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8 August 2007, 11:31 am
First Ever Junior Road To Rolex Clinic A Success
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The competitors at the 2005 Rolex IWKC

Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship 2007
La Porte, Texas, USA

This past weekend, 18 youth sailors took part in the first Junior Road to Rolex Clinic, held at Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, Mass. The two-day keelboat clinic is a new initiative of US SAILING and Rolex to support junior women sailors in making the transition from dinghies to keelboats and with an eye toward future competition in the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship (Rolex IWKC).
The girls - ranging in age from 14-18 and travelling from as far away as California and St Croix -also had participated in the US Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship, a US SAILING National Championship that preceded the clinic. Coaching and classroom instruction featured US Sailing Team member (470 women) Molly O'BRYAN VANDEMOER while the Sonar keelboats and housing were generously provided by the Sonar Class Association and Eastern Yacht Club with organization by Deborah NOBLE.

Although most girls admitted to a mild case of pre-clinic nerves, all of the participants found that once they put their new-found skills into action, their confidence increased in steering or crewing a Sonar. For some, this was the first time at trying spinnaker handling. 'Being on the bow is crazy,' said 15 year old Marissa LIHAN of her spinnaker jibing experience. 'But I liked it!'

Afterward, some of the girls talked about getting a team together for the Rolex IWKC. With a little over two months until the big league event begins, there is time to charter a boat and begin a training schedule. Who knows, maybe they'll wind up in a jibing duel with Vandemoer who will be crewing for skipper and fellow US Sailing Team member Anna TUNNICLIFFE. This year's biennial Rolex IWKC will take place from 14-17 November at the Houston Yacht Club in La Porte, Texas.

Dana Paxton (As Amended By ISAF)
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