Due to begin on Saturday, 18 October in Bermuda, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) is preparing to host eight of the world's top women's match racing teams for a four-day test of strategy and tactical skill.
Defending champion Paula LEWIN, Bermuda's four-time Athlete of the Year, will return to her home waters after spending the majority of the past year training for the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece.
"Our first goal is to make the top four for the finals and if so, then we stand a good chance of doing as well as last year,"
said Lewin, who will sail with Peta LEWIN, Carola COOPER, Lisa neasham and Christine Patton.
"It is so nice to be home after a long summer on the road. My crew and I are thoroughly looking forward to racing this week in IODs, against a field of great women's teams, here in Bermuda."
The eight teams will vie for a share of the $15,000 prize purse and the IV Cruiser Squadron Bowl, an ornate Edwardian silver bowl originally presented to the RBYC in 1908 by the Rear Admiral and Officers of the IV Cruiser Squadron, H.M. Ships Euryalus, Hogue and Cressy.
Sailing takes place on Hamilton Harbour in International One Design class sloops. The ISAF Grade 1 event includes a single round robin with the semi-final and final rounds to follow. Daily press conferences will take place at RBYC one half hour following the completion of racing.
The winner and runner-up of the Bermuda International Women's Match Racing Championship will advance to round one of the Investors Guaranty(tm) Presentation of the King Edward VII Gold Cup (October), where they will compete for another $100,000 in prize money.
Lewin holds the distinction of being the first female skipper to lead her team to the King Edward VII Gold Cup, a feat she accomplished in 1999 and repeated last year. In fact, in 2002 she finished fifth, turning in the best finish for a female skipper in the event's 55-year history.
Skippers participating in the 2003 Bermuda International Women's Match Racing Championship (listed in alphabetical order with hometown and ISAF rank as of September 11, 2003):
1. Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I., USA) ISAF rank: 7
2. Jenny Axhede/Team Panorama (Gothenburg, Sweden) ISAF ranking: 34
3. Sally Barkow/Team Seven (Nashotah, Wis., USA) ISAF rank: 38
4. Sandy Hayes (Scituate, Mass., USA) ISAF ranking: 20
5. Elizabeth Kratzig (Corpus Christi, Texas, USA) ISAF rank: 31
6. Paula Lewin/Team ACE (Paget, Bermuda) ISAF rank:17
7. Deborah Willits (Houston, Texas, USA) ISAF rank: 16
8. Klaartje Zuiderbaan (Amsterdam, Netherlands) ISAF rank: 14
Title sponsor of the King Edward VII Gold Cup is Investors Guaranty(tm). The event is hosted by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the Bermuda Department of Tourism. Renaissance Reinsurance is the Presenting Sponsor. Primary Sponsors are Bacardi, Colorcraft, Continental Airlines, Coral Beach & Tennis Club, Horizons Resort, Oleander Cycles, Omega, The Waterloo House and Wedgwood.