. Marie Bjorling (Frolunda, Sweden)
3. Klaartje Zuiderbaan (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
4. Deborah Willits (Houston, Texas, USA)
5. Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen (Virum, Denmark)
6. Elizabeth Kratzig (Corpus Christi, Texas, USA)
7. Liz Baylis (San Rafael, Calif., USA)
8. Sandy Hayes (Scituate, Mass., USA)

Final Round Results:
Match 1 P.Lewin def. M. Bjorling
Match 2 P. Lewin def. M. Bjorling

Petit-Final Round:
Match 1 K. Zuiderbaan def. D. Willits
Match 2 K. Zuiderbaan def. D. Willits

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