While the first day's heavy wind with 25-knot gusts showcased boat-handling skills, yesterday's shifty, light air put a premium on tactics at the event where 66 teams are competing in four-person International J/22s.
The critical juncture for the regatta was yesterday's second race, the fifth for the series, which - upon its completion - gave competitors the ability to discard their single worst race score. With yesterday's top-four overall performers turning in mediocre performances today, the door was kicked open for Sally BARKOW, the winner of today's first race, to climb from sixth to second overall behind Betsy ALISON. Alison, the event's five-time winner who finished 12-9 today, used her allowed discard to trim off a whopping 67 points from her final score. Alison and Barkow now share a 23 point score, with the tiebreaker going to Alison a five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. Molly O'BRYAN currently sits in third with 28 points. Alison, Barkow and O'Bryan are all US Sailing Team members.
In race one, the current and breeze delivered a double whammy to the fleet. At the start, many of the boats were well behind the line at the gun, and those boats that didn't head to the left side of the course suffered. Raising the spinnaker around the first top mark, Barkow's foredeck crew Debbie CAPOSI slipped and fell into the water.
"Yesterday we were having issues with putting the spinnaker up too fast,"
said Barkow. "Debbie is really strong, so today she got the chute out really well, but she pulled so hard that she pulled herself off the boat. The funny part was that she held onto the halyard as she was falling and was able to get the spinnaker all the way up. I reached over, grabbed her, and pulled her up onto the boat. The other two crew didn't even know she went over. We had rounded fourth or fifth and by the time we got to the leeward mark we were tenth or so."
On the next windward leg, Barkow made two quick tacks and cleared out to the right where she saw pressure. By the second weather mark, she was in the lead and carried it through to a victory margin of one and a half minutes. She finished fourth in race two.
"Whoever dove into the knocks lost,"
said Barkow. "We kept getting lifted and did well."
Nancy HABERLAND won yesterday's second race and currently sits in fifth. At the first weather mark, Alison rounded close behind her into a void of breeze and later made an error in judgement that took her into even lighter air.
"It's amazing how easy it is to lose it [the lead],"
said Haberland. "Like with Betsy, she jibed and went left, and we realized that wasn't going to work for us, so we jibed back the other way. She got killed fast and struggled with it.
"At one point on our run we were a quarter of a leg ahead of the fleet, but we were sweating it out the entire race, especially when the breeze would drop off. We were racing against the clock to finish within the two-hour time limit. We made it with only nine minutes to spare."
Alison said of her overall lead at day's end: "I wasn't expecting to be back on top of the fleet. We had what I thought were two keeper races, but in a perfect world, we would have liked to be higher.
"We'll keep our eyes open for the real players tomorrow but it's too early to start targeting individuals. Tomorrow our plan is to just attack the race course."
Karleen DIXON, who led after day one's races, fell to fourth yesterday, counting her 32 in race one as her throwout and keeping an 18. Mary BRIGDEN fell from second to sixth, with race finishes of 14 and 26, the latter of which she used for her throwout. Paula Lewin fell from third to seventh with finishes of 13-6 today.
The Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship continues today with two scheduled races and concludes on Friday. Daily reports and photos are posted on the event website at the address below. Additional regatta info, including live mark rounding positions and individual race finishes, are posted as they occur.