Australia’s highest ranked match racing outfit, Wot Chicks, finished third overall at the grade 1 BoatU.S Santa Maria Cup sailed in Annapolis after being forced into a sudden death situation when the breeze failed to play ball on finals day.
With the schedule of races heavily cut to just one round robin, Wot Chicks lined up for a sudden death race on day four. The Aussie team managed to hang on to the final podium place but once again missed the opportunity to try their luck wrestling the throne from the red hot world number one.
'It was our second grade 1 of the year and second podium finish as well as the second event this season where we’ve made the semi finals but due to a lack of wind haven’t had the chance to fight for first place,' said skipper Katie Spithill while in transit to Europe.
At the outset the breeze made false promises with the practice day cancelled for the ten teams representing six countries as gusts above 24 knots whipped up the Severn River off the Eastport Yacht Club.
Day one of racing last Wednesday had Wot Chicks Katie Spithill and her crew of Stacey Jackson, Jessica Eastwell and Rayshele Martin jumping in at the deep end, their first match up on the J22 against world number one Claire Leroy.
The Aussies led off the line but were relegated to the back stalls following an upwind boat on boat situation with the indomitable French team.
A sign of what was to come, the wind died during the afternoon allowing only two flights to be completed.
Light winds continued on day two but competitors were able to squeeze every last ounce out of it, heading ashore having completed a respectable five flights.
Racing on day three was held back until 2pm and even then, only one flight was put to bed with the results of this one race significantly impacting the standings. Three teams were tied with five wins and one team with four wins and all were heading for the semi finals before an attempted second flight was cut short due to a severe thunderstorm.
Saturday’s pre-race forecast was for 15-20 knots and a tight finish but again the day was plagued by light air. The morning breeze held, allowing the race committee to get the final race of the round robin away with most matches finishing just before the breeze faded to a glass-out.
At this point organisers knew they could produce a final scoresheet should the breeze fail to return.
After five long hours and numerous attempts to start the semi finals, the regatta schedule that would have first placed Leroy racing fourth placed Liz Baylis (USA) and second placed Genny Tulloch (USA) taking on third placed Spithill was abandoned. Organisers instead decided to do away with the semis entirely and go straight into a first versus second and third versus fourth sail-off.
In the sail-off Wot Chicks beat Liz Baylis 1-0 to finish third overall while Leroy took two bullets from Tulloch.
Wot Chicks are now in Europe preparing for four match racing events, finishing with the World Championships in Lysekil in late July. They will continue to wear their Wot Chicks gear while competing in Europe as part of the Australian Sailing Development Squad. Wot Chicks’ upcoming European events:
Kiel Week – Germany – World Cup Event
Match Cup Sweden – Grade 1
Berlin Women’s Match Race – Grade 2
Lysekil Women’s Match Racing World Championships, Sweden – World Championship
BoatU.S Santa Maria Cup results at www.santamariacup.org/ Wot Chicks is proudly sponsored by Graeme Wood, co-founder of www.wotif.com