London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition - Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain
It will be a do or die for twelve womens match racing teams from 29 July to 11 August as the cutthroat nature of match racing is displayed at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Silja Lehtinen (FIN) comes into London 2012 fresh from a victory at the 2012 ISAF Womens Match Racing Worlds in Gothenburg, Sweden but the Finnish match racer had somewhat of a mixed 12 months prior.
Lehtinen missed out on Olympic qualification at the 2011 ISAF Worlds in Perth, Australia despite a fantastic opening day. She bounced back to qualify her nation at the final qualification regatta in Florida, USA in February but had mixed results throughout the ISAF Sailing World Cup. But an emphatic 3-0 victory over Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) in the Gothenburg final shows she can hit it when it really matters.
World #1 in the womens match racing rankings Tunnicliffe has held top spot since September 2011 and has proved she is a force to be reckoned with. Having won gold in the Laser Radial at Beijing 2008 Tunnicliffe has made a seamless transition over to womens match racing and has won eight events since June 2011, including the 2011 Womens Match Racing Worlds. All of the teams will have to step their game up if Tunnicliffe is to be toppled.
Claire Leroy (FRA) made her first appearance on the match racing scene in April 2002 and has made ten appearances at the Womens Match Racing Worlds. Leroy won the event in 2007 and 2008 and has racked up plenty of match racing miles. Her experience will prove vital as tensions and pressure mount on the course.
One of the most exciting prospects comes from Australia in the form of Olivia Price. The Australian will turn 20 midway through the Olympic Sailing Competition and her progression up the womens match racing rankings has been rapid. With regatta victories on Olympic waters and a third place as crew with Nicky Souter at the Womens Worlds in 2010 shes a hot contender for a podium finish.
Further challenges for podium finishes will come from Russias Ekaterina Skudina and World #2 Lucy Macgregor (GBR) who despite a lack of form both have what it takes to mix it with the best.
Lotte Pedersen (DEN), Renee Groeneveld (NED), Stephanie Hazard (NZL), Rita Goncalves (POR), Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) and Anna Kjellberg (SWE) make up the rest of the competitors but have yet to demonstrate the consistent performances shown by the favourites.
Womens Match Racing commences on 29 July and rounds off the Olympic Sailing Competition on 11 August with the Petit Final and Final in front of the Nothe spectator area.
Written by ISAF
(From the ISAF website: www.sailing.org)