A couple of years ago, Maryland stepped into prime-time sailboat racing with the establishment of the Cadillac Columbus Cup, a regatta that drew some of the top male skippers in the world to Baltimore. This weekend, the city and the Columbus Cup Committee will introduce a similar regatta designed to attract top female skippers and crew members to the Inner Harbor.
The event is the Santa Maria Cup, three days of match races off the HarborView Marina and Yacht Club.
"There has been only one other women's match-racing competition in the world of this caliber," said Susan Taylor, executive director of the Columbus Cup and the Santa Maria Cup. "This, of course, is the first in the United States, and, given the interest in the upcoming America's Cup, we are hopeful it may be the start of something greater."
There is an international circuit for top skippers in men's match racing but no such competition for women.
The field drawn for the Santa Maria Cup includes seven teams from the United States and one from Italy. The series of round-robin races and the semifinal and final series will be sailed in J/22 sloops with a skipper and three crew members.
* Skipper Betsy Alison, Newport, R.I., three-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, college All-American, world champion. Crew: Kris McClintock, Nancy Hood, Liz Merrifield.
* Skipper Paola Ferrario, Genoa, Italy, Italian, European and world championship competitor in the Laser class and top woman match racer in Italy. Crew: Paola Porta, Maria Majolino, Laura D'Ali.
* Skipper Nance Frank, Annapolis, skipper of U.S. Women's Challenge for the 1993 Whitbread Around the World Race. Crew: Linda Stearns, Gail Haberlin, Amy Gibbons-Neff.
* J. J. Isler, San Diego, Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, ranked among the top 20 match racers in the world and world champion. Crew: Pam Healy, Martha MacKechnie, Louisa Eer.
* Cory Sertl, Rochester, N.Y., Goodwill Games gold medalist, member U.S. Olympic team, world champion. Crew: Dina Kowalyshyn, Amy Iverson, Joan Watts.
* Hannah Swett, Providence, R.I., member of No. 1-ranked Brown University sailing team, All-American, national champion. Crew: Melissa Purdy, Ellie Field, Sarah Ramsdell.
* Barbara Vosbury, Annapolis, actively campaigns all-woman crew on area J/24, Chesapeake Bay champion in several classes. Crew: Sandy Grosvenor, Joanne Schram, Margaret Podlich.
* Sandy Yellott, Baltimore, top bay racer and champion in several one-design classes. Crew: Dawn Riley, Jennifer Dunbar, Debbie Holt.
A female rockfish grown in a Maryland hatchery and released into the Patuxent River five years ago has become the first such fish to complete the natural cycle by returning to the river of its birth.
After its capture in the Patuxent this spring, the 10-pound fish was spawned at the Joseph Manning Hatchery April 25.
The program that raised and stocked this fish is a cooperative effort of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Artificially spawned, wild rockfish are reared in a hatchery before being returned to their native waters as 4- to 10-inch juveniles.
Before their release, the fish are fitted with coded, magnetic wire tags for reference.
The purpose of the program is to bolster the wild rockfish population and increase natural reproduction.
Santa Maria Cup
What: Santa Maria Cup, a women's match racing championship. Competition is based on round-robin eliminations, with the top four of eight teams meeting in the semifinals Saturday and the top two in the championship Sunday.
Where: The Inner Harbor, based at HarborView Marina and Yacht Club, with racing between the marina and Harrison's or between Fort McHenry and Canton.
When: Practice from 12:30 to 2 p.m. tomorrow. Racing begins at noon Friday and at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
BBoats and crews: All teams will sail J/22s, 22-foot sloops, with a skipper and three crew members aboard each.