Five of the world's top-10 ranked women sailors are among the competitors set to duel May 28-31 in the pre-eminent boat-against-boat match race, the BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup, hosted by Eastport Yacht Club and held on Annapolis' Severn River.
Sponsored by BoatU.S. - Boat Owners Association of the United States - this year's BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup also takes on the added significance as a dress rehearsal for the 2004 Women's World Match Race Championship, which will be held in lieu of the Cup in 2004.
Those accepting invitations to race, and their respective place in the ISAF Women's Match Race Rankings include: Marie FAURÉ #4 (FRA); Giulia CONTI #6 (Italy); Klaartje ZUIDERBAAN #7 (NED) and Elizabeth BAYLIS #8 (USA). Others accepting include 1997 Cup winner Betsy ALISON #11 (USA); Paula LEWIN # 25 (BER), Malin KÄLSTRÖM #26 (SWE) and Carol CRONIN #34 (USA). The last slot goes to the winner of the annual Sundance Cup regatta, won this year by Deb WILLITS, currently ranked #16.
"This is our ninth year as sponsor and we're thrilled to see this regatta become a major event on the women's racing circuit,"
said Richard Schwartz, BoatU.S. founder and chairman. "Eastport Yacht Club does a terrific job and with the world championship there next year, the racing just gets more exciting."
Starting Wednesday morning and finishing with the final matches on Saturday, racers compete with crews of three in a series of round robin duels.
The cup is sailed on J-22, but instead of a focus on boat design, materials and technology such as with the America's Cup, the BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup stresses technical skill. Competitors are often forced to make split-second decisions based on rule knowledge and technical ability.