Ten Teams Arrive in St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg Yacht Club, with support from title sponsor Rolex Watch U.S.A., created in 2001 an ISAF grade 4 women's match racing event, organised to introduce Women Sailors to the thrills of Match Racing.
The regatta features a skills and rules clinic by match racing world champion and America's Cup skipper Ed Baird on Thursday, 10 April. Racing is scheduled on Tampa Bay in Sonar keelboats for Friday, April 11 through Sunday, April 13.
Defending champion Sally Barkow (Pine Lake, Wisc.) returns this year not as a skipper, but as crew for Elizabeth Kratzig. "I have never sailed with Elizabeth, but I am confident that we will be able to combine our knowledge and create a great team,"
said Barkow, who recently won the talent-packed Yngling class at the Rolex Miami OCR.
"We have a great team set up for this week,"
said Kratzig, who teamed up with US Rolex Yachtswomen of the Year Cory Sertl and Jody Swanson for a try at a Yngling berth for the 2004 Olympic Games. "Although we have never sailed together we are all accomplished sailors. Sally is so talented and has a great knowledge of keelboats and match racing. Leah Hoepfner and Katie Lovelace are both junior sailors whom I have coached in the past. Leah is the top junior sailor from my home club, Corpus Christi Yacht Club. It's great to incorporate younger sailors into the team and try to give a little something back to sailing."
Now in its second year 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 and led by 14-year-old Rachael Silverstein with Meredith Pelton, Kristin Britt and team coach Alexis Ackman.
The oldest team is proudly led by past SPYC commodore Patricia Seidenspinner, who is sailing with Carole Bardes, Helen Larsen and Brooke Taliaferro. "It is interesting to note that some of the teams have never sailed together before and some have never match raced,"
said Seidenspinner, who is also the regatta's chairperson. "We are pleased to see three teams from the Midwest."
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.
"I was fortunate enough to participate in last year's event,"
said Nancy Zangerle (Cleveland, Ohio) who will be sailing with Susan McDowell, Suzie Wulff and Keven Eiber. "It was a positive experience. Match racing takes sailing to a whole new level. It is intense! You apply everything you know about sailing - boat speed, boat handling, tactics and rules - then condense it down into a few days with a ton of racing."
The remaining teams are: Charlie Arms (Vallejo Calif.) with Colleen Cooke, Jessamine Lewis and Patricia Bazan; Sarah Buckley (Chicago, Ill.) with Laurie Poppen, Chaffee Emory and Lisa Beddar; Sandy Hayes (Scituate, Mass.) with Kim Hapgood, Julie Wilkinson and Sue Michos; Elizabeth Kratzig (Miami Beach, Fla.) with Sally Barkow, Katie Lovelace and Leah Hoepfner; Kathy Lundeen (Sheboygan, Wisc.) with Denise Strand, Lori Jost and Michele Villani; and Capucine Pin (Annapolis, Md.) with Dianne Sullivan, Lisa Tate and Jennifer Wolfe . A tenth team is yet to be named.