Celia Willison and her New Zealand Edge Women’s Match Team secured a hard-fought victory at the inaugural all-women Casa Vela Cup in the US – beating Sweden’s Anna Östling and the Wings Team 3-1 in the final on Saturday.
Willison, Alison Kent, Charlotte Porter and Serena Woodall had a tough route to the final after first having to defeat close friends and fellow Kiwis Megan Thomson (2.0 Racing Team) in the semifinals at the St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco.
Starting the day at 1-1 in their semis match, Thomson came out strong to take a 2-1 advantage over Willison, but Thomson’s point deduction from a day before opened the door for Willison to claw back two straight wins and book a spot in the final.
In the other semi, the surprise of the day was the Swedish come-from-behind victory against local favourite Nicole Breault (Vela Racing) putting Breault and team out of contention for the Casa Vela Cup title as the Swedes secured a 3-2 win.
In the final, the Swedish team were quick out of the blocks and led the first race wire-to-wire to a 1-0 start.
Looking confident in race two, Willison found better pressure to force Östling into a downwind broach just before the finish, evening the score at 1-1.
Both teams hugged the shoreline for relief from the current in the third race, with a fierce tacking battle and penalties aplenty.
But it was Willison and crew who held their nerve and won the day clinching a 3-1 victory over the Swedish team.
“We had great fun today” Willison said.
“A huge shout out to Megan Thomson for giving us a hard time in the semis, and to Anna and team in the final, that was exhausting but it was awesome, great match racing and what a win!”
In the petite final, Breault beat Thomson 2-0 to achieve a very credible podium finish.
The Women’s World Match Racing Tour heads to Annapolis, Maryland this week for stage 2 of the Tour at the Santa Maria Cup hosted by Eastport Yacht Club with racing from 1-4 May.
Full results from the Casa Vela Cup here. - Women's World Match Racing Tour