Within two hours of posting the 2008 ISAF Grade 2 Harken International Women's Match Racing Regatta application for entry, the organizing club, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, had received its first application from the world's tenth ranked woman match racer, Great Britain's Gemma FARRELL.
's eagerness is indicative of the level of interest in the ISAF Grade 2 regatta that will see the world's best women match racers gather in Sydney in March next year for a final battle before the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2008.
The club has also fielded enquiries from the USA, New Zealand, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, France and Australia for the five-day regatta that will be sailed on Sydney Harbour from 16-19 March, 2008, aboard the CYCA's fleet of Elliott 6 sports boats.
"We are expecting an exceptionally strong international field and with places limited to ten teams, the competition for a starting position will be very tough,"
said organizer Jenni BONNITCHA.
Australia's Katie SPITHILL
and Nicky SOUTER
, who are currently ranked third and ninth in the world respectively, should automatically gain regatta entry.
The host club will put forward at least one team of sailors who finished strongly in third and fourth positions behind SPITHILL and SOUTER at this year's Australian Women's Match Racing Championship which was fought out on Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. The CYCA's front runners for regatta selection have already commenced training on Sydney Harbour.
The event has been granted additional status with ISAF's confirmation that the Harken International Women's is a final qualifying event for the ISAF Women's World Match Racing Championship 2008. The best ranked skipper from this event, not already invited, will receive an invitation to the ISAF Women's World Match Racing Championship to be hosted by Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in April 2008. For skippers who have already received an invitation to the Women's World Championship, it will be their last and possibly their only chance to train in the Elliott 6s before heading to New Zealand.
The 2008 Harken International Women's will mark the fourth year of Harken's naming rights sponsorship of this regatta and their ongoing commitment to the development of women's match racing is vital to the sport.
"Next year's event promises to be the best yet",
said Harken Australia's managing director Carl WATSON.
"It is a wonderful opportunity for our local women to compete at an international level on home shores. The added status associated with being the final qualifying event for the World Championship can only add to the quality and depth of the event.
"At Harken we pride ourselves on service and have invested in a new Harken service van to further add value to our customers. Look out for the Harken van during the 2008 Women's Match Racing Regatta, it will be onsite for the duration of the event to offer technical assistance.
"We are delighted with our ongoing association with the Harken International Women's Match Racing Regatta and continued relationship with the CYCA in 2008,"
The NOR and application for entry can be downloaded from www.cyca.com.au/editorial.asp?key=1550
ISAF Women's World Match Racing Championship - www.sailing.org/wmatchworlds