Italy's Giulia Conti defeated US star Anna Tunnicliffe to win the 2009 ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Osprey Cup held at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club from 21-24 October.
Along with crew Lisa Lardani
, Alessandra Angelini
and Giovanna Micol
, Giulia Conti
(ITA) defeated Anna Tunnicliffe
(USA) in the 'first to win three' final match format. A total of 111 matches were run by Principal Race Officer Pat Seidenspinner on Tampa Bay for the four-person teams sailing in Sonar class keelboats.
"I haven't match raced well in the past two regattas, so winning here means I'm still able to do it!" said Conti. "This regatta comes at the beginning of the winter season, so it's been a month without racing. I missed it, and we were very excited to sail! When you are calm and happy to sail then results come by themselves. Plus winning in a place that you consider your second match race house - well, let's say the first - makes me even happier!"
Conti, the 2008 and 05 Rolex Osprey Cup champion and runner-up in 2007, came out of the double round robin winning 15 of her matches, second to an undefeated Tunnicliffe with 18 wins. In the semi-final round, Conti defeated world #7 ranked match racer and 2008 Olympian Anne-Claire Le Berre
(FRA), 3-0; while Tunnicliffe and her crew Molly Vandemoer
(USA), Liz Bower
(USA) and Debbie Capozzi
(USA) defeated Karin Hagström
, (SWE), world #19, and crew Nina Bake, Emilie Lidén and Åsa Carlsson, 3-0.
Although Tunnicliffe defeated Conti during round robin racing, the final matches weren't as simple for either team. "After the round robins, we had sailed very well, having beat everyone," said Tunnicliffe. "We knew we could beat the girls, but at the same time knew that they were very good sailors and that it would be a tough battle. Each race we sailed was not easily won by either team. It was great sailing and we were looking forward to it and it proved to be some awesome sailing."
Conti won the first match, then Tunnicliffe came back to win the second match. "The first race of the finals was the best race we had," said Tunnicliffe. "It was a photo finish which didn't go our way. The lead changed a couple of times, and each team had a chance to attack the other. It was a great race from start to finish."
Conti went on to win the next two matches to clinch the title. "I love sailing against Anna," said Conti. "Whenever I try to do some tricks I think 'OK, that trick won't work if she does this' and she actually does that thing. She is really smart. I also think that we have a similar way of match racing, being quite instinctive. Some match racers instead are more schematic, and I don't like racing against them as much."
At the prizegiving held Saturday evening at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, Conti gave credit to her crew. Conti and Micol sailed to a fifth at the 2008 Olympics (470 class), and are world #1 ranked, having won the class European Championship, the Mediterranean Games and Eurolymp Garda 2009.
"My crew really did a fantastic job, I was impressed!" said Conti. "Since my usual spinnaker trimmer Alessandra Marenzi couldn't come I had to arrange a different crew, and had Giovanna (who normally does the bow) replace her. I had Lisa Lardani on the bow, who was perfect. She climbed the mast during a race because the topping lift got up, away from the pole. And as usual, Alessandra Angelini made the best hoists ever!"
The petit-finals between Le Berre and Hagström resulted in a 3-0 score in Le Berre's favor.
Rounding out the standings were Samantha Osborne
(NZL) in fifth, Katy Lovell
(USA) in sixth, Jo Ann Fisher
(USA) in seventh, Jen Provan
(CAN) in eighth, Lisa Ross
(CAN) in ninth, and Rachael Silverstein
(USA) in tenth.
Organizers described the racing as competitive and exciting, with idea sailing conditions. "The conditions each day were perfect," said Seidenspinner. "We had wind from 5-14 knots from the northeast and quite steady, with brilliant sunshine and 80F temperatures."
Now in its 13th year of providing a platform in the U.S. for internationally-ranked women sailors, the Rolex Osprey Cup is managed by Pat Seidenspinner and Tom Farquhar of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. The International Jury consisted of Bill O'Hara (IRL), Chief Umpire, and umpires Tom Rinda (USA), David Blackman (USA), Dick Kempe (BER), Barbara Farquhar (USA), Tom Farquhar (USA), Hans Graf (USA), Ann Newton (USA), Glenn Oliver (USA), David Pelling (CAN), Jos Spijkerman (NED), Eric Robbins (USA) and Andrew Wardle (CAN).