In the Buddy Melges Challenge, the third event of the 2016 WIM Series, the Swedes defeated Anne-Claire Le Berre, Mathilde Geron and Alice Ponsar of France, in a thrilling final over five exciting matches on Lake Michigan, "They had us under extreme pressure during four fierce fights, and it wasn't until the very last match we were allowed to breathe, but then just a bit" says Östling.
Their room to breathe a little came in handy in the fifth match, when they managed to force the French over early to the course side of the starting line. Le Berre had to turn back behind the line, and the Swedes took advantage of that situation to gain a lead they would keep throughout the match, "I'm exhausted right now, but very, very happy. We've been fighting so hard for this the last few days, it's been really crazy. When we woke up this morning we felt very strong," Östling comments.
Anna Östling took her first World Championship gold in Cork, Ireland, in 2014, and this year's medal is a milestone in a very successful year so far. Her Sheboygan triumph is her third consecutive WIM Series victory, after winning earlier in Helsinki, Finland, as well as in Lysekil, Sweden. With this result Team Anna stretches their WIM Series lead further, as only the regattas in Busan, South Korea, and St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, remain, "Our World Championship gold is one more step towards this year's big goal for us; to win the WIM Series. This year we've found calm and focus in our crew as never before, so we're definitely prepared for becoming the overall winners," says Östling.
After a maternity leave of almost one year, Anne-Claire Le Berre came back to the WIM Series just for this World Championship, aiming for the final and for a medal to put around her neck. This time it's silver, but the gold wasn't very far away, "My girls did a very good job to keep the speed up, and I'm not sure more advance practise would have helped us today. We made a few more mistakes than Anna, and that cost. Now we're looking forward to the next event in South Korea," says Le Berre.
The petite final saw the two top teams from the round-robin stage battling it out for third place and the Women's Match Racing World Championship bronze medals. After three incredibly tight matches, with schoolbook match racing containing several lead changes, spectacular mark roundings and stunning manoeuvres, Renée Groeneveld proved to be the strongest skipper at the end. Her Dutch team of Lobke Berkhout and Mijke Lievens beat American Epic Racing, with skipper Stephanie Roble and crew Maggie Shea and Janel Zarkowsky, 2 - 1, "We had a couple of split starts where we got away very good, allowing us to play our game. We crossed to the right side and defended it, but today it was really hard to stay in front while leading," Groeneveld explains.
Roble & Co won the round-robin stage 14 - 2, looking very strong up until the final day of racing on their home waters of Lake Michigan. Fourth place in the regatta was certainly not what the reigning WIM Series champion had hoped for, but Stephanie Roble concealed her disappointment well, "We had really close racing all day, and I'm pretty sure all of the four teams could have won. It was a tough day and everyone raced very well, but unfortunately we made more mistakes than the others," she concludes.
Results of the Buddy Melges Challenge in Sheboygan, USA, the 3rd event of the 2016 WIM Series and also the Women's World Match Racing Championship (skipper, crew, country, WIM Series points, prize money):
1. Anna Östling, Annie Wennergren, Linnea Wennergren, SWE, 25, 2 600 USD
2. Anne-Claire Le Berre, Mathilde Geron, Alice Ponsar, FRA, 22, 1 600 USD
3. Renée Groeneveld, Lobke Berkhout, Mijke Lievens, NED, 20, 1 300 USD
4. Stephanie Roble, Maggie Shea, Janel Zarkowsky, USA, 18, 1 100 USD
5. Caroline Sylvan, Louise Kruuse af Verchou, Frida Langenius, SWE, 16, 1 000 USD
6. Samantha Norman, Carla Holgate, Taylor Holland, NZL, 14, 900 USD
7. Pauline Courtois, Jeanne Courtois, Juliette Le Friec, FRA, 12, 800 USD
8. Nicole Breault, Molly Carapiet, Karen Loutzenheiser, USA, 10, 700 USD
9. Elizabeth Shaw, Madeline Gill, Malin Holmberg, CAN, 8, 0 USD
Results in the final:
Anna Östling, SWE - Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 3 - 2
Results in the petite final:
Renée Groeneveld, NED - Stephanie Roble, USA, 2 - 1
Semi final results:
Stephanie Roble, USA - Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 1 - 3
Anna Östling, SWE - Renée Groeneveld, NED, 3 - 1
Standings in the 2016 WIM Series after three events out of five (skipper, country, WIM Series points):
1. Anna Östling, SWE, 75
2. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 48
3. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 48
4. Stephanie Roble, USA, 40
5. Renée Groeneveld, NED, 40
6. Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby, DEN, 38
7. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 22
8. Marinella Laaksonen, FIN, 21
9. Lotte Meldgaard, DEN, 18
10. Samantha Norman, NZL, 14
11. Sanna Häger, SWE, 14
12. Alexa Bezel, SUI, 12
13. Rikst Dijkstra, NED, 12
14. Nicole Breault, USA, 10
15. Johanna Bergqvist, SWE, 10
16. Antonia Degerlund, FIN, 10
17. Elizabeth Shaw, CAN, 8
18. Susanna Kukkonen FIN, 8
19. Diana Kissane, IRL, 7
20. Sanna Mattsson, SWE, 5