From September 23-28 legends in American sailing such as Betsy Alison, Courtenay Dey, Pease Glaser, Cory Sertl, Jody Swanson and Susan Dierdorff-Taylor will compete in the 9th Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship (IWKC) in Annapolis.
The revised biennial regatta has attracted a huge fleet of 62 teams from across the U.S. and abroad, smashing all previously set participation records. This is the first time the regatta will be held on Chesapeake Bay and in identical J/22 keelboats. And also for the first time the victor will receive a Rolex timepiece.
Defending Rolex IWKC champion Pat Connerney (Middletown, R.I.) will return to try and reclaim her crown. Among the skippers she will face are two of her winning '99 crew: Carol Cronin (Jamestown, R.I.) and Melissa Ferdinandi (Jamestown, R.I.). Connerney's other two crew from '99, Kim Hapgood (Newport, R.I.) and Louisa Boatwright (Providence, R.I.), will sail with her again. Rounding out the team is 1988 Olympic Gold Medallist and Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Lynne Shore.
Five-time Rolex IWKC champion and five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.) also will return to competition after sitting out the '99 event. She will serve as tactician aboard West Coast sailor Deneen Demourkas' entry. Demourkas (Santa Barbara, Calif.) has already made an impression in the ultra-competitive Farr 40 class helming her Groovederci. This will be the first international regatta for her aboard J/22s and in such distinguished company.
In addition to Alison, there are six other Rolex Yachtswomen of the Year in the fleet, making this one of the deepest talent pools of any regatta, anywhere in the world.
For a boat stacked with talent, look no farther than Cory Sertl's team. The 1995 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, Sertl from Rochester, N.Y., has recruited one of 2000's most celebrated sailors, Olympic 470 women's Silver Medallist and Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Pease Glaser (Long Beach, Calif.), as her tactician. Rounding out her team are 1987 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Susan Dierdorff-Taylor (Annapolis, Md.) and accomplished coach and one-design sailor Dina Kowalyshyn (Annapolis, Md.).
Returning for her second time as skipper in the Rolex IWKC is 1996 Olympic Europe Bronze Medallist and two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Courtenay Dey (Westerly, R.I.). Hers is another boat packed with hot names including America's Cup competitor Suzy Leech (Avon, Conn.) and Adams Cup champion Linda Wennerstrom (Key Biscayne, Fla.). They will be joined by Clemmie Everett (Greenwich, Conn.), who, at 17, is making her debut in international women's competition. Everett is the first Next Step program graduate (class of '97) to compete in the Rolex IWKC. The Next Step program is a Rolex IWKC mentoring program, which gives junior sailors the opportunity to learn from and interact with the world's top female sailors.
Other Teams to Watch
In addition to the gathering of established talent, some legends in the making also will be competing.
Three-time college All-American sailor Kaya Haig (Boston University '01, San Francisco, Calif.) has recruited college sailing alumni Lee Icyda (Tufts '01/All-American, Stuart, Fla.), Annika Leerson (Stanford '00, San Francisco, Calif.) and Elizabeth Kratzig (Yale '96, Corpus Christi, Texas). The mighty foursome will draw on extensive college sailing experience for a first-time appearance at the Rolex IWKC and Haig's first international regatta.
Regatta Co-Chair Sandy Grosvenor (Annapolis, Md.) will helm her own boat, drawing on her extensive experience in match racing, J/22 sailing and regatta management. Sailing with her will be former America's Cup crew Liz Baylis (San Rafael, Calif.), Marsha Malkin and Idarae Prothero (both Annapolis, Md.).
High school senior Derby Anderson (Annapolis, Md.) will be leading the only under-18 team in the regatta. Her accomplished crew includes Lucy Kupersmith (Annapolis, Md.), Liz Levitt (Annapolis, Md.) and Sarah Shattuck. All four regularly compete in the 420 class. With "the opportunity to learn" as their guiding beacon, the four are sailing together for the first time in their first keelboat regatta.
The "Hot Flash" team from Minnesota - Carol Pine, Jan Nielsen, Jan Rupert and Terry Jewett - is made up of a diverse group of accomplished women sailors who, as their name implies, all are over the age of 50. With their program, which has put them in the national media spotlight, the team aims to accomplish three goals: to transform the way women over 50 see themselves and their potential; to inspire women over 50 to pursue their passions; and to challenge stereotypes applied to mature women.
International teams from Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Japan and South Africa are eager to take on what has become an American stronghold in women's keelboat sailing.
Jane Moon and her Cayman Islands crew of Jane Fleming, Pam McDonough and Lindsey Macfee, return for the third year, coming off a fourth place at the J/22 National championship. "With the change of event to the J/22 and Annapolis, we believe the competition will be a bit tougher but are aiming to do our best and looking to have a successful and fun regatta," said Moon.
Two-time Olympian Paula Lewin has represented Bermuda in the Rolex IWKC before, but this will be her first time skippering. She brings with her Leatrice Roman, Peta Lewin and Lisa Neasham, who have been very successful in women's match racing, winning the Santa Maria Cup and the Reed and Barton Cup three times.