Samantha Norman representing RNZYS at the Women’s Match Racing Worlds in Sheboygan


27 sailors to fight for gold medals at the Women’s Match Racing Worlds 

The World Sailing Women’s Match Racing World Championship is an annual event that was first held in Genoa, Italy, in 1999, after a successful event was held as part of the 1998 ISAF Sailing World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The winner in Dubai, American Betsy Alison, had to settle for second place in 1999, with Dorte O Jensen of Denmark scoring her first of three consecutive World titles. In 2006 Dorte O Jensen won again, and is with her four titles the most victorious Women’s Match Racing World Championship skipper ever.

The 2015 World Champion Lotte Meldgaard of Denmark will not be in Sheboygan to defend her title. Swedish skipper Anna Östling is in fact the only previous Women’s Match Racing World Champion to come to this year’s event, if 2002 World Champion Liz Baylis is not to be counted. However, Baylis is no longer on the starting line, but nowadays part of the management team for the regatta as well as chair of the World Sailing Match Racing Committee:
“Sheboygan offers a unique venue for the World Championship – the first fresh water venue to host the Women’s Match Racing World Championship. Although it is “lake sailing”, Lake Michigan is the size of many seas and when the wind whips up the waves can get big and the conditions challenging” she comments.

Racing takes place from September 21 – 25. More on the regatta here:

Skippers in the Women’s Match Racing World Championship and Buddy Melges Challenge, the third event of the 2016 WIM Series, in Sheboygan, USA (name, nationality, world ranking):

Anna Östling, SWE, 1
She started match racing on foredeck, but 32 years old Anna Östling of the Royal Gothenburg YC found her interest in helming rise. After her Olympic debut in Weymouth2012, she finished second in the 2013 inaugural WIM Series. In 2014 Anna became a mother for the first time, and just a few weeks later she took the World Championship title. She finished runner-up in the 2014 WIM Series, and has taken a firm grip on the 2016 WIM Series by winning the first two events. Anna is ranked World #1.

Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 3
33 years old Anne-Claire Le Berre from Brest on the Atlantic coast of France is back on WIM Series after a short maternity leave. She’s been into match racing since 2005, with several triumphs in Grade 1-events, and is the reigning national match racing champion after consecutive wins in 2014 and 2015. Anne-Claire finished last year with a win in Busan, for a podium position on the 2015 WIM Series. She’s also done an Olympic campaign in the Yngling, and is not only a very skilled sailor, but also a naval architect.

Stephanie Roble, USA, 4
26 years old Stephanie Roble started sailing dinghies and scows out of Lake Beulah YC. Later she picked up match racing, and together with Maggie Shea she became in 2012 the first woman to win both the US Women’s and the Open Match Racing Championships. In 2014 Stephanie Roble won the Etchells Worlds and the US Women’s Match Racing Championships. 2014 and 2015 she finished third in the World Championships, and last year she and her Epic Racing Team took the WIM Series title.

Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 5
As “everybody else” in Sweden, 27 years old Caroline Sylvan began her sailing career in the Optimist and Europe dinghies, participating in Nordic and European as well as World Championships. After twice becoming national champion in Laser Radial, she began match racing in 2010 and immediately won the Youth National Championships. In 2012 Caroline reached the podium in the European Championships, and last year she took her second consecutive fourth place in Lysekil and finished fifth on the WIM Series.

Pauline Courtois, FRA, 6
27 years old sport teacher Pauline Courtois from Brest started sailing at seven and racing at nine. She has been in match racing on different positions since 2011. In 2013 she finished runner-up when calling the tactics for Julie Bossard in the WIM Series event in Saint-Quay-Portrieux, and took a bronze medal in the national championships. Pauline made her skipper debut on the WIM Series in 2014, and opened the 2016 WIM Series season as runner-up in Helsinki in June, followed by sixth place in Lysekil in August.

Renée Groeneveld, NED, 8
In the 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth, now 29 years old Renée from Haarlemsche Jachtclub close to Amsterdam, reached the quarter finals. After a break from match racing since then, the Dutch skipper made her debut on WIM Series last year, posting fourth places in Sheboygan and Busan. At the 2016 opening event in Helsinki she reached the podium, and is now aiming for the top spot in the World Championship in Sheboygan. When not sailing, Renée looks after customer service and planning at Vopak.

Nicole Breault, USA, 15
A history teacher with a Masters in Teaching and a Masters in Education, and a tutoring practice called the Salty Professor, 44 years old Nicole Breault from the St. Francis Yacht Club also finds some time to go match racing. At the beginning of her career she did bow or main and tactics, but nowadays she’s a successful helmsman. In 2015 Nicole won the US Women’s Match Racing Championship in Newport, as well as the prestigious Nations Cup in Vladivostok, Russia. Sheboygan is her first 2016 WIM Series event.

Samantha Norman, NZL, 41
Representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, 29 years old physiotherapist Samantha sailed a lot of match racing in 2005 – 2011. She won the inaugural Buddy Melges Challenge in 2009 and finished runner-up the year after. After a long break from sailing, she’s come back to match racing this year, winning the national championship in Waitemata Harbour. The Women’s Match Racing World Championship in Sheboygan will be her WIM Series debut. Kite surfing is Samantha’s favourite nowadays.

Elizabeth Shaw, CAN, –
As crew for Stephanie Roble’s Epic Racing, Elizabeth from Oakcliff Sailing won the 2015 WIM Series, and finished runner-up in the last event in Lysekil, Sweden. In this year’s Women’s Match Racing World Championship in Sheboygan, she will for the first time on the WIM Series helm her own team. Shaw has gained a lot of experience from many dinghy classes, as well as from one design racing and offshore boats. After Sheboygan she’s aiming to defend the WIM series title with the American Epic Racing team.

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