Later this month, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club will host some of the world's most accomplished sailors during the Rolex Osprey Cup, an ISAF Grade 1 women's match racing regatta.
Scheduled for 18-21 October, the regatta will feature ten international teams, including the world's #3 ranked Team Acuity, skippered by Katie SPITHILL
(AUS). SPITHILL, the runner-up at the 2007 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, will compete against nine other top skippers including #4 ranked Sally BARKOW
(USA), a two-time World Champion and Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, and Liz BAYLIS
(USA), also a past Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and the current US Women's Match Racing champion. Racing takes place daily on Tampa Bay in Sonar class keelboats, within viewing range of the St Petersburg Municipal Pier.
"We expect to improve on a few parts of the race course that are a little unpolished for us,"
said BARKOW, who recently won the ISAF Grade 1 Trentino Women's Match Race, in Italy, and the 2007 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup. In addition to her team's success in match racing, Team 7 is working toward a berth at the 2008 Olympic Games, in the Yngling.
Another Olympic hopeful competing is Anna TUNNICLIFFE
(USA), who this week is competing in Newport, R.I. at the US Olympic Team Trials in the Laser Radial. TUNNICLIFFE finished in second place in the 2006 Rolex Osprey Cup to Betsy ALISON
(USA) and again in 2005 to Giulia CONTI
CONTI, like TUNNICLIFFE, has been concentrating on Olympic-level sailing and has done little match racing, since winning the 2005 Rolex Osprey Cup. "It's been a long time since we have match-raced, more than one year,"
said CONTI, who along with her bow crew Giovanna MICOL
are ranked #1 in the world in the Olympic 470 class and will represent Italy at the Games in China. "This regatta is a good way to test our skills and see if we can still sail among the top world's match racers."
One skipper who has spent her time concentrating on things other than sailing is Caroline BEJAR
(BRA), who recently graduated from medical school. BEJAR, from Brazil, is competing in the Rolex Osprey Cup for the first time. Although relatively new to match racing, she recently won the Match Race Brazil, an open event, which contributed to her rise to #56 in the world rankings. Her crew includes Andrea GRAEL
, a Yngling sailor married to well-known Olympic medalist Torben GRAEL
; and Isabel FICKER and Laura ZANNI
, former World Champions in the 420 class.
Two competitors received invitations to this event based on their performance at the Rolex Women's Match, an ISAF Grade 3 event held this past April at the SPYC: winner BAYLIS and runner-up Rachael SILVERSTEIN
(USA), an up-and-coming match racer who is ranked #63.
The schedule includes a practice race on Wednesday 17 October. Daily racing - beginning at 09:30 on Thursday at and 09:00 on Friday through to Sunday - takes place near the St Petersburg Municipal Pier, making spectating easy and enjoyable from shore. The format consists of a double round robin, with knockout (first to win three points) semi-final and final rounds scheduled at the end of the round robins.
Event Website - www.rolexwomensmatch.org