Hannah Swett and Paula Lewin sailed three races yesterday, first to determine the semifinal seedings in the Santa Maria Cup women's match-racing regatta, and then to decide one of the two berths in today's final.
Swett swept all three, but not before Lewin, sailing in her first match racing regatta, had a chance to sail away with a victory in the second semifinal race -- and watched the opportunity slip away.
At the top mark on the first leg, after Swett had won the first match of their best-of-three semifinal, Lewin and her crew from M.I.T. rounded the mark with the lead, but a sail-handling mistake allowed Swett to sail past.
"There had been a couple of lead changes on the first leg," said Swett, who finished third in this regatta last year. "But they made a bad spinnaker set, and we were able to take the lead and extend it."
In both their semifinal races and the last round-robin match against Lewin, Swett said he crew handled itself well.
"They were incredible today," Swett said. "We had no sail-handling errors -- none -- and that is the difference between being in or out of the final."
Lewin, whose crew is fresh from a superb college sailing season, said Friday that spinnaker work was not part of their normal racing routine. Until yesterday they had handled their sail changes well.
Julia Trotman and Dawn Riley were matched in the other semifinal, and Riley had a chance to repeat her performance of last year, when she slipped into the semifinals and eventually won the regatta.
Yesterday, in the last match of the round-robin series, Riley managed to slip past Mary Brigden Snow a few yards from the finish line to qualify for the semifinals.
"It was pretty depressing. Do we really have to talk about it?" Snow said. "We let her get to the right side and paid the price for it."
At the start of the last downwind leg against Snow, Riley bore away to the right side of the course, while Snow went left and did not cover her opponent.
But against Trotman, Riley was unable to take a lead in either race.
"I discovered that I liked being a little bit ahead coming to the [starting] line," said Trotman, who has a 10-1 record in this regatta. "We were a little ahead both times with Dawn, and with each tack we did I felt we could gain a little margin."
In yesterday's racing, the wind was the strongest it has been in the regatta, ranging up to 15 knots, and conditions were well suited to match racing, where boats must sail in close contact with each other rather than looking for fluky changes on the course.
"But today I think we proved that we are good in a breeze," Trotman said. "We are psyched for whatever [weather] we get today."
Swett and Trotman will square off in the best-of-three final at 10 a.m.
'Didn't I tell you [Trotman] would be hot this week," Riley said. "She has the boat speed and the smarts.
"Hannah has more experience, but Julia has been sailing well. It should be good racing."
Race 9 -- Trotman def. Corrado; Johnson def. Madrigali; Swett def. Lewin; Burton def. Berge; Riley def. Snow.
(Best of three)
Trotman def. Riley, 2-0
Swett def. Lewin, 2-0
No. Sailor.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..W-L
1. Julia Trotman, New York.. .. .. .. .. .8-1
2. Hannah Swett, Rh. Island.. .. .. .. .. 7-2
3. Paula Lewin, Bermuda.. .. .. .. .. .. .6-3
Dawn Riley, New Zealand.. .. .. .. .. .. .6-3
4. Mary Brigden Snow, Calif... .. .. .. ..5-4
Karen Johnson, Canada.. .. .. .. .. .. ...5-4
5. Diane Burton, Annapolis.. .. .. .. .. .4-5
6. Melinda Berge, Baltimore.. .. .. .. ...3-6
Lynda Corrado, Calif... .. .. .. .. ...1-8
7. Susie Madrigali, Calif... .. .. .. .. .0-9