Jury and LeRoy come out on top
Laurie Jury (NZL) and Claire Leroy (FRA) won the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final Open and Women’s division in racing marked by strong winds and big waves in Sheboygan, USA.
Sunday’s conditions were brisk, with a strong onshore southeast 15- to 18-knot breeze with gusts to 20, and the seas built to 3 to 6 feet, with larger breaking waves roaring through the starting area, putting boat handling at a premium.
“I was so impressed with how well the sailors handled the conditions, especially Claire in the final pre-start,” said Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio, who also took his fair share of green water over the race committee boat. “It was incredible boat-handling by the sailors in the breaking waves.”
Claire Leroy (FRA) went 3-0 against Rita Goncalves (POR) in the women’s division, sailed in Elliott 6ms. This is the third straight Nations Cup win for Leroy, a first in event history.
“We weren’t sure how well we would sail, with Elodie recently injured during training in Chicago,” Leroy said. “It was important for us to do well in the race, but to win was the cherry on the cake.”
“It was breath taking, but really demanding conditions. I was very impressed with how well the sailors handled the boats in the rough conditions,” said ISAF President Goran Petersson, who watched the final racing on the water. “It is really unique in the history of the Nations Cup to have a three-time winner. Very well done for Claire.”
Leroy appreciated the rough conditions that may be similar to those found in Weymouth, Great Britain, during the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. “We expected the lake to be light air, not like an ocean,” Leroy said. “We learned a lot about sailing the boat in heavy weather.”
Heavy weather picks up the pace of match racing tactics and raises the stakes for penalties, making them easier to incur and harder to clear because the competition stays so close, which were revealed in the final race of the open division.
With a 2-1 lead going into race four of the open division sailed in Sonars, Jury sailed clean while top-seeded Mads Ebler (DEN) was able to clear his first penalty, but received another at the final top mark during a luffing match. Jury was able to sail ahead to the finish to win.
“We are really excited to have won the Nations Cup. It is our first Grade 1 win,” said Jury, who is on a match racing streak, winning the U.S. Grand Slam Match Race Series consisting of four grade two events. “It was really tough to get here. We had to win against the best top-ranked New Zealand and Australia match racers.”
In the Petit Final for third and fourth place, Olivia Price (AUS) won 2-1 over Mandy Mulder (NED) in the women’s division. In the open division, it was Henrique Haddad (BRA) who claimed third place after winning 2-0 against Lucy Macgregor (GBR).
“We are very pleased with how well Sail Sheboygan, Sheboygan Yacht Club and the City of Sheboygan prepared for this event,” said Henry Menin, Chairman of the ISAF Match Racing Committee. “It was superb conditions, and the equipment held up so well in the challenging conditions. It is an example to other organizations on just how to run a match racing event.”
“I was very impressed how much the community was able to watch the races. Not many places can do that,” Petersson said. “Every one was so nice in Wisconsin. When you come down to it, it is about the people who make a successful sailing program and event.”
A closing ceremony awarding the Nations Cup trophies was held at Blue Harbor Resort in the afternoon. “We congratulate the winners of the Nations Cup,” Sail Sheboygan Executive Director Richard Reichelsdorfer said. “Every race organiser hopes for great conditions and great competitors. We had both.”