Thursday, 8 October 2009
Last minute boat prep. Image copyright Joanna Tunnicliffe.
by Anna Tunnicliffe
Tonight is the eve of the International Women’s Keelboat Championships here in Rochester, NY. We are sailing J/22’s and racing is scheduled to start tomorrow and continues through Saturday. There are 36 teams competing from five countries, including USA, CAN, NED, RSA, and GBR. On top of the international competition, there is a wide age range in the competitors, with the oldest competitor being 80 years old and the youngest being 10 years old. I am sailing with my team of Liz Bower, Molly Vandemoer, and Debbie Capozzi.
Leading into the event, Liz and I participated as coaches in the Rolex Next Step program. It is a program designed to introduce young girls into keelboat sailing. We had 23 girls sailing with us from all over the country. In total we had 6 boats sailed by the girls and one coach per boat. We had two days of fantastic wind for the girls to master their boat handling. By the end of the two days, the boat handling was fantastic and the girls were ready to compete in this week’s event, if they wanted to. One of the teams that participated in the program is competing in the event. Debbie and Molly showed up on the last day of the clinic and we have had a chance to get in a bit of practice since then. We had a lot of boat work to do to get the boat set up the way we wanted, but finally got it all done and had some good practice.
This morning we were asked to get up early and be on the 7am morning show on the local ABC TV station. We showed up to see two J/22’s out sailing already being videoed as the reporter introduced the event. We were interviewed for a couple minutes just as the sun was beginning to rise.
The good thing about waking up that early allowed us to get our workouts in and wrap up the last minute boat work. When we were finally done, we headed out for the practice race. Given that none of us had fleet-raced in a while, having only match raced, we were joking about what we had to do with “so many other boats” on the start line. We figured it out, and had two good starts. The conditions were light with the wind slowly building through out the race.
The wind has been increasing since then ahead of a big front that is scheduled to blow through. Tomorrow’s conditions are forecasted to be very windy; three races planned. We are very much looking forward for the event to start. It is always a fun event both on and off the water.
I would like to thank Carmeuse for their continued support of my campaign for the 2012 Olympics in London. I would also like to thank Gill and North Sails for their support of our team for this event.
Rolex International Womens Keelboat Championship