"We're very excited," said Anna Tunnicliffe (USA), one of the nominees for the 2009 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards as well as an Olympic gold medallist and a member of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. "We wanted to win this event for a while and finally we've done it. We're super psyched!" Both Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi also are members of US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics.
After Friday's disappointing day off from racing, due to lack of suitable wind conditions, the fleet was anxious to get out onto the Lake Ontario race course. With only one day of racing and three races completed, Tunnicliffe lead the 35-boat fleet with a narrow two-point margin over Jennifer Provan (CAN). The final standings would come down to Saturday, the final day scheduled for racing. The RYC Race Committee, lead by Principal Race Officer Hank Stuart, took advantage of the spectacular conditions - 15-18 knots of wind - and held three races.
"We were really happy about our first day," continued Tunnicliffe, 2008 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. "None of us have fleet raced for at least two months, and we are all a bit rusty in our fleet race tactics. Once we got a chance to get our heads around the tactics, we got locked in and dialed in, and we did really, really well."
Her team's five-race score line was 3, 6, 1, 1 1 and with an unbeatable margin they decided not to participate in the final race. "It's one of those big decisions, do you race or do you not? We felt we wanted to stay out of everyone's way. We knew it was close for second [place], so thought we would stay out of the way and not influence anything."
The final race, with 10-12 knots of wind, was won by Nicole Breault (USA) with Amanda Taselaar (USA) in second and Carol Cronin (USA) in third.
"It was so nice to have good breeze," said Breault. "The wave action made the shifty-ness really about boat speed, and we finally started to click as a team. It felt really good and the day was great. We wish there were a couple more days of racing, but that's the way it goes."
Second overall was Cory Sertl (USA), who counts this regatta as her 11th (including two wins in 1985 and 2001). She clearly relished having the regatta on her home waters at her home club. "It was really fun sailing and great to be out there," said Sertl, a two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. Her 'Team Lucy' included Annemarie Cook, Jane Mastrandrea and Amy Moran. Sertl's and Moran's daughters, Katja and Merritt, sailed together. They finished 13th overall. "They did just fine," continued a beaming Sertl. "They were really fast today off the starting line and held it for a really long time. Their speed was awesome today."
For Cronin, who won the regatta in 1991 as crew, her overall third place finish is satisfying. According to Cronin, who marks this regatta as her ninth, her results were starting to look like a terrible trend. "I won this event in 1999," she said. "I was second in 2001, third in 2003, fourth in 2005, and that was my goal, to break the curse.
"We had a great day today," continued Cronin of her 'Team Spidey,' Kim Couranz, Margaret Podich and Kate Fears. "We worked really well together, and I thought it was a challenging day of sailing because the waves were ahead of the breeze." Three teams finished the regatta tied on points - Cronin, Dominique Provoyeur (RSA) and Provan. A countback system, detailed in the Sailing Instructions, was used to break the tie, putting Provoyeur into fourth and Provan in fifth.
"We can't really be too disappointed," said Provoyeur, who has competed in this regatta four times. "The fourth is our best result yet, but obviously when you are so close you think what could have gone better. I woke up this morning a little anxious for the final day of racing and knowing there was a bit on. There was breeze and we were in a position close to first. We tried to take the attitude that we want to go sailboat racing, but the wind was up and the swell was bigger than what we had had. We tried to start well and see what would happen, really one race at a time." Provoyeur sailed with Louise Meek, Tiffany Baring-Gould and Saskia Butcher.
Rounding out the top 10 teams: Provan in fifth, Marieke Poulie (NED) in sixth, Taselaar in seventh, Breault in eighth, Jo Ann Fisher (USA) in ninth and Kaitlin Storck (USA).
Until this regatta, Tunnicliffe had held the record as the youngest competitor, having set the mark as a 14-year-old skipper in 1997. At that time, she confided that one day she would win the regatta. "I always thought it would be cool to do really well one day," she said. "This is my fifth time sailing the regatta, my fourth time skippering it. We were getting to the point that we need to get up there sometime soon. I'm happy we sailed really well together and did so well. I have a fabulous crew. Debbie, Molly and Liz sailed together a few times before, and the chemistry has worked perfectly. It makes my life so easy on the race course and they make me look really good."
The 2011 Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship will be held at the Rochester Yacht Club.
Rolex Watch U.S.A. is the title sponsor with national sponsorship from Atlantis, Dry Creek Vineyard, Kattack and PredictWind. Other sponsors to date include: Shumway Marine, Home Care of Rochester, Triliant Jewelers, Monroe County Sports Commission, Lake Beverage, West Marine and North Sails. The Rolex IWKC is a US SAILING Championship and hosted by the Rochester Yacht Club.
Results - click here