a total of 61 J/22 teams battled it out on Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis for day one of the International Women's Keelboat Championship

Nancy Haberland and her crew have won a tough first day of the Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship that saw the 61 J/22 teams battle it out over three races on Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis.

It was a drama-packed day, with the 16-20 knots chopping up the Bay into a vicious washing machine. Defending champion Pat Connerney made life hard for herself by crossing the start line early in the first race and having to return to restart. “It wasn’t really the way I would have liked to begin this regatta, but when the fleet is this tough you have to be pushing the starts. We were about 60th round the first mark but we pulled up to 10th so I’m pretty happy.” She went on to score a third and a first, and currently lies in fourth place overall.

Cory Sertl’s team, with Olympic silver medallist Pease Glaser aboard as crew, hasn’t won a race yet but with a 2,6,2 scoreline she lies in second place just one point behind Haberland. “We got T-boned by a boat on port tack soon after the first start, so we were forced out to the right to find clear air. But it worked out OK for us and we pulled up to second in that race,” said Sertl.

The Bermudan team skippered by Paula Lewin are new to the J/22 and not all that familiar with fleet racing. Her expertise is the one-on-one intensity of match racing, but she appeared to make the transition to big fleet racing with remarkable ease. “We’re more than happy with where we are right now,” she said, after scoring a 4,2,9 today. Her second place in the second race was punctuated by an incident where she gybed too soon for her foredeck crew Leatrice Roman, who fell overboard. “I’m so used to Leatrice being able to respond to any situation that I throw at her, that I was surprised when she didn’t come through that one, but at least she didn’t let go and got back on board quickly.”

Many-time winner of this event is Betsy Alison, who this time is calling tactics for Farr 40 helm Deneen Demourkas. This team too suffered a woman overboard in the rough, tough conditions but Alison said they were coming pretty much where they expected to. “We’re new to each other so we’re still working things out.” They currently lie in 12th place and will have to step up a gear if they are to threaten the current front runners.