St. Petersburg, Florida – Australia’s Katie Spithill won the 2007 Rolex Osprey Cup – one of only two ISAF Grade 1 women’s match racing events in the U.S. – held at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club (St. Petersburg, Fla.), from October 18-21. Along with crew Nina Curtis, Jessica Eastwell and Kristen Short, Spithill defeated Giulia Conti (Toscolano Maderno, Italy) in three straight matches in the ‘first to win three’ format. In the semi-final round Spithill knocked out another pre-race favorite #4 ranked Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.), a two-time world champion. In the other semi-final match, Conti defeated Liz Baylis (San Rafael, Calif.), a past Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and the current U.S. Women’s Match Racing champion. Barkow, the 2005 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, went on to defeat Baylis in the round to decide third and fourth place, or the ‘petit-final’ as it is called in match racing, with a score of 3-1.
“To win the Rolex Osprey Cup, for myself and Team Acuity, is the icing on the cake for what has been a very long, hard, expensive and very rewarding 2007, ending with our silver medal at the 2007 ISAF Women’s Match Racing Worlds and third in the ISAF Rankings,” said Spithill. “Giulia and her team are very strong; they also include Alessandra Angelini (ITA), who has sailed with my team for three international events this year. It was almost a re-match from last year’s Santa Maria Cup where we won 3-2. As Giulia is an Olympic sailor, her ability to pick wind shifts was very obvious and definitely one of her strong points.”
Conti, the 2005 Rolex Osprey Cup champion, did well in winning 12 of her round robin matches as she has not been actively match racing, preferring instead to concentrate on preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games where she will represent Italy in the 470 class.
As this was the first time that Spithill competed at the Rolex Osprey Cup and the first time her crew had sailed in a Sonar keelboat, she said that her team’s plan was to focus. “Our aim was to come here and learn, and minimize mistakes to hopefully improve our ranking,” she said. “There was some very high competition at this event.
“The team has been sailing together for all the events we have done from July to October this year,” Spithill continued. “They have done an exceptional job. As we only needed four team members for this event there are also other team members who are back at home, they are: Elizabeth Walsh, Angela Farrell and our coach Traks Gordon.”
Now in its 11th year of providing a platform in the U.S. for internationally-ranked women sailors, the Rolex Osprey Cup is managed by Pat Seidenspinner and Tom Farquhar (both, St. Petersburg) of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Only eight of the world’s women’s match-racing regattas have been granted ISAF Grade 1 status, the highest level of competition for match racing, the one-on-one format of sailboat racing. There are two in the U.S. of which the Rolex Osprey Cup is one.
“Women’s match racing has seen steady growth in both numbers and talent in the last few years and events like the Rolex Osprey Cup and the Rolex Women’s Match are responsible for this growth,” said Liz Baylis, who also serves as the executive director of the Women’s International Match Racing Association (WIMRA). “The competitiveness and depth of the field at this event show the strength and importance of match racing for competitors at the international level. Teams that are currently selected to represent their countries at the 2008 Olympic Games are keeping their skills sharp on the match racing circuit. With the possibility of match racing becoming an event for women in the 2012 Olympic Games, these teams are poised to make the jump.”
New Orleans’ Katy Lovell finished in fifth place with one match win more than sixth-placed Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), the Laser Radial representative for the U.S. at the 2008 Games. Lovell’s husband, John, recently captured the Olympic berth in the Tornado class with his teammate Charlie Ogletree (Kemah, Tex.).
Rounding out the top 10 were Sabrina Gurioli (Forli, Italy) in 7th, Caroline Béjar (Brazil) in 8th, Rachael Silverstein (St. Petersburg, Fla.) in 9th, and Sandy Hayes (Scituate, Mass.) in 10th place.
Over the four days of racing in Sonar class keelboats, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s race committee ran 113 races, including a complete double round-robin, semi-finals (first to win 3), three consolation series (first to win 2), petit-finals (first to win 3), and final (first to win 3). Racing conditions were excellent as they so often are on Tampa Bay, with wind at 5-10 knots and plenty of sunshine.
Final results – 2007 Rolex Osprey Cup
October 18-21, 2007 at St. Petersburg Yacht Club
Final match: Katie Spithill defeated Giulia Conti, 3-0
Petit-Final match: Sally Barkow def. Liz Baylis, 3-1
Semi-Final match 1: Katie Spithill def. Sally Barkow, 3-0
Semi-Final match 2: Giulia Conti def. Liz Baylis, 3-2
Overall standings — Skipper (hometown) with crew members:
1. Katie Spithill (Pittwater, Australia) with crew Nina Curtis, Jessica Eastwell and Kristen Short
2. Giulia Conti (Toscolano Maderno, Italy) with crew Alessandra Marenzi, Alessandra Angelini and Giovanna Micol
3. Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.) with crew Debbie Capozzi, Annie Lush and Lindsay Bartel.
4. Liz Baylis ( San Rafael, Calif.) with crew Lee Icyda, Suzy Leech and Karina Shelton
5. Katy Lovell (New Orleans, Louisiana) with crew Alice Manard, Ann Graham and Carla Schiefer
6. Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) with crew Liz Bower, Ali Sharpe and Molly Vandermoer
7. Sabrina Gurioli (Forli, Italy) with crew Elena Orioli, Marta Reynes Nicolau and Marcella Trioschi
8. Caroline Béjar (#56, Brazil) with crew Andrea Grael, Isabel Ficker and Laura Zanni
9. Rachael Silverstein (#63, St. Petersburg, Fla.) with crew Jee Lee, Becca Thomas and Kristen Herman
10. Sandy Hayes (#18, Scituate, Mass.) with crew Cindy Olsen, Kathryn Zainea and Phyllis Karlberg
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