Cory Sertl and crew have won the 2001 Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship with a race to spare

Cory Sertl of Rochester, NY, and her crew Pease Glaser (Long Beach, Calif), Dina Kowalyshn and Susan Taylor (both Annapolis, Md) have won the 2001 Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship with a race to spare, following another solid performance in the vagaries of Chesapeake Bay.

The team scored a 7-3 in the shifting light-to-medium breezes gusting off the Annapolis shore yesterday (27 September, 2001). Closest rival in the 61-strong fleet of J/22s was Carol Cronin of Jamestown, RI, who had a reasonable day with a 9-1 but could not shake off the close attention of Sertl in both races.

Sertl, a Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year who won this event back in 1985 crewing for Betsy Alison, commented afterward: “It’s great to have won this regatta as a skipper. We had good pace all week which allowed us to sail a conservative style.” This year, Sertl fulfilled a longstanding commitment to race the Rolex regatta with her great friend Pease Glaser.

Glaser, the current Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and a 470 Olympic Silver Medallist from 2000, was the tactical brains behind the team’s success this week. It was a challenge that she relished and dreaded at the same time. “It was easy to lose your head at this regatta, seeing other boats sail 30 degrees higher than you in totally different wind. But the key was to work with what you had and be patient. It was a lot like the Sydney Games where it paid to have the same approach. The Games were very stressful and I think once you have dealt with those high-stress situations, you are better equipped to cope with them the next time.”

Glaser also credited smooth interface with Sertl to having similar sailing styles. “Cory will look upwind and see things the same way as I do, and so she is happy to let me get on with the decisions while she drives the boat fast.”

Early series leader Nancy Haberland of Annapolis, Md, appeared to have bounced back with a 4-2 score that would have seen her pass Cronin into second place overall. But her fourth in the first race was spoiled by infringing the Z-flag rule for crossing the start line early. This means she had to add 20 per cent of the fleet size to her score, taking her points for that race up from 4 to a very expensive 17. She, along with a number of other boats, attempted to protest the race committee’s procedure in flying the Z flag, but this was later disallowed by the International Jury. That decision leaves Haberland in fourth place overall, sandwiched by three points on either side, with the Bermudan skipper Paula Lewin in third overall, and Jody Swanson of Buffalo, NY in fifth.

Deneen Demourkas of Santa Barbara, California, a good Farr 40 driver but new to this type of small-boat, big-fleet racing, scored her second race victory of the week. Aided in the cockpit by five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Betsy Alison of Newport, RI, Demourkas read the shifting breeze of the first race beautifully to win by a decisive margin. Her 1-7 score has hauled her back up into the top ten, just ahead of Middletown, RI’s Pat Connerney who is struggling to rediscover the form that won her this regatta last time. Another victim of the day’s Z flag, Connerney now lies in ninth place overall.

With the regatta winner already decided, today’s final race will be all about determining who will take second place in what has been an incredibly tough regatta to date. Sertl was undecided about whether or not to compete. “I tune up before races with Carol Cronin, and I tacked on her a whole load today and felt pretty bad about that. I’m not sure if I want to get in the way of my friends while they race it out on the last day,” she said.