The order of the day on Thursday at the International Bédanne’s Cup was to complete the double round robin. This would set the stage for the quarter-finals and see who would win the right to skip the quarter-finals and go straight to the semis. Local stars, Pauline Courtois and her Match in Pink by Normandy Elite Team kept hold of the top spot by sailing a flawless undefeated second round robin.
With four flights remaining in the double round robin stage, the overall order of the stage was still undecided. But with a loss by Anne-Claire Le Berre (FRA) in her first match of the day to Allie Blecher (USA) and a win by Pauline Courtois (FRA) over her fellow Club de Voile Saint Aubin Elbeuf (CVSAE) sailor Margot Vennin (FRA), the free pass to the semi-finals was settled in favour of Courtois.
“The key for our team was to stay focused for each match and we use each match to improve as a team. We enjoy sailing here as we have very good fans who come out to cheer us on!” Courtois explained her team’s success thus far in the event.
When asked how the team feels about advancing directly to the semi-finals instead of sailing the quarter-finals with the others, Courtois confessed “We think it’s difficult to stay ashore tomorrow as it will be difficult to stay focused on the competition. But we are very happy to sail on Saturday and know that we are happy, for sure, to be in the semis!”
The tension remained until the last flight of the round robin as the final spot in the quarter-finals was up for grabs. It came down to the battle of Sweden – Sanna Mattsson (Swedish Women’s Match Racing Team) from Gothenburg and Linnea Floser (Peregrine Racing) from Stockholm. With the winner taking the last quarter-final spot while the loser drops straight into the “Queen of the Castle”.
The pre-start was lively with lots of close manoeuvring and a few green flags before Floser came off the start line with a slight advantage as she was ahead but in the lee bow position. The boats sailed off towards the clubhouse side of the lake where Floser was able to tack and just cross on port. She extended her slight lead in a nice puff and secured the advantage when Mattsson’s team had a messy drop at the leeward mark. The Stockholm team celebrated with high fives at the finish. With a huge smile Floser said “We were really happy to win that deciding match over Sanna’s team and are really excited to be going to our first quarter-final in a WIM Series event”.
While the winner of the round robin, Pauline Courtois, looked on, the next six teams made the draw for quarter-finals. Anne-Claire Le Berre was given the first choice of opponent and chose the last qualifier, Linnea Floser. Margot Vennin chose Finnish skipper Marinella Laaksonen leaving American Allie Blecher to sail against Margot Riou. The quarter-finals are scheduled as “first to score 3 points” (or best of five) and will begin Friday morning followed by the racing to finalize the lower places in the overall standings.
The “Queen of the Castle” is derived from the more traditional “Roi du Château” or “King of the Castle” where a challenger has the chance to move up the ranks by winning battles against the higher placed opponents. This stage will see the bottom two teams from the round robin face off in a knock-out series with the winner surviving to fight another race against the lowest ranked losing quarter-finalist. This pattern continues until we have a “Queen of the Castle” placing fifth in the event. There is a difference in prize money from 5th to 9th of 850 Euros, so there is more than pride to play for in this stage.
The International Bédanne’s Cup in Tourville-la-Rivière, France, moves to the knock-out stages Friday with the quarter-finals and “Queen of the Castle” before finishing with the semi-finals, finals, prize giving and closing ceremonies on Saturday.
Standings in the 2017 International Bedanne’s Cup after completion of the double round-robin (skipper, nationality, team, points):
1- Pauline Courtois, FRA, Match in Pink by Normandy Elite Team, 15
2- Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, French Women's Match Racing Sailing Team, 12
3- Margot Vennin, FRA, Team CVSAE, 11
4- Allie Blecher, USA, Team BAAM, 11
5- Marinella Laaksonen, FIN, L2 Match Racing Team, 7.5
6- Margot Riou, FRA, APCC Women's Sailing Team, 6
7- Linnéa Floser, SWE, Peregrine Racing, 4
8- Sanna Mattsson, SWE, Swedish Women's Match Racing Team, 3
9- Ekaterina Kochkina, RUS, ProKateam Sailing Team, 2
photo Getty Images
Photo: Rémy Gros