Women meet match in Santa Maria


Earlier in the year, the organizers of the Santa Maria Cup, an all-women's match-racing regatta, wanted to move the event from Baltimore's Inner Harbor to Annapolis.

Trouble was, racing judges, event volunteers and sponsors were perfectly pleased with the way the regatta had been run the past two years and had no desire to move.

"So, we are back," said Susan D. Taylor, chairman of the regatta. "And there are good reasons for that -- we sail where people can see us, there are good winds in the Inner Harbor and the facilities at HarborView are first-rate."

The event, which starts Thursday, has attracted another top-flightfield for its third running, including last year's winner, Dawn Riley, Olympic medalist and Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Julia Trotman, Annapolis Olympian Diane Burton, two-time third-place finisher Hannah Swett and Karen Johnson, Canada's top female match racer.

"This is sort of a different type of racing for a lot of these women," said Taylor, who was the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year five years ago.

"In every regatta, you want to make the boat go as fast as you can, but in match racing, the tactics change. Instead of racing against a number of other boats that can cause a number of things to happen, you are up against only one other boat."

So in addition to speed, skippers in this regatta also must sail defensively to keep their opponent from breaking away and taking advantage of better wind angles on different areas of the course.

"In the little bit of match racing I have done, I have fared poorly," said Taylor. "But you can bet that these women have been practicing."

Johnson, for example, has been sailing against Jim Brady and other J-22 match racers in the area. And all the competitors will attend a match-racing seminar on Wednesday, the day before racing begins.

Thursday's racing starts at noon and Friday through Sunday the racing starts at 10 a.m.

Shoreside viewing areas are HarborView Marina and Yacht Club on Key Highway and the Bay Cafe in Canton.

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