This Thursday sees the start of the Rolex Osprey Cup women’s match racing event in Tampa Bay

With the 2002 Rolex Osprey Cup due to start on 31 October, St Petersburg Yacht Club (SPYC) is preparing to host nine of the world’s top women match racing teams for a four-day test of strategy and tactical skill. In addition to the internationally ranked teams, an all-junior team, fielded by SPYC, will compete.

The 10 teams will vie for the Rolex Osprey Cup, a trophy initiated by SPYC, home to countless prominent national and international regattas. Sailing takes place on Tampa Bay from Thursday, in Sonar class sloops. A double round robin elimination is scheduled to take place Thursday and Friday with semi-final and final rounds to follow on Saturday and Sunday.

The confirmed skippers are listed below together with their current ISAF rankings

Betsy Alison, Newport, R.I., USA


Rank: 18

Betsy Alison, a five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, holds many world championship and international regatta titles. She won the 1998 ISAF Women’s World Match Racing Championship. In addition to match racing, Alison is campaigning a Yngling for a berth at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Charlie Arms, Vallejo, Calif., USA

ISAF Rank: 23

Charlie Arms has been actively match racing for three years and racing since 1994. In 1998 she won the US SAILING Open Championship and sailed in the Adams Cup, placing fifth. Arms is the Director of Sailing for the California Maritime Academy.

Evan Brown, St. Petersburg, Fla., USA

ISAF Rank: 23

Evan Brown, 16, is returning to the Rolex Osprey Cup for the second time after placing fifth at last year’s event. In addition to match racing, she is training for a Yngling campaign.

Giulia Conti, ITA

ISAF Rank: 5

The top ranked sailor at this regatta, Giulia Conti is competing in the Rolex Osprey Cup for the first time.

Arabella Denvir, IRL

ISAF Rank: 33

Arabella Denvir has seen her world ranking steadily climb with finishes in the Rolex Osprey Cup in ’01, ’99 and ’98. In 2000, she placed third at the Sundance Cup. In addition to match racing, Denvir races dinghies and keelboats.

Marie Fauré, Hyères, FRA

ISAF rank: 6

An events coordinator, Faure switched to match racing five years ago after a successful run at fleet racing in the J/24, Melges 24 and First Class 8 classes. She also has two Tour Voile campaigns on her resume.

Sandy Hayes, Scituate, Mass., USA

ISAF rank: 29

Relatively new as a skipper in match racing, Sandy Hayes has established herself over the past four years as a worthy match racing crew for such events as the Bermuda International Women’s Match Racing Championship, Trentino Match Race regatta, the UBS Challenge U.S. Championship (with Sally Barkow) and the Swedish Match Cup (with Betsy Alison).

Capucine Pin, France

ISAF rank: 122

Capucine Pin is new to her role as a skipper, but has years of experience as crew in both fleet and match racing.

Deborah Willits, Houston, Texas, USA

ISAF rank: 44

Deborah Willits and her Texas Women’s Match Racing Team are newcomers to the Women’s International Match Racing Circuit. They placed fourth at the Bermuda International Women’s Match Racing Championship and at the Sundance Cup, eighth at the Santa Maria Cup (their first grade 1 event) and second at the UBS Regional Qualifiers, besting a two-time national champion.

Klaartje Zuiderbaan, Amsterdam, the NETHERLANDS

ISAF rank: 20

Having taken the past year off from match racing to compete with Amer Sports Too in the Volvo Ocean Race as a trimmer/driver, Klaartje Zuiderbaan is looking to improve her world match racing ranking with this event. She most recently finished third at the Bermuda International Women’s Match Racing Championship. In 2001, Zuiderbaan placed second at the Criterium International Feminin Match Race. In 2000, she won the Women’s European Match Race Championship and the Trofeo Trentino. She was fifth at the Santa Maria Cup.