Not such smooth sailing on Day 1

Choppy Chesapeake greets 61 keelboats in international race


September 25, 2001|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

With 18-knot winds and 5-foot swells, competitors in the Rolex Women's International Keelboat Championship yesterday found themselves living the motto of another watch company - they took a licking and kept on ticking.

Sixty-one boats rolled and bounced around on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River on the first of five days of racing.

For many of the world-class sailors, the Rolex race is a chance to size up the competition with an eye toward the 2004 Olympics, which will include keelboat racing for the first time. The Rolex field includes Olympians, Whit- bread Round the World racers, America's Cup veterans and winners of the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award.

"They don't often get a chance to sail against each other in huge fleet conditions," said Dana Paxton, a Rolex spokeswoman. "You'll see this regatta break into two groups, the elite of international racing and those who are getting an introduction to it."

In the former category are Betsy Alison, the five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, defending regatta champion Pat Connerney, 2000 Olympic silver medalist Pease Glaser and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist Courtenay Becker Dey.

Among those in the latter category is Derby Anderson, a 17-year-old high school senior from Annapolis who is leading the only under-18 team on the water: Liz Levitt of Harwood, Sarah Shattuck of Oxford and Lucy Kupersmith of Alexandria, Va.

The girls normally sail 420 dinghies, with the Rolex only the third regatta they've sailed in the larger J/22s. But they appeared confident despite that handicap and being surrounded by their sailing heroes.

"In awe? Oh, yeah, definitely," Anderson said. "But you have to keep your composure and not lose sight of anything. Hopefully, with the length of the regatta, we'll get the chance to improve and move up."

Last week, the girls competed in the East Coast J/22 Championship in Annapolis and finished in the top third of the 60 boats.

Anderson and her crew on the "Broadside" weren't the only ones with a case of the nerves, as the false start of Race 1 proved. Once under way, the competitors sailed four legs for a total of five miles.

Nancy Haberland of Annapolis, winner of the East Coast J/22 Championship and a Naval Academy sailing coach, took first, with Cory Sertl of Rochester, N.Y., in second and Jody Swanson of Buffalo, N.Y., in third.

The race committee kept the same course for the second and third races. The average time for each race was 1 hour, 25 minutes.

The second race was won by Carol Cronin of Jamestown, R.I., with Paula Lewin, representing the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, in second and Connerney, of Middleton, R.I., in third. The third race of the day was won by Connerney, with Sertl in second and Dey in third.

In the cumulative standings, Haberland was first, followed by Sertl and Cronin. Anderson and her crew were in 22nd. (Full results and standings are at

Seven more races are scheduled for the week. Any that must be postponed can be run on subsequent days, except for Friday, when only one race will be held.

Last week, organizers were worried that security concerns and transportation difficulties might reduce the field. But only two teams were no-shows: a crew from Japan and one from Louisiana.

Teams from Bermuda, Canada, the Cayman Islands and South Africa made it, with the South African contingent subjected to eight hours in security lines and a 30-hour flight.

As might be expected, Maryland has the most entries at 17, but Minnesota and California are next with six each.

(Day 1 of 5)

Series standings

(After 3 races) Top 10 skippers of 61 1. Nancy Haberland; 2. Lucy Cory Sertl; 3. Bess Carol Cronin; 4. Patricia Connerney; 5. Paula Lewin; 6. Courtenay Becker Dey; 7. Chunder Jody Swanson; 8. Margaret Podlich; 9. Missy Ferdinandi; 10. Kaya Haig.

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