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DAY 6 - ROLEX 2000 ISAF Women's World Match Racing Championship

by Dana Paxton on 2 Dec 2000
Final Round Set for Tomorrow

St. Petersburg, Fla. (December 1, 2000) - Four semifinalists were decided
this morning in the Rolex 2000 ISAF Women's World Match Racing
Championship, after the final two flights of the seven-flight quarterfinal
round were completed. Defending world champion and top points earner Dorte
Jensen drew ISAF World Sailor of the Year Shirley Robertson, leaving Betsy
Alison, the 1998 winner of this event, and Marie Bjorling to race each
other in the semifinal round. The first skipper in each of the two
pairings to score three wins will advance into the final round.

After a dramatic afternoon of semi-final round racing, four skippers are
tied with one win each, leaving tomorrow's schedule to decide who will
advance to the final round. Judging by today's action, anyone can pull off
a trip to the finals.

The final few seconds of the day's racing were the most dramatic. At the
first windward mark rounding Bjorling fouled Alison and was given a
penalty. Down the next run Bjorling took a big risk and rounded up inches
ahead of Alison to take control of the next weather leg.

Down the final run Bjorling looked to have a big enough lead to be able to
complete her penalty turn, but Alison found better breeze on her side of
the course and with it the speed she needed. That left the Swedish team no
other option but to give it everything they had. They sent their Sonar
into a tight penalty turn -- as Alison continued on her course -- looking
to have enough speed and time to get by, but Bjorling turned the speed back
on to cross the line by two seconds.

'We made some mistakes like at the windward mark,' admitted Bjorling. 'But
we are still learning and tomorrow will be different.'

Alison was equally optimistic about her chances to advance out of the
semifinals. 'You have to accept it doesn't always go your way in this
game,' she said. 'We've still got a lot of racing to do tomorrow.'

Although not quite as dramatic, Robertson's win over Jensen was equally
crucial as Jensen was holding a one-point lead over them. Although the
British team led off the start, Jensen found more breeze to the right side
of the course and when the two boats came back together again, Jensen's
team had taken the lead. They continued to lead around the course, to pick
up a point and keep themselves in the game.

'I think Shirley took a big risk letting us go off to the other side of the
course, but it worked for her, although only just,' said Jensen. 'Tomorrow
we have to go out there and sail as fast as hell.'

To take advantage of the early-morning breeze, racing will begin at 8:00
a.m. and the St. Petersburg Yacht Club race committee may elect to decide
the finalists with one more race instead of the best-of-five series
originally scheduled.

Results after Day Six

Semifinal Round (2 flights completed)

Dorte Jensen (DEN) vs. Shirley Robertson (GBR) 1-1
Marie Bjorling (SWE) vs. Betsy Alison (USA) 1-1

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