Women's Match Race Country Qualifier preview – Battle for final spots

by WIMRA 
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Women's Match Race Country Qualifier, run by Sail Sheboygan, WIMRA and Key Biscayne Yacht Club, is being held between 2nd and 5th February 2012.

The 2011 Women's Match World Championship qualified eight countries to send a team to the Olympics. Those countries are Australia, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Russia and USA. GBR, as host country, is also given a berth. That leaves three open slots.

Teams from nine countries will come together to compete to qualify their country for one of those final spots. The countries still vying to qualify are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Spain and Slovenia. Seven of the nine countries have already nominated a skipper, while Canada and Brazil will use the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta to determine their skipper.

Representing their countries will be:
Argentina - Martina Silva, ranked 29th in the latest ISAF rankings
Brazil - Either Renata Decnop, who finished 17th overall at the Perth Worlds, or Juliana Senfft, who is ISAF ranked 16th in the world.
Canada - Sharon Ferris-Choat, currently ranked number 36 by ISAF or Jinnie Gordon
China - Ru Wang, currently ranked number 32, and finished 21st in Perth
Denmark - Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, a veteran on the women's match race circuit, finishing 16th in Perth, and currently ranked number 30 by ISAF
Finland - Silja Lehtinen, 14th in Perth, and ranked number 9 by ISAF
Germany - Silke Hahlbrock, ranked number 20 by ISAF and finished 18th in Perth
Spain - Tamara Echegoyan, finished 12th in Perth (9th country overall), ranked by ISAF at number 8
Slovenia - Vesna Dekleva Paoli, ranked number 24 by ISAF, finishing 19th in Perth

The race format will be a single round robin (everyone races each other once), cutting the nine to six. Any ties for the cut off will be determined by sail-offs on the water to make sure the tie breaks are made by racing. After the cut, there will be a double round robin (skippers race each other twice), to narrow the field to the final four.

The final four will then race in a knock-out series to determine the final four places, the three countries who will qualify, and the first alternate.

The qualifier promises to deliver spectacular racing. Most of the teams will have just come off seven days of racing in the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, so they will be at the top of their game and familiar with the boats and the waters.

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