The race committee boat at the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship is called Full Moon. But what the committee and the 42-boat field lacked from morning to midafternoon yesterday was full sails.
Light winds delayed the start of competition for four hours, giving sailors bobbing at the mouth of the Severn River time to work on their tans, do a little office work on their cell phones and visit with each other.
Even when the starting gun finally sounded to mark the first of five days of racing, the 4-knot breezes barely filled the sails of the 22-foot boats as they made their way toward the Eastern Shore. The regatta got its second wind - literally - in the second race of the day.
Defending champion Sally Barkow finished third in the first race and roared back to lead the second race from start to finish.
"We pulled the trigger at the right time," said Barkow of Nashotah, Wis. "We were hoping for a little sea breeze and we got it."
Jody Swanson, of Buffalo, N.Y., a former Rolex Yachtswomen of the Year, finished second in both races and holds that position overall.
Cory Sertl, the winner of the 2001 edition of the championship, took the first race, but stumbled in the second race to ninth place, leaving her third overall.
The Rolex, considered one of the most competitive women's keelboat regattas in the world, has been held biennially since 1985.
Sertl moved out smartly in the first race and led at the end of the first upwind leg. The Rochester, N.Y., sailor lengthened her lead in each of the subsequent legs and won by at least five boat lengths. She finished the race in 53 minutes.
At the start, Sertl correctly steered to the right side of the course, which paid off when the wind shifted to the right.
"I got lucky. I had a nice lane of breeze," Sertl said, laughing. "It's really easy when you're out in front of the other boats."
Carol Cronin, the skipper of the U.S. entry in the Yngling class at the Athens Olympics, finished the first leg just behind Sertl, but faded to sixth place. She finished the second race in sixth, leaving her in fifth place overall.
One of her teammates at the Olympics, Liz Filter of Stevensville, is crewing for Lorie Stout of Annapolis. Stout steered her boat to a fifth-place and a seventh-place finish, good for fourth overall.
Weather forecasters are predicting better conditions on the Chesapeake Bay today, with winds building to 12-15 knots and gusting to 20 knots.