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16 November 2007, 10:51 am
Olympic Hopeful BARKOW Blasts into the Lead
Sally BARKOW and her team in action
Sally BARKOW and her team in action

Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship 2007
Shoreacres, Texas, USA

Three…two…one…blast off! That familiar sound from nearby NASA Johnson's Space Centre is also the scoreline of Olympic hopeful Sally BARKOW's race results on Thursday at US SAILING's Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship.
With a total score of 11 points, Sally BARKOW and her team - Debbie CAPOZZI, Annie LUSH and Amanda CALLAHAN - lead the 39-boat fleet racing out of the Houston Yacht Club in Shoreacres, Texas.

"We were a little bit jet lagged yesterday and we had to get used to the boat," said BARKOW of her quick jump into the International J/22 keelboat after match racing in slightly larger boats at last week's Vitória Brasil Women's Cup, which she won. "We kind of had to force ourselves to wake up and get moving. We are taking it one day at a time. It was a good day today."

Wednesday's leader Cory SERTL slipped into third-place overall, a mere eight points behind after discarding a seventh place result from day one. The regatta's sailing instructions allow competitors to throwout their worst result once six races are completed in the series.

Moving up into second place is Annapolis' Derby ANDERSON. "To have won a race and be in with all the good guys feels really good," said ANDERSON of her solid 2,4,6 results today. "I finished tenth last time [in 2005] and people were asking me how we were going to do this time. I didn't even know how we were going to get into the top 10. Katherine [WADE] has never sailed this type of regatta; she's only done college sailing. It's a great learning curve we've had."

Of the challenging 15-20 knot winds that were shifty and gusty at times, ANDERSON said that their crew weight was a factor. "We are light, 40 lbs light," said ANDERSON, regarding the combined crew weight limit. "I've sailed in breeze before in these, and the main was always ragging. We finally figured out how to tune the boat and trim the sails because nothing was ragging all day. It's because of Greg Fisher's clinic, the Road to Rolex Clinic. Overall, we are really happy together, never having done a regatta together before."

For local sailor Julie GOETSCHIUS, satisfaction at the end of the day comes from performance, but also inspires her and her team of Emma BROWNING, Lisa SIMPKINS and Phyllis GROUNDS.

"This is a great regatta for women," she said. "I think that this is an opportunity for a number of women to show themselves that they can do so much. The Olympians already know what they can do. Those who don't sail on a regular basis come out and they learn they can do some things they didn't think they could ever do."

Of the focus needed to excel in today's challenging conditions - a marked change from yesterday's hot temperatures and moderate wind - GOETSCHIUS said, "It was a lot more exciting for those who can drive through the chop. The starts were pretty exciting. We had two real good starts and one poor one; the good ones were race 1 and 3 when we came off the [starting] line with speed. Driving in the chop gives you more confidence, having done this before. If you have that experience, then you can do well."

The top local boat continues to be RIFT, in seventh place and skippered by Chelsea BETHANCOURT, the youngest skipper at the regatta.

On Thursday night the competitors were treated to an exclusive visit to NASA's Johnson Space Centre, where the daily first awards and the Kaenon Award, awarded to the team with the lowest score of the day. Racing continues through to Saturday and is hosted at the Houston Yacht Club.

Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship - www.ussailing.org/riwkc
Dana Paxton (As Amended By ISAF)
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