New Zealand qualifies for 2012 Olympic place in Womens Match Racing

Stephanie Hazard, Jenna Hansen, Susannah Pyatt, Match Racing December 13, 2011 off Fremantle, Australia.
Alastair Hyde-Tetley/Perth 2011

The New Zealand crew of Stephanie Hazard, Jenna Hansen and Susannah Pyatt have qualified New Zealand for the 2012 Olympics in the Womens Match Racing event, being sailed at the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Fremantle.

The young crew finished as sixth qualifier out of the eight to be chosen at the ISAF Worlds. Although Great Britain finished ahead, as hosts they are automatically in the event. Australia were the fifth qualifiers, and Sweden the seventh.

The qualification is a huge turn around in the fortunes of the New Zealand Womens crew, after they were not selected for the 2011 Olympic Test Event in Weymouth in September.

Although they attended Weymouth as spectators the Koru Match crew have since been training with several of the top crews and have lifted their performance considerably. They fought doggedly for their sixth place qualification spot.

The crew had to sail a total of 15 matches to earn the qualification returning a nine win and six loss scorecard. It was not sufficient for them to move to the eight boat quarter-final round - they missed this cut on the application of a tie break. In the World Championships countries are allowed up to two entries, while the Olympics only permit one entry per country. A total of 29 competitors were entered in this event in the 2011 World Championships.

The world championship is being sailed in the New Zealand designed Elliott 6 metre class, and will compete for the first and last time at the 2012 Olympics. Although a new event on the Olympic sailing calendar, the Womens Match Racing has proved to be viable and excellent event but will be replaced with the Womens High Performance Skiff in the 2016 Olympics and the Mixed Multihull - both are new Olympic events.

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