The Carlos Aguilar Match Race, presented by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism and the fifth and final event of the 2016 Women’s International Match Racing (WIM) Series, starts in little over a week in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Swedish World Champion, Anna Östling, has already secured the overall WIM Series title, but behind her is a hornet’s nest of skippers in the run for a podium finish. One of these is the USA’s Stephanie Roble, who has raced in this venue four times.
“We are excited to have a close race for second overall and ready to battle,” says Roble, 2015 WIM Series winner.
Since its start in 2013, WIM Series events have taken place in many major sailing venues worldwide. This is the first time this first and only professional sailing series for women will be hosted in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Specifically, the island of St. Thomas will welcome a dozen of the worlds’ foremost women match racing sailors, to its picturesque capitol of Charlotte Amalie and the demanding waters of its harbor.
The Carlos Aguilar Match Race (CAMR) has attracted some of the best international match racing talent since its inception in 2008, from America’s Cup veterans to current World Champions, and organizers are definitely qualified and ready to host the exciting conclusion to the 2016 WIM Series.
Early WIM Series winner Anna Östling and her team secured their title, pocketed US $25,000 and earned their named engraved on the coveted Terry J Kohler Perpetual Trophy by winning the first three 2016 WIM Series events and finishing fourth in the latest regatta in Korea in October. However, behind the Swedes are a group of five teams that are all in contention for the runner-up position and the reward of US $15,000. These are Pauline Courtois (FRA), Caroline Sylvan (SWE), Stephanie Roble (USA), Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby (DEN) and Renée Groeneveld (NED). In addition, the winner of the CAMR WIM Series event earns a US $10, 000 portion of the generous overall prize purse, so there are actually two chances left to top-up the team budget with an early Christmas gift.
Former number one world ranked skipper Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby has recently given birth to her second child, and will be substituted for in St Thomas by Trine Palludan, who also led the Danish team to fifth place last month in Korea.
“The ultimate event will be really challenging, with five skilled teams still having the chance to finish second overall. We have no secret weapons, but a lot of experience with many podium finishes in the past. We know each other very well, and we know how to perform,” says Danish skipper Palludan, who revealed her tip on this year’s CAMR winner. “Stephanie Roble must be considered a favorite, knowing the boats and the course area. At least if she’s not getting too nervous about it.”
In the 2015 CAMR, Roble and her Team Epic Racing finished second overall to the USVI’s Taylor Canfield, currently the world’s number one ranked Open match racer. Since the Korean WIM Series event in late October, Roble has been enjoying time at home, focusing on training in the gym and doing some 49er FX sailing with main sheet trimmer and tactician Maggie Shea. Now the American skipper is looking forward to round out her competitive sailing season in St Thomas:
“Because we have done this event so much and we have a lot of friends on the island, it definitely feels like a second home,” she says, adding that the venue is fun and challenging with tricky winds. “The racecourse parallels the sea wall that runs the length of the course. Being in the harbor it is super shifty and lots of traffic, including seaplanes landing nearby, and spectators. You are never out of a race, nor are you ever safe with your lead.”
The CAMR WIM Series finale is a World Sailing Grade One event. The format features a full round robin of all teams, followed by knockout quarterfinals for the top eight, and then knockout semi-finals, petit-finals and finals. The event will be sailed in the IC24, a modification of J/24, on December 1– 4, 2016.
The Virgin Islands Sailing Association (VISA) and St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) are the organizing authorities for the CAMR, namesake for the late Carlos Aguilar, who was an avid sailor and loved match racing. Sponsors for the CAMR include the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; Heineken and Captain Morgan, distributed by Bellows International; Yacht Haven Grande; K3; International Capital & Management Company; Auven Therapeutics; John and Claire Foster; XO Energy; the Prior Family Foundation; Ballerina Jewelers, St. Thomas and St. John; AH Riise, Official Rolex Retailer, U.S. and British Virgin Islands; Self Insurance Consultants, Inc.; and VINow.com
Current standings in the 2016 WIM Series after four events out of five (skipper, country, WIM Series points):
1. Anna Östling, SWE, 93
2. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 60
3. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 58
4. Stephanie Roble, USA, 54
5. Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby, DEN, 54
6. Renée Groeneveld, NED, 49
7. Katie Spithill, AUS, 25
8. Lucy Macgregor, GBR, 22
9. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 22
10. Marinella Laaksonen, FIN, 21
11. Claire Leroy, FRA, 20
12. Lotte Meldgaard, DEN, 18
13. Samantha Norman, NZL, 14
14. Sanna Häger, SWE, 14
15. Diana Kissane, IRL, 14
16. Alexa Bezel, SUI, 12
17. Rikst Dijkstra, NED, 12
18. Nicole Breault, USA, 10
19. Johanna Bergqvist, SWE, 10
20. Antonia Degerlund, FIN, 10
21. Elizabeth Shaw, CAN, 8
22. Susanna Kukkonen FIN, 8
23. Milly Bennett, AUS, 6
24. Gyeong Jin Lee, KOR, 5
25. Sanna Mattsson, SWE, 5