With the completion of the full double round-robin portion of the 20th annual BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup international women’s match-racing regatta this afternoon, six of the 10 highly-ranked teams of female sailors went home early while the top four teams advanced to the semi-finals.

Of these teams, three are among the top contenders to represent the U.S. in the new women’s match-racing discipline at the 2012 Olympics, and the fourth is defending BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup champion Claire Leroy, from Nantes, France, who held the top international ranking spot for an unprecedented run of nearly five years before slipping to the number two spot in April.

When racing ended this afternoon, two flights of the semi-final round had been completed and each team had won one race. The series will come down to the best three races of five before the final round begins.

Sally Barkow of Nashota, Wisconsin, a former Olympian and Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year for 2005 and 2007 and three-time winner of this regatta, took the top spot in the fleet after winning every race in the second half of the round robin and losing only two in the first half, with Anna Tunnicliffe of Fort Lauderdale, the reigning Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and skipper of one of two U.S. Sailing Team Alphagraphics, in second with one loss in each half of the round-robin. Although their point totals are the same, Barkow earned the top spot by virtue of beating Tunnicliffe in each of their two meetings. 

Barkow is facing fourth-place round-robin finisher Genny Tulloch, from San Francisco, the other U.S. Sailing Team Alphagraphics skipper, in the semi-finals, while Tunnicliffe is paired against third-place Leroy.

The regatta, which is being sailed out of Eastport Yacht Club in J/22s on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, continues through Saturday, when the winners of the semi-final round will meet in the final round and the other two will sail a petit-final series.

Sailing with Barkow are Elizabeth Kratzig, Suzy Leech, and Jennifer Wilson. Tunnicliffe’s team includes Molly Vandemoer, Debbie Capozzi, and Liz Bower, while Molly Carapiet, Katie Pettibone, and Jen Chamberlin are sailing with Tulloch. Leroy’s crew includes Elodie Bertrand, Marie Riou, and Claire Pruvot.

Conditions today continued hot with light air and lumpy seas, adding to the challenges of competition. 

“We had some definite up and down races,” Barkow said. “When the light air comes in the angles get wider and it’s a little more tricky, the decisions get a little more difficult.”

With a straight run through today’s seven flights of the round-robin, Barkow’s team is demonstrating remarkable consistency.

“We’re working on the fine details now,” she explained, “figuring out when to communicate and when to just concentrate on the boat speed.”

With another hot day with light air predicted for Saturday, the field may have narrowed, but the regatta is far from over.

“We still have to win two more races tomorrow,” Barkow said. “And then there’s the finals.”

Live scores and updates from the water and more information are available on the event website, www.boatussantamariacup.org.

The regatta concludes with the awards party at Eastport Yacht Club Saturday evening. The public is invited to attend; a $30 cover charge includes dinner, drinks, and dancing to live music.

BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup

Semi-Final Results
Sally Barkow (1-1) vs. Genny Tulloch (1-1)
Anna Tunnicliffe (1-2) vs. Claire Leroy (1-1)

Double Round Robin Results

  1. Sally Barkow, USA (10), 16-2
  2. Anna Tunnicliffe, USA (6), 16-2
  3. Claire Leroy, FRA (2), 15-4
  4. Genny Tulloch, USA (11), 13-5
  5. Julie Bossard, FRA (8), 9-9
  6. Anne-Claire LeBerre, FRA (7), 9-9
  7. Juliana Senfft, BRA (19), 6-12
  8. Maegan Ruhlman, USA (48), 3-15
  9. Sarah Bury, CAN (67), 2-16
  10. Raquelhora Aimone, BRA (66), 0-18