Cory Sertl of Rochester, N.Y., has taken the lead after two races yesterday at the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship taking place in Annapolis, Maryland, USA.
Yesterday's big winds and rollers on Chesapeake Bay gave way to steady 12-14 knot breezes and chop, setting the stage for any of a dozen or more of the regatta's top contenders to have a fair shot at edging past yesterday's leader Nancy Haberland of Annapolis, Md.
Although Sertl and crew finished a noteworthy 4-1 in today's races, they were surprised to find they were at the top of the leader board when they arrived back to shore. Scoring allows for a drop race after five are completed, and with opening day's three races combined with today's, the mathematical adjustment changed Sertl's one-point lag behind Haberland into a four point lead over her. "Because of the conditions, we definitely could focus more today," said Sertl, one of six Rolex Yachtswomen of the Year competing and one of a dozen or more here who have launched Olympic Yngling campaigns for 2004.
In today's first race, Haberland climbed from 12th at the first windward mark of a two-lap course to ninth at the finish while Sertl rose from sixth. Sertl nailed a pin-end start in the second race to port tack the fleet and sail off to an easy victory and a healthy one-minute lead over second-place finisher Paula Lewin of Bermuda. Haberland counted a solid fourth in that race and discarded her earlier ninth for scoring purposes, while Sertl threw out yesterday's sixth in the second race. "We were set up for a little more breeze than we got today," said a disappointed Haberland, "so the rig was a little tight."
Carol Cronin of Newport, R.I., who won a race yesterday and finished 3-7 today is only one point out of second place, while Lewin is in fourth on equal points with Courtenay Dey. The Olympic Bronze Medallist from Westerly, R.I. seems to be slowly but surely getting to grips with the J/22, a boat with which she is not all that familiar.
Deneen Demourkas, the Californian Farr 40 sailor, clearly felt more at home in the lighter conditions. Racing with five-time winner of this event, Betsy Alison, she took the first race by the scruff of the neck and won it by some margin. Alison said their success came down to patience. "We were patient with the shifts and we were patient with the gusts. We were happy to let things come to us and they did in that race."
But the next race saw a return to the teens, which is where this team has placed in all their other races. The Demourkas/Alison partnership could only manage 14th in the second race of the day, with Alison admitting that her reading of the wind had not quite gone to plan. Things were to get even more complicated when they stepped ashore, with Alison dragged into a protest with the only Canadian team present, skippered by Anne Marie Shewfelt.
The lighter conditions saw a much more tightly bunched fleet today, with a flurry of protest flags the inevitable result. The jury are in for a busy evening at the Annapolis Yacht Club.
After a solid start to the defense of her Rolex title yesterday, the reigning champion Pat Connerney of Middletown, R.I., suffered in the moderate conditions today, notching up finishes of 12-18, which demoted her to eighth place overall.
With five races completed, the series is already halfway through, and Cory Sertl has so far established herself as the class act of this 61-boat fleet. The Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship continues tomorrow with two scheduled races and concludes Friday. A link with the Annapolis Yacht Club web site will take viewers to more regatta info, including live mark rounding positions and individual race finishes as they occur. Daily reports and photos are posted at www.ussailing.org.
Provisional results after five races:
1 Cory Sertl 2--2-4-1, 9.0 pts
2 Nancy Haberland 1-4-4--4, 13.0 pts
3 Carol Cronin 5 1 5 3 , 14.0 pts
4 Paula Lewin 4-2-9--2, 17.0 pts
5 Courtenay Dey -5-3-6-3, 17.0 pts
6 Jody Swanson 3--7-5-5, 20.0 pts
7 Margaret Podlich 6-8--2-6, 22.0 pts
8 Patricia Connerney 10-3-1-12-, 26.0 pts
9 Deneen Demourkas 15-13--1-14, 43.0 pts
10 Kaya Haig 18-14-11-7-, 50.0 pts