Dutch Sailors Fend Off U.S. Women’s Team to Win 2016 Carlos Aguilar Match Race

Winners are pictured in the foreground above. A $10,000 prize went to the winning team of Renée Groeneveld, Annemicke Bes, Lobke Berkhout and Mijke Lievens.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Aguilar Match Race Press Officer, Carol Bareuther.

ST. THOMAS — A top international women’s sailing team from the Netherlands celebrated victory at the end of this year’s Carlos Aguilar Match Race. The contest this year featured some of the best female sailors in the world and hosted the final stage of the first Women’s International Match Racing Series.

Netherlands skipper Renée Groeneveld fended off a challenge by a U.S. team to win the fifth race in the women’s series and third place overall. Epic Racing from the U.S. took second place in the overall match.

The WIM held its first race in Helsinki, Finland in June. A women’s team from Sweden, Team Anna, won the five race series.  Anna Ostling skippered the winning team but delivered a third place finish in Charlotte Amalie Harbor.

The Aguilar race took place on St. Thomas from Dec. 1 to Dec. 4. 

Groeneveld said her crew went into the final race on Sunday knowing that U.S. skipper Stephanie Roble had competed in the Aguilar match race before, and that they knew the harbor and the course.

“Everything fell into place for us and I’m really happy to sail so well together with my team,” she said. The team faced offshore winds that posed a challenge, she said.

Roble called the Sunday finale a fun run. The Epic Racing crew wanted to work on specific parts of their effort and raced with those specifics in mind. Ostling said the Charlotte Amalie course reminded her of races back home in Sweden on a J24.

A second Swedish team, New Sweden Match Racing, took fourth place. Skipper Caroline Sylvan said the Augilar race was the best performance for her team in the series.

The 2016 women’s series sailed in four countries before reaching the VI. There was the Helsinki Women’s Match in Finland in June, the Lysekil Women’s Match in Sweden in August and the Buddy Melges Challenge in the U.S. The fourth race, the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race took place in Korea in October.

Twelve teams went into competition on the first day, representing Sweden, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Australia, Great Britain, Finland, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and the United States.

St. John sailing standout Mayumi “Mimi” Roller crewed on board a U.S. team skippered by Morgan Collins.

WIM Series Manager Liz Baylis said St. Thomas provided an ideal venue to conclude the first international women’s match race.

“All of the venues we have visited this year have been fantastic, with a great variety of conditions, but what could be better than ending the season in a tropical paradise?” she said.