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Ocean Elements 2018

2016 WIM Series Buddy Melges Challenge - Day 3

by Joakim Hermansson 24 Sep 2016 07:21 BST 21-25 September 2016
Stephanie Roble and her Epic Racing (left) are leading the Buddy Melges Challenge © Niklas Axhede / WIM Series

Stephanie Roble is leading on her home waters

Defeated World #1 Anna Östling of Sweden twice

The Buddy Melges Challenge, the 3rd event of the 2016 WIM Series and also the Women's World Match Racing Championship, finally got underway Friday. With a dozen flights sailed, Wisconsinite Stephanie Roble has taken the lead on her home waters of Lake Michigan: "We had a lot of fun and some really close matches today" she smiles.

Two days with no racing in Sheboygan, due to fog and very shifty or no wind at all, really put the sailors to the test, wandering around on shore longing for wind and waves. But as the sun rose over Lake Michigan on Friday morning, a stable northerly breeze around 12 – 14 knots filled the racecourse just east of the Sheboygan South Pier: "That was certainly worth waiting for" says World Sailing Technical Delegate Alfredo Ricci from Italy, in USA for the week to supervise the event.

The race management used the excellent sailing conditions to make up for the lost days, completing as many as a dozen flights of four matches each.

Local hope Stephanie Roble and her Epic Racing crew of Maggie Shea and Janel Zarkowsky mastered the somewhat choppy and lumpy waters in a formidable way, posting a 10 – 1 score to sit alone at the top of the leader board after this first day of racing. The American team were all sunshine but very tired, arriving at the dock after no less than eight hours on the water:

"It was a lot of fun in good conditions out there, and I'm really happy with how our day went. I think we were getting off the line pretty well" Roble says, praising her crew for their hard work:

"Our boat handling was definitely an advantage for us. It was hard going in all of the chop, but the girls kept the boat rolling and let me concentrate on driving."

World #3 Anne-Claire Le Berre was the only one to beat Roble. The French skipper finished last year with a win in the Busan event, for a podium position on the 2015 WIM Series. After a maternity leave during the start of this season, she's now back in full swing. With her 8 – 2 score so far in the round-robin stage, she's sharing third place in the regatta with Renée Groeneveld, The Netherlands:

"It was a long day on the water and I'm happy we lost just two matches, as we were quite exhausted at the end" Le Berre sighs, explaining what cost them the two matches: "Boathandling, tactics and speed worked pretty well on board, but as we haven't sailed very much this year, we lose matches when we're making too many mistakes" she admits.

Anna Östling of Sweden may be World #1, but on Lake Michigan she learned that Roble was the superior skipper. At least in their two Friday fights:

"In the first match we had Stephanie until the last downwind, where she surfed away on a big wave that we missed. And when we met her again in the afternoon, we hadn't adjusted the trim on our boat for the slightly lighter winds, so she slipped away again" Östling analyses, not too worried about the two defeats.

"No, I think it's good with tight racing on a high level. We've learnt a lot that we'll use over the weekend."

The double round-robin will be concluded Saturday and followed by quarterfinals, with the semi finals and the final to be decided on Sunday.

Round Robin Standings:

1. Stephanie, Roble, USA, 10 – 1
2. Anna Östling, SWE, 9 – 2
3. Renée Groeneveld, NED, 8 – 2
3. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 8 – 2
5. Samantha Norman, NZL, 4 – 6
6. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 4 – 7
7. Nicole Breault, USA, 3 – 8
8. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 2 – 9
9. Elizabeth Shaw, CAN, 0 – 11