The RNZYS sponsored New Zealand Women’s Match Racing Team made up of RNZYS YTP graduates & RNZYS sailors Celia Willison, Charlotte Porter, Paige Cook, Alison Kent and Erica Dawson will line up against 12 other teams when four days of match racing starts tonight in Helsinki (NZ time).

“We can’t wait to start racing and see how we go against these great female teams.” “We don’t know how the first one will go so we will give it our all and reassess from there. We hope our team has a future,” Willison said.

“One team is ranked third in the world and there are lots of older women who have been doing it for yonks, so it will be good to see how we go against them. There are also a couple of younger teams like us. If we can finish in the top half, that would be great.”

Willison, who helms the crew, is presently ranked 44th in the world after two ranking regattas. The 19-year-old was part of the winning team who won this year’s Hardy Cup at the Youth Match Racing Regatta in Sydney and last year helmed the crew that placed third at the Marianassess Women’s Match Racing Regatta, also in Sydney.

Willison is part of the current RNZYS Youth Training Programme and spends her weekends and many weeknights training on the water by RNZYS with her team, and it is good to see her great dedication to sailing starting to pay off as she attends and succeeds at big events overseas.

Charlotte Porter (main) and Paige Cook (trim), both products of the RNZYS YTP – both have experience racing in the WIM Series and Cook and Kent (bow) have sailed recently with the Magenta Project, who are committed to creating equal access and opportunities for women in sailing. Dawson is best known as a women’s skiff sailor but has also got into keelboat racing at the RNZYS to broaden her skills.

The team have been working with Reuben Corbett, who was ranked among the world’s top 10 match racers and is now leading our  world-renowned youth training programme. Corbett has been helping them with their starts as well as a few set plays.

“I’m really excited for the girls to head over to this event in Finland. They have been working really hard over the past few months and deserve a chance at racing the best female sailors in the world. I cant wait to see how they go on the world stage.” – Reuben Corbett 

“It’s been absolutely incredible working with him,” Willison said. “Things are starting to come together as a team and it’s really exciting to see what we can do.”

A good result might encourage the girls to look at doing September’s Australian Women’s National Championships, the NZ Womens Match Racing Championships, NZ Womens Keelboat Championships and the NZ Match Racing Championships later this year (early next year). 

“We’ll try to keep the team together and look to learn as much as we can in Finland.”

This year marks the sixth consecutive season of the WIM Series, the world’s first and only women’s professional sailing series founded in 2012. The  team will contest only the Finland leg of the series – others will be in Sweden, Russia and the US Virgin Islands – but Willison hopes it’s something they do more regularly as more opportunities open up.

The Helsinki Women’s Match is raced in the J80 Class and the first day of racing is June 26th with the first race planned for 10.00 am local time (7pm NZT). The first two race days will see a full round robin where eight teams advance to the knockout stage. The final and petite final will be raced on Friday June 29th.

Teams Competing in the 2018 Helsinki Women’s Match:

Match in Pink by Normandy Elite Team
Pauline Courtois, Maëlenn Lemaître, Louise Acker, Nathalie Corson , Sophie​ Faguet – France
Current World Sailing Ranking:  2

L2 Match Racing Team
Marinella Laaksonen, Daniela Rönnberg, Camilla Cedercreutz, Henna Holopainen, Eva-Lotta Hokkonen – Finland
Current World Sailing Ranking: 4

Team Kattnakken
Trine Palludan, Lea Richter Vogelius, Josefine Boel Rasmussen, Vivi Lund Møller, Joan Vestergård Hansen – Denmark
Current World Sailing Ranking: 5

Team Bergqvist Match Racing
Johanna Bergqvist, Isabelle Bergqvist, Johanna Thiringer, Ellinor Hansson, Fanny Edgren – Sweden
Current World Sailing Ranking: 7

Team Sköna Vibbisar
Antonia Degerlund, Carla Westersund, Janina Hallberg, Disa Långström, Lisa Gerkman – Finland
Current World Sailing Ranking: 9

Stockholm Match Racing Team
Sanna Häger, Karin Bäckström, Beata Törneman, Klara Häger, Karin Flinkenberg – Sweden
Current World Sailing Ranking: 11

Team Skogman
Jassi Skogman, Julia Jaatela, Tua Jaatela, Katariina Aarnio, Roosa Wederhorn – Finland
Current World Sailing Ranking: 16

Matchmoiselles by Normandy Elite Team
Margot Vennin, Marie Zugolaro, Clotilde Ponçon, Jeanne Lebouvier, Sophonie Affagard – France
Current World Sailing Ranking: 18

Swedish Women’s Match Racing Team
Sanna Mattsson, Niki Blässar, Sarah Rosell, Therese Berg, Louise Lindkvist – Sweden
Current World Sailing Ranking: 19

APCC Women Sailing Team 
Margot Riou, Clémentine Hilaire, Marion Ledoux, Pétronille Lauzeral, Tiphaine Ragueneau – France
Current World Sailing Ranking: 20

Team BAAM!
Allie Blecher, Beka Schiff, Katja Sertl, Abby Featherstone, Meg Six – USA
Current World Sailing Ranking: 41

NZ Match
Celia Willison, Charlotte Porter, Paige Cook, Erica Dawson, Alison Kent – New Zealand
Current World Sailing Ranking: 44

Peregrine Racing
Hanna Ericksson, Susu Kukkonen, Sara Edholm, Charlotte Eklund, Raisa Räisänen – Sweden
Current World Sailing Ranking: unranked

Results and more information on this WIM Series Event in Helsinki can be found HERE

Follow the NZ Women’s Match Race Team on Facebook HERE

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