Ten teams of women have come to St. Petersburg, Florida this week to learn the art of America’s Cup-style racing.
St. Petersburg Yacht Club (SPYC), with support from title sponsor Rolex Watch U.S.A., has created an International Sailing Federation (ISAF) grade 4 women's match racing event. Organized to introduce women sailors to one-on-one match racing, the regatta will feature a skills and rules clinic by match racing world champion and America's Cup skipper Ed Baird on Thursday, February 21. Racing is scheduled on Tampa Bay in Sonar keelboats for Friday, February 22 through Sunday, February 24.
True to the regatta's mission of encouraging more women to try match racing, the Rolex Women's Match has attracted women sailors of all ages and abilities. The youngest team is from the SPYC junior sailing program. There is also a team of college sailors and eight additional teams made up of sailors ranging in age from 20 to 50-plus.
Most of the competitors are skilled sailors, but new to the art of match racing, which is typically defined as a duel between two identical boats. With its own set of rules, which are slightly different than the regular racing rules, match racing is known for its close and exciting sailing.
"The Rolex Women's Match gives me an opportunity to steer a boat, which helps increase my overall sailing ability and makes me a better crew person," said Sandy Hayes. "I love the excitement, the fast paced action and lots of races each day."
The Rolex Women's Match also has attracted experienced match racers such as Arabella Denvir from Irvington, Va. "I made a commitment to do lots more match racing this season and this is the start," said Denvir. "The clinic with Ed Baird, Rolex's continued support for women's match racing, and St.Pete's renowned race organization should make it a great event. I expect to learn a lot."
Daily results will be posted on St. Petersburg Yacht Club's website www.spyc.org