Katie Spithill And RPAYC Women's Crew Win Busan Cup: 2016 International Match Racing
Katie Spithill takes her first Busan victory
October 29, 2016
As one of the most experienced match racing skippers in the world, Australian Katie Spithill has been to every Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race since the inaugural event in 2008, except for the single year she had her daughter. But not until Saturday the 29th of October 2016 did she go all the way through to winning in Korea; over previous two-time Busan champion Lucy Macgregor of Great Britain:
“Finally, is all I can say. We’ve been here for eight years and we’re just so happy to take it home today,” the Aussie skipper cheers out, praising her crew of Alessandra Angelini, Jessica Eastwell, Kate Lathouras and Stacey Jackson from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
The waters just outside the beautiful Haeundae Beach of Korean city Busan offered the most challenging of sailing conditions, as the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race came down the wire with semi finals and final Saturday. In incredibly shifty, puffy and gusty winds, Spithill won her semi 3 – 1 over round-robin winner Claire Leroy, who may have regret her earlier choice of opponent:
“I think the key in the semis was that we had superior boat speed, especially downwind,” says Spithill.
“We made too many small mistakes, allowing them to come from behind with the gusts to overtake us” Leroy comments.
In the other semi, Lucy Macgregor faced Swedish 2016 WIM Series Champion Anna Östling, who didn’t really seem to have a chance. The World #1 was quite shamefully defeated 3 –0:
“We sailed very, very well there, and made it quite easy for ourselves. That was very pleasant,” the British skipper admits.
“As good as our day was yesterday, it was equally bad today. We didn’t get the flow at all, didn’t have the speed and made too many stupid mistakes” sighs Östling, obviously not very happy at all.
As Macgregor and Spithill met in the final, the Aussie continued her winning streak, taking the first two matches straight and clear:
“By making too many mistakes in the prestarts, I unfortunately showed I’m a little out of practise. The races were sort of done from that point,” Macgregor explains.
Nevertheless, with three match points against her, Macgregor managed to break back, taking the next two matches to force a fifth and decisive final match. From the raised position at the Haeundae Beach lighthouse, the spectators could quite easily follow the gusts as they spread over the racecourse, but for the competitors on the water it was a lot harder to keep track of the puffy and shifty winds:
“It was so shifty out there today, so it felt like it could be anyone’s race each time,” says Macgregor.
The British skipper lost the fifth match by a few boat lengths, letting Katie Spithill and her crew walk away with the victory and 20 000 USD of prize money in this 4th event of the 2016 WIM Series:
“We had the better start and were in control, but it was very hard to match the tacks because of the shifts. Overall we’re happy, but obviously it’s disappointing to not get a win in that last match. But Katie and her team sailed really well, to take that last win,” says Macgregor.
“We had some great crew work and some really smart decisions, and to be honest there were moments in there when you just had to be focused, because it was so shifty. We tried to stay in focus and just push every opportunity, and that paid,” Spithill analyses.
With enthusiasm from her win, Spithill promises:
“Given the chance we’d love to be back next year and do the whole WIM Series!”
Previous double World Champion and 2007 World Sailor of the Year, Claire Leroy, defeated Östling 2 – 0 to take the petite final and 15 000 USD:
“I think we did a great job this week and sailed very well, but not good enough to win the regatta. It was really fun to be back and see the new generation of women match racing sailors,” Claire Leroy concludes.
The next and final event on the 2016 WIM Series is the Carlos Aguilar Match Race, in St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, December 1 – 4. Anna Östling and her crew has already secured the overall WIM Series win and the coveted Terry J Kohler perpetual trophy, but behind the Swedish winners a wasp’s nest of skippers are in the run for a podium finish. Pauline Courtois (FRA), Caroline Sylvan (SWE), Stephanie Roble (USA), Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby (DEN) and Renée Groeneveld (NED) can all get their share of fame and honour, as well as a portion of the generous 50 000 USD WIM Series prize purse.