Olympic Aspirants Eager To Gain International Ranking Points At Rolex Women's Match
The USA's top women match racers are lining up for the start of the Rolex Women's Match in St. Petersburg.
For more than a dozen years, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club has been one of the world's major hubs for women's match racing. Along with hosting the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship
in 2000, the club annually hosts the Rolex Osprey Cup - one of three ISAF Grade 1 regattas held in the USA - as well as its "little sister" the ISAF Grade 3 Rolex Women's Match. Centred on the goal of attracting more women to the sailing discipline, the Rolex Women's Match takes place later this week, 9-12 April, where 10 teams will take to the SPYC's Sonar keelboats and participate in round robin racing on Tampa Bay. Teams, results and photos will be posted at www.rolexwomensmatch.org
"With women's match racing making its debut at the 2012 Olympics, we're experiencing a great deal of interest from women sailors, many new to the discipline,"
said Pat SEIDENSPINNER (USA), regatta co-chair along with Tom FARQUHAR (USA). "Rolex Women's Match provides an opportunity for sailors to increase their knowledge base and accrue ISAF Ranking points, and we offer invitations to the top two finishers to participate in the Rolex Osprey Cup in October."
The skippers and crew are a mix of Olympic aspirants gaining points on the world stage and those gaining valuable experience. Three-time Rolex Women's Match champion Sandy HAYES
(USA), who is ranked #18 in the world, is scheduled to compete with Cindy OLSEN (USA), Karen PARK (USA) and Verian AGUILAR (ISV).
(USA), ranked #1 on the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics after finishing as top US skipper at January's Rolex Miami OCR, event two of the ISAF Sailing World Cup
, will compete against fellow Team members 2008 Olympian Debbie CAPOZZI
(USA) and Katy LOVELL
(USA), ranked #2 and #3 respectively. CAPOZZI is joined by crew Emily HILL (USA), Jackie SCHMITZ (USA) and Derby ANDERSON (USA), while LOVELL's team is Dana RILEY (USA), Corrie CLEMENT (USA) and Ann GRAHAM (USA).
TULLOCH, the 2005 College Sailor of the Year and member of the movie "Morning Light" has been sailing almost non-stop since graduating from Harvard. She will be joined by her regular crew Liz HALL (USA) and Jamie HAINES (USA) with Chafee EMORY (USA) filling the fourth crew spot. "We are expecting good competition with some familiar faces,"
said TULLOCH, who represents the St. Francis and Houston yacht clubs.
Two of the registered skippers are making their debut at the Rolex Women's Match: Jennifer WILSON
(USA) and Alana O'REILLY
(USA), who will helm for the first time.
"I crewed in the Carlos Aguilar regatta in December and the Rolex Miami OCR in January,"
said O'REILLY, a 24 year old College of Charleston graduate. "I am looking forward to some quality racing and to get more match-racing experience."
Her crew includes Lyndsey GIBBONS-NEFF (USA), Emily FLINT (USA) and Emily BABBITT (USA), a member of the Georgetown University sailing team that O'REILLY coaches.
WILSON, meanwhile, helmed for the first time at last month's Sundance Cup, an ISAF Grade 3 event in Fort Worth, Texas, where her team finished in seventh. "I have crewed in several match races in 2008 including the Windy City Match Race [finishing first], Bermuda Gold Cup [12th] and the U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship [fifth],
" said the 35-year-old representing Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation. "Rolex will be more competitive than Sundance, so our major objective is to just get more helm time match racing and learn as much as possible."
Her crew includes Krista PAXTON (USA), Becky DAMORE (USA) and Maegan RUHLMAN (USA).
(USA), who has been sailing since she was a young girl, has come to competitive racing somewhat later in her life. "In the past two years, I have been transitioning from cruising skipper and racing crew to racing skipper,"
said ERDMAN, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the University Of Michigan School Of Public Health. "Prior to moving to Michigan five years ago, I windsurfed extensively on the San Francisco Bay, but the conditions in Michigan just don't provide the same experience. However, it does have a terrific sailing community, and the match racing bug in Detroit is infectious."
This past year, ERDMAN has skippered in the Bayview Yacht Club Match Race (seventh), Sheboygan's Northern Lights Cup (sixth), Rolex Miami OCR (12th) and the Sundance Cup (eighth). "I find that match racing provides an excellent combination of physical and intellectual challenges,"
she said. "Some have likened match racing to chess on the water. I think of match racing as a sort of aquatic yoga."
Jo Ann FISHER
Spectators can view daily racing at the St. Petersburg Municipal Pier. Established in 2002, the Rolex Women's Match annually strives to improve opportunities for women sailors. Results and photos will posted on the Rolex Women's Match official website www.rolexwomensmatch.org
The Rolex Women's Match at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club joins other prestigious Rolex-sponsored events including the Rolex Miami OCR, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Fastnet Race, Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex, the Rolex Big Boat Series, Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. For more information about 2009 sailing events, visit www.regattanews.com
, the online press portal for Rolex yachting events.