by Dana Paxton
Italy’s Giulia Conti won the 2008 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 22-25.
Finals Conti VS Capozzi. 2008 Rolex Osprey Cup. Photo credit: Char Doyle/SPYC.
Along with crew Alessandra Marenzi, Alessandra Angelini, Giovanna Micol, Conti (Toscolano Maderno, Italy) defeated Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) in the ‘first to win three’ final match format. A total of 78 matches were run by Principal Race Officer Pat Seidenspinner on Tampa Bay for the four-person teams sailing in Sonar class keelboats.
'I am feeling a mixture of pride, happiness and faith for the future,' said Conti. 'If you consider that the Rolex Osprey Cup is, and has been, the only match race regatta that I have sailed during the Olympic campaign, except for the 2006, you have an immediate reply. I love the yacht club members, I love the climate, I feel happy when I’m there, and all of that helped me have the right attitude for racing.'
Conti, the 2005 Rolex Osprey Cup champion and runner-up in 2007, did well in winning seven of her round robin matches despite not actively match racing.
'I came here because I wanted enjoy the environment, despite zero training. So my expectations were far from the victory, but my heart and my mind were far from giving up. I have to confess also that inside me I was feeling that I needed a good performance after missing a medal in China in spite of my expectations there.'
Conti and Micol paired up to represent Italy in the Olympic 470. 'Each crew member is excellent and they are all superb professionals,' continued Conti. 'But they are also great companions before and after sailing, especially at dinner! They are serious when needed, but terrible jokers when it is time to relax!'
In the semi-final round Conti knocked out another pre-race favorite #16 ranked Lucy Macgregor (Poole, U.K.), the 2008 European champion. In the other semi-final match Capozzi defeated world #1 Claire Leroy (Nantes, FRA.), the current ISAF Women’s Match Racing World champion, to advance to the final round.
Capozzi also competed in the 2008 Olympics, representing the U.S. in the Yngling class. 'I have not steered much the past couple of years so my learning curve was high,' said Capozzi, who crewed for Sally Barkow in the Yngling as well as when they won the ISAF Women’s Match Racing Worlds. 'Fortunately I had a great crew who took care of everything else so I could focus on my job. We have never sailed together as a team but Genny Tulloch, Molly O'Bryan, and Derby Anderson did a fantastic job and they were a lot of fun to sail with. Giulia, Alessandra M., Alessandra A. and Giovanna sailed very well all week. The pre-starts were the highlight of our races with them. We had an offshore breeze so it was very shifty during all of the races and there were a lot of lead changes that kept us on our toes. St. Pete Yacht Club, along with Pat Seidenspinner, did a great job running the event. Every year we go there we have such a great time.'
Leroy, the 2007 ISAF Rolex Sailor of the Year and currently on the shortlist for 2008, went on to defeat Macgregor 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.
Organizers describe the racing as competitive and exciting, however the event was not without obstacles. 'We lost the entire day on Thursday due to high winds,' said Seidenspinner. 'We completed the first round-robin on Friday morning and decided there was no way we would be able to complete the scheduled second round-robin. Rather than start what would surely be a partial round-robin, we opted to go right into the semi-finals and conduct a consolation round-robin for the remaining six boats to decide fifth through tenth places at the same time. That format kept everyone sailing for almost all of the time.'
Rounding out the standings were Samantha Osborne (Kerikeri, NZL) in 5th, Katy Lovell (New Orleans, La., USA) in 6th, Anne-Claire Le Berre (Brest, FRA) in 7th, JoAnn Fisher (Annapolis, Md., USA) in 8th, Rachael Silverstein (St. Petersburg, Fla., USA) in 9th, and Sandy Hayes (Scituate, Mass., USA) in 10th place.
Now in its 12th 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.
Over the four days of racing in Sonar class keelboats, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s race committee ran 78 matches, consisting of one round-robin, two semi-final (first to win 3) matches, a consolation round-robin to determine fifth through tenth places, the 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 5-20 knots and plenty of sunshine.
Final results – 2008 Rolex Osprey Cup
October 22-25, 2008 at St. Petersburg Yacht Club
Final match: Giulia Conti defeated Debbie Capozzi, 3-1
Petit-Final match: Claire Leroy def. Lucy Macgregor, 3-1
Semi-Final match 1: Debbie Capozzi* def. Claire Leroy**, 3-1
Semi-Final match 2: Giulia Conti* def. Lucy Macgregor**, 3-2
*The win advanced her team to the final match.
**The win advanced her team to the petit-final (term for consolation match for third and fourth places).
Overall standings -- Skipper (hometown) with crew members:
1. Giulia CONTI (Toscolano Maderno, ITA) Alessandra Marenzi, Alessandra Angelini, Giovanna Micol
2. Debbie CAPOZZI (Bayport, N.Y., USA) Genny Tulloch, Molly O'Brien Vandemoer, Derby Anderson
3. Claire LEROY (Nantes, FRA) Elodie Bertrand, Marie Riou, Claire Pruvot, Laura Jeffers
4. Lucy MACGREGOR (Poole, GBR) Ally Martin, Georgie Blaver-Mann and Mary Rook
5. Samantha OSBORNE (Kerikeri, NZL) Carla Holgate, Jenna Hansen, Genoa Griffin Fedyszyn
6. Katy LOVELL (New Orleans, La., USA) Ann Graham, Elizabeth Kratzig, Chafee Emory
7. Anne-Claire LE BERRE (Brest, FRA) Marion Deplanque, Alice Ponsar, Jeanne Gregoire
8. JoAnn FISHER (Annapolis, Md., USA) Maegan Ruhlman, Linda Hiller, Casey Williams
9. Rachael SILVERSTEIN (St. Petersburg, Fla., USA) Darby Smith, Kristen Herman, Kelsee Connon
10. Sandy HAYES (Scituate, Mass., USA) Phyllis Karlberg, Cindy Olsen, Karen Park
For more information about the Rolex Osprey Cup, including results, go to www.rolexwomensmatch.org.