Thursday, June 18, 2009

BoatUS Santa Maria Cup

Top International Women Match Race on J/22s in Annapolis

(Annapolis, MD -May 27-30) - Enduring a week of brutally light and fickle winds, the women’s world top ranked match racing champion Claire Leroy (FRA) conquered the field to win the ISAF Grade 1 BoatUS Santa Maria Cup women’s match race event. Following the first three days, the event had yet to complete a single round robin schedule of nine races. For the fourth and final day on Saturday, the light winds permitted a 9am start to complete the round, but with time now running short, the second round robin series was scratched, and the top four teams advanced to the semi-final round.
By virtue of their round robin scores, the semi-finals saw top-seeded Leroy blank fourth seed Elizabeth Baylis (USA) 2-0, while second seed Genny Tulloch (USA) also dispatched third seed Katie Spithill (AUS) 2-0. It wasn’t until after four o’clock that the Final/Petit-Final Knockout Series commenced with Leroy vs Tulloch in the Finals and Spithill vs Baylis in the Petit match. Leroy cleanly defeated Tulloch in the first match, with Tulloch unable to overcome two penalties in the second. With time running out, Spithill defeated Baylis in the single Petit match to determine the final scores.
Peter Howson commentary: It's been a rough season for marquee sailing events in Annapolis so far this year. It seems the weather has been one week off on the wind every time and the Boat US Santa Maria Cup was no exception. After a spectacular Memorial Day weekend and the cancellation of the pro-am (sponsored by a local lingerie shop: awesome) because of too much wind, the racers have endured several days of barely enough wind to race. Today was another drifter. The press boat left the dock at 11:00 and hit the race course just in time to wait for a good 3 hours before the breeze picked up. J/22 Santa Maria Cup PostponementThree hours of floating around watching boats full of women sunbathe... for once waiting out a calm didn't totally suck. In fact I'm sure once "Mr. Clean" (Sailing Anarchy) sees the photos he'll be putting this regatta on his schedule even if it is in Annapolis again. This is an impressive fleet by any standards. The big guns according to the media guide are Genny Tulloch, #1 match racing skipper on the US Sailing Team Alphagraphics, Liz Baylis and the San Francisco Match Women's Racing Team, Katie Spithill ranked #7 in the world by ISAF, and last but certainly not least, #1 in the world (again, according to ISAF) Claire Leroy of France. There are also 6 other women fielding teams from five different continents, all of whom could knock your ass off the racecourse without breaking a sweat. The day started with Liz Baylis and Claire Leroy tied for first with 6 wins each and Baylis had beaten Leroy in a prior flight. RC finally set a course and they got off a full flight of races. With wind blowing just barely 5 knots most of the time, these races were all won at the start. With a short course it was pretty tight quarters and there were some challenges at the windward mark when some boats misjudged the set of the current and had to tack a couple of extra times putting them smack dab in the middle of the following race. Leroy picked up another win and Baylis dropped one to that Spithill girl so Liz was down one at the end of the day. Genny Tulloch came away with the only US win against Ramires of Portugal.
Regatta Debrief: Genny Tulloch, currently ranked as the top women’s match racing skipper on the US SAILING Team Alphagraphics, provides a recap from last week’s ISAF Grade 1 BoatUS Santa Maria Cup women’s match race event: J/22 match racer Genny Tulloch“The Santa Maria Cup in Annapolis was unfortunately not shined upon by the wind gods, and we had four light air days where the breezes were fighting with each other rather than cooperating on our behalf. Sadly I had caught a pretty bad cold on the flight to Annapolis, so while many of the other teams were sunbathing in bikinis, I was still in a jacket, sneezing anytime a zephyr of 2 knots came through. “We knew the weather was bad when we were told Thursday night (after 2 days) that the Santa Maria Cup had never been this far behind in races before, and then we went out and were only able to get one race the next day. We finally finished the first round robin, racing its final race on Saturday, which left us ranked second on a tie-break, as we had beaten both Katie Spithill (last year’s Match Racing World Champion), and Liz Baylis (last year’s second place in World Champs) in the round robin races. “The breeze then died again and we sat out there for about 6 hours as our Northerly gradient fought the Southerly seabreeze, neither one staying long enough to actually get a start off for our semi-finals, though the other match raced one race with three different 180 degree shifts—kites up on the downwind, then sailing upwind on the downwind leg and kites back up for the upwind leg, etc. We were happy not to have raced in that. They finally moved us straight to the finals matches at four, so we were up against Claire Leroy (currently ISAF ranked #1 Women’s Match Racer) to see who would get the win.” Event website. Further info. Photo credits: Sarah Proctor.