2003 Women's Keelboat Championship
September 2003 will mark the 10th running of US SAILING’s biennial Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship (IWKC) when the event returns to Annapolis, Md., Sept. 27-Oct. 3. The Annapolis Yacht Club (AYC) also makes a return showing to host the event for a second time, tapping Annapolis native and veteran sailor Molly Hughes as Event Chair and partnering with the Eastport Yacht Club and the Severn Sailing Association for additional organizational talent.
Based on Hughes’ enthusiasm and the sustained momentum from the 2001 event, where a record 61 teams competed, the “mother of all women’s keelboat events” can’t come soon enough.
“I sailed as crew in the last event,” said Hughes. “I was blown away by the competition, the sportsmanship both on and off the water, and the caliber - from A to Z--of all administrative aspects of this regatta. It made me proud to be a woman sailor and proud to be a member of AYC."
While the competition’s roster typically reads like a who’s who of Rolex Yachtswomen of the Year, Olympic medallists, world champions and America’s Cup veterans, the Rolex IWKC also encourages women of all ages with varying levels of experience to compete.
The regatta does not require qualification for entry, only that each team become a member of its country’s national governing authority for sailing. As in the past, a series of worldwide Rolex-sponsored clinics will precede the event.
“The youngest skipper has been 14 and the oldest has been in her 60s,” said Denise MacGillivray of Portsmouth, R.I., who is chairman of US SAILING’s International Women’s Keelboat Championship Committee. “There are really no parameters and teams come from all over for many different reasons, which is what makes the event thrive.”
MacGillivray pointed out that several junior sailors from the event’s lauded Next Step program plan to compete in 2003. “The Next Step program is all about getting 12-16 year olds out of their yacht club dinghies and into keelboats,” said MacGillvray. “It was a tremendous inspiration to the 2001 participants, and one gal even received a J/22 for Christmas so she could skipper her own boat in a future Rolex Women’s event.” Three Next Step Juniors are talking about competing in 2003, including Martha Fisher from Ohio, daughter of elite sailor Greg Fisher.
The regatta’s five-day, 11-race format in J/22s is preceded by a day for registration/measurement and a day for practice. Nightly social events will culminate with the traditional Rolex gala and awards presentation. A Rolex
timepiece will be awarded to the winning boat.
The Notice of Race is available online. For more information, contact Molly Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Annapolis Yacht Club, 2 Compromise St., Annapolis, Md. 21404, 443-994-1176.