Skandia Team GBR's brand new Women's Match Racing Squad addition, 27-year-old Victoria Rawlinson, proved her talent this weekend (9-10 October) picking up her first ever National Match Racing title at the RYA Women's National Match Racing Championships held at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.
Strong winds, 20-25 knots, and a mist which cleared into bright sunshine both days, made for a physically demanding two days of competition allowing the race committee to easily fit in a full schedule of two round robin series followed by the semi-final, petit-final and championship deciding final. Endurance and focus was key among the six contesting crews with Rawlinson, and her crew, Mary Rook, Ali Martin and Holly Scott, taking it in their stride rising to the top of the pile on Sunday to claim the 2010 crown and seal their first National title.
The Poole based sailor said of her team's win: "It's a fantastic feeling to have won. It's really really inspiring and as a team we're chuffed to bits!"
It wasn't all plain sailing for the British quartet however. Sweden's Anna Kjellberg, and her crew, dominated the round robin stages winning all ten of their races to qualify for the semi-finals in pole position. But Rawlinson, learning from every race as they progressed through the two days, managed to push ahead in the final stages of the racing nailing her pre start sequences to beat Kjellberg in an enthralling climax to the event.
Rawlinson explained: "We hoped to reach the finals but the goal was really to look at the communication in the boat and to learn some of the basic match racing moves and see how we get on in a race environment together because as a team with me steering it was our first event."
"In the Round Robin stages Anna got the better of us beating us in the prestart sequences, but the races were pretty close. In the finals though we managed to win the pre-starts and once we got ahead of her we stayed in front for the rest of the races."
"It was a really great experience racing against Anna - she's a very experienced match racer and it was a great learning experience for us," she concluded.
(L-R) Rawlinson, Martin, Rook, Scott
Kjellberg finished second in the standings, Rawlinson winning both final races. Top ISAF ranked skipper at the event, French sailor Julie Bossard, finished third beating Skandia team GBR's Kate Macgregor in the petit-final in straight wins. Young 16-year-old skipper Sophie French, invited to the event after an impressive performance at the Youth Match Racing Championships, finished fifth.
Rawlinson will now be invited to compete at the RYA National Match Racing Grand final which will take place at Queen Mary Reservoir (22-24 October). The top performing British crews from the 2010 RYA National Match Racing Series will take on the top three open GBR ISAF ranked and top Women's GBR ISAF ranked skippers from July's rankings along with defending 2009 National Match Racing Champions Mark Campbell-James, as well as the winners from the Mermaid Match Racing Championships, BUSA Match Racing Championships and Ceilidh Cup, at the October final.
For further information visit www.rya.org.uk/racing and follow the links to 'Keelboat Match Racing'.
2010 RYA Womens' Match Racing Championships results
1) Victoria Rawlinson GBR
2) Anna Kjellberg SWE
3) Julie Bassard FRA
4) Kate Macgregor GBR
5) Sophie French GBR
6) Liz Jamie GBR