Hot and sticky conditions with the threat of thunderstorms were not enough to stifle racing today, and the 20th annual BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup international women’s match-racing regatta continued with an additional six flights, completing the first half of the double round-robin phase and two of the remaining nine in the second half in breezes ranging from 5 to 12 knots before the breeze died in the face of an oncoming line of squalls.

American Olympic gold medalist and 2009 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe and her team currently are at the top of the leaderboard with only one loss in the first half and wins in both of the second half contests for an impressive 10-1 record so far.  

“It was good today,” Tunnicliffe said. “We waited long enough for the good breeze to come in. It was tricky with the storms to the south shifting the wind around.”

Sailing with Tunnicliffe are her U.S. Sailing Team Alphagraphics teammates Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi, along with Liz Bower.

The regatta, which began Tuesday and will run through Saturday on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, is being sailed on J/22 sloops out of Eastport Yacht Club by 10 teams of the top female match-racing sailboat racers in the world, including seven of the top 20. 

Tunnicliffe explained that the keys to doing well here include sailing clean to avoid a penalty from the on-water umpires and sailing smart to avoid making mistakes.

Tunnicliffe and her team, eyes focused on the new women’s match-racing event in the 2012 London Olympics, are using this event as a training exercise as well as serious competition. “We’re sailing well,” she said, “working on some parts of our game, but there is still a lot of racing ahead. There are plenty of good teams here and any one of them can jump on you if you make a mistake.”

Defending champion Claire Leroy of France finished the first half of the round robin with wins in seven of the nine races, and added two more victories in the early second half, while American Sally Barkow, who has won this regatta three times previously, has an equivalent record, and handed Tunnicliffe her only loss so far in today’s second race, the seventh flight in the first half of the round-robin.

American Genny Tulloch is not far behind with eight wins to date, including seven in the first half of the round-robin. Like Tunnicliffe and Barkow, she, too, has her eye on the U.S. slot for the 2012 Olympics, heightening the excitement surrounding this regatta.

Brazilians Juliana Senfft and Raquelhora Aimone did not race in the seventh flight, and will have to make it up later, so their totals are one short of the others’.

The Women’s International Match Racing Association (WIMRA) and National Sailing Hall of Fame are holding a Garden Party honoring the competitors and umpires of the 20th Anniversary BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup tomorrow evening, Friday, June 4, at 7 p.m. at Historic Annapolis Foundation’s Paca House, 186 Prince George Street.  The party is open to the public, and net proceeds will benefit WIMRA. Tickets are $25 and are available at the Eastport Yacht Club bar or by contacting Susan Nahmias or 410-990-9001.

For more information and live results and commentary from the water, go to the event website, 

BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup
Results, Round-Robin 1 & 2
Anna Tunnicliffe, USA (6), 10-1
Claire Leroy, FRA (2), 9-2
Sally Barkow, USA (10), 9-2
Genny Tulloch, USA (11), 8-3
Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA (7), 6-5
Julie Bossard, FRA (8), 5-6
Juliana Senfft, BRA (19), 3-7
Sarah Bury, CAN (67), 2-9
Maegan Ruhlman, USA (48) 1-10
Raquelhora Aimone, BRA (66) 1-9