For more than a dozen years, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club (St. Petersburg, Fla.) has been one of the world’s major hubs for women’s match racing. Along with hosting the International Sailing Federation’s (ISAF) World Championship in 2000, the club annually hosts the Rolex Osprey Cup – one of three Grade 1regattas held in the U.S. –– as well as its “little sister” the Grade 3 Rolex Women’s Match. Centered on the goal of attracting more women to the sailing discipline, the Rolex Women’s Match takes place later this week, April 9-12, where 10 teams will take to the SPYC’s Sonar keelboats and participate in round robin racing on Tampa Bay. Teams, results and photos will be posted at www.rolexwomensmatch.org.
“With women’s match racing making its debut at the 2012 Olympics, we’re experiencing a great deal of interest from women sailors, many new to the discipline,” said Pat Seidenspinner (St. Petersburg), regatta co-chair along with Tom Farquhar (St. Petersburg). “Rolex Women’s Match provides an opportunity for sailors to increase their knowledge base and accrue ISAF ranking points, and we offer invitations to the top two finishers to participate in the Rolex Osprey Cup in October.”
The skippers and crew are a mix of Olympic aspirants gaining points on the world stage and those gaining valuable experience. Three-time Rolex Women’s Match champion Sandy Hayes (Scituate, Mass.), who is ranked #18 in the world, is scheduled to compete with Cindy Olsen (Scituate, Mass.), Karen Park (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Verian Aguilar (St. Thomas, USVI).
Genny Tulloch (San Francisco, Calif.), ranked #1 on the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics after a win at January’s Rolex Miami OCR, will compete against fellow Team members 2008 Olympian Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) and Katy Lovell (New Orleans, La.), ranked #2 and #3 respectively. Capozzi is joined by crew Emily Hill (Miami, Fla.), Jackie Schmitz (Washington, D.C.) and Derby Anderson (Annapolis, Md.), while Lovell’s team is Dana Riley (San Rafael, Calif.), Corrie Clement (La Porte, Texas) and Ann Graham (Houston, Texas).
Tulloch, the 2005 College Sailor of the Year and member of the movie “Morning Light” has been sailing almost non-stop since graduating from Harvard. She will be joined by her regular crew Liz Hall (Bristol, R.I.) and Jamie Haines (Newport, R.I.) with Chafee Emory (Newport, R.I.) filling the fourth crew spot. “We are expecting good competition with some familiar faces,” said Tulloch, who represents the St. Francis and Houston yacht clubs.
Two of the registered skippers are making their debut at the Rolex Women’s Match: Jennifer Wilson (Chicago, Ill.) and Alana O’Reilly (Washington, D.C./Charleston, S.C.), who will helm for the first time.
“I crewed in the Carlos Aguilar regatta in December and the Rolex Miami OCR in January,” said O’Reilly, a 24-year-old College of Charleston graduate. “I am looking forward to some quality racing and to get more match-racing experience.” Her crew includes Lyndsey Gibbons-Neff (Rosemont, Penn.), Emily Flint (Longmeadow, Mass. ) and Emily Babbitt (Dartmouth, Mass.), a member of the Georgetown University sailing team that O’Reilly coaches.
Wilson, meanwhile, helmed for the first time at last month’s Sundance Cup, a Grade 3 event in Fort Worth, Texas, where her team finished in 7th. “I have crewed in several match races in 2008 including the Windy City Match Race (1st), Bermuda Gold Cup (12th) and the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship (5th),” said the 35-year-old representing Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation. “Rolex will be more competitive than Sundance, so our major objective is to just get more helm time match racing and learn as much as possible.” Her crew includes Krista Paxton (Detroit, Mich.), Becky DaMore (Annapolis, Md.) and Maegan Ruhlman (Cleveland, Ohio).
Christine Erdman (Detroit, Mich.), who has been sailing since she was a young girl, has come to competitive racing somewhat later in her life. “In the past two years, I have been transitioning from cruising skipper and racing crew to racing skipper,” said Erdman, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the University Of Michigan School Of Public Health. “Prior to moving to Michigan five years ago, I windsurfed extensively on the San Francisco Bay, but the conditions in Michigan just don’t provide the same experience. However, it does have a terrific sailing community, and the match racing bug in Detroit is infectious.”
This past year, Erdman has skippered in the Bayview Yacht Club Match Race (7th), Sheboygan’s Northern Lights Cup (6th), Rolex Miami OCR (12th) and the Sundance Cup (8th). “I find that match racing provides an excellent combination of physical and intellectual challenges,” she said. “Some have likened match racing to chess on the water. I think of match racing as a sort of aquatic yoga.”
The 10 skippers competing, with crew members (hometowns):
1. Louise Bienvenu (New Orleans, La. ) with Marcy Lake, Anne David, Sarah Enwright
2. Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) with Emily Hill (Miami, Fla.), Jackie Schmitz (Washington, D.C.), Derby Anderson (Annapolis, Md.)
3. Christine Erdmann (Detroit, Mich.) with Lori Jost (Sheboygan, Wis./ Venice, Fla.), Mechele Duhamel (Lake Tahoe/Reno, Nev.), Kim Calnan (Tampa, Fla.)
4. Sandy Hayes (Scituate, Mass.) with Cindy Olsen (Scituate, Mass.), Karen Park (St. Petersburg, Fla.), Verian Aguilar (St. Thomas, USVI)
5. JoAnn Fisher (Annapolis, Md.) with Lynda Hiller (Annapolis, Md.), Debbie Probst (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Casey Williams
6. Liz Hjorth (Marina del Rey, Calif.) with Karyn Jones (Pacific Palisades, Calif.), Stine Cacavas (Los Angeles, Calif.), Marylyn Hoenemeyer (Los Angeles, Calif.)
7. Alana O’Reilly (Washington, D.C./ Charleston, S.C.) with Lyndsey Gibbons-Neff (Rosemont, Penn.), Emily Flint (Longmeadow, Mass.), Emily Babbitt (Dartmouth, Mass.)
8. Katy Lovell (New Orleans, La.) with Dana Riley (San Rafael, Calif.), Corrie Clement (La Porte, Texas), Ann Graham (Houston, Texas)
9. Genny Tulloch (San Francisco, Calif.) with Liz Hall (Bristol, R.I.), Jamie Haines (Newport, R.I.), Chafee Emory (Newport, R.I.)
10. Jennifer Wilson (Chicago, Ill.) with Krista Paxton (Detroit, Mich.), Becky DaMore (Annapolis, Md.), Maegan Ruhlman (Cleveland, Ohio)
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