The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron has invited four women's teams to take part in the 2009 Hardy Cup, the prestigious Under 25 ISAF Group 3 match racing series on Sydney Harbour.
Twelve teams from Australia, New Zealand, Finland and Japan have been invited to sail the Squadron's Elliott 6 sports boats in the regatta, from 1-5 February.
Heading the teams is current Hardy Cup holder Evan WALKER
(AUS), representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, but the fleet is largely made of crews sailing for the first time in this highly rated match racing event.
WALKER, 22, won the Hardy Cup in February 2008 in a hard-fought final against the 2007 champion Adam MINOPRIO
from New Zealand. MINOPRIO has since gone to achieve many match racing successes on the international circuit while WALKER has continued at university, studying aeronautical engineering.
The interest of the women's teams follows the selection of the Elliott 6, with some modifications, as the women's match racing keelboat for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Two Australian Sailing Development Squad women's teams have been accepted, headed by two talented young women sailors, Nicole SOUTER
and Amanda SCRIVENOR
. The other women's teams will be led by Silja LEHTINEN
from the Nylandska Jaktklubben in Finland and a third Australian, Lucinda WHITTY
, selected to represent the host club, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
SOUTER is a five-times Australian match racing champion, twice sailed in Elliott 6s, and over the past year shed has finished runner-up in the CYCA's Harken Women's International Match Race Championship and the New Zealand's Match Racing Championship. She has an ISAF Women's World Match Race Ranking
of #10 and has previously raced in the Hardy Cup.
SCRIVENOR is a newcomer to the Hardy Cup but has an ISAF Women's Ranking of #28 and a recent record that includes a second in the CYCA's Bavaria Youth Match Racing 2008 and a second in the Australian Women's Match Racing Championship 2008.
LEHTINEN will be the highest ISAF Ranked woman sailor to contest the Hardy Cup, with a world ranking of #7, based on a record that includes a first place in the Finnish Women's Match Racing Championship 2008, a second in the Ladies Only Match Race 2008 at Hamburg, Germany, and a bronze medallist at the 2008 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship
in Auckland, New Zealand, sailed in Elliott 6s.
WHITTY has an ISAF ranking of #39, with an impressive record that includes winning the CYCA's Marinassess Women's Match Racing Championship 2008 and fourth places in other women's events in Australia.
Apart from the women and defending Hardy Cup champion WALKER, the line-up for the Hardy Cup 2009 includes Philip ROBERTSON
(NZL) and Adrian SHORT
(NZL) from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Yuki NAGAHORI
from the Hamaya Marina Yacht Club, Japan, Tom SPITHILL
(AUS) representing the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Matthew STEVEN
(NZL) from Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, and David CHAPMAN
(AUS), representing the RSYS.