Rochester, N.Y., USA (September 1, 2011) – Only Hollywood could have scripted a more dramatic and exciting finale as racing for US SAILING’s Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship (Rolex IWKC) came to its nail-biting conclusion today on Lake Ontario.
When the 36 teams of all-women sailors – who hail from 16 U.S. states, Canada, Great Britain and The Netherlands – left Rochester Yacht Club this morning, there were eight races on the scoreboard and a very tight point spread among the top-three in the standings. First overall was skipper Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), the defending champion, followed by Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wisc.), equal on points at 24. Just five points back was local favorite Cory Sertl (Rochester), while Carol Cronin (Jamestown, R.I.) and JoAnn Fisher (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.), rounded out the top-five tied on 38 points.
The first race got started in roughly eight knots of breeze and Sertl was in the lead by the weather mark; going on to handily win the race. She was followed across the line by Kirsten Lane (San Francisco, Calif.), Meghan Jordan (East Amherst, N.Y.) and Sally Barkow. Anna Tunnicliffe was eighth. Barkow’s fourth put her back on top of the standings with 28 points, while Sertl was second with 30. Tunnicliffe was third with 32 points.
Racing was postponed after storms in the area sucked away the breeze, and two general recalls took place before the Race Committee was able to start race 10 in roughly eight knots of breeze. Kirsten Lane (San Francisco, Calif.) won the race, followed across the line by Katie Coleman Nicoll (Etobicoke, CAN) and Carol Cronin (Jamestown, R.I.). Katja Sertl (Rochester) was fourth, JoAnn Fisher (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) fifth and Cory Sertl sixth. Barkow was eighth, and Tunnicliffe, who had a bad start and went to the wrong side of the course, picked up an 18th place finish that became her drop score. The recalculated overall standings saw Sertl take over the lead ahead of Barkow, although they were tied with 36 points. Tunnicliffe remained third overall with 42 points.
With only 30 minutes left before the 3:00 p.m. deadline after which no race could be started, the 11th and final race of the day began in 10-11 knots of breeze from the east. Sertl led for much of the race, but Barkow edged past her to cross the line first followed by Sertl’s daughter, 17-year-old Katja Sertl, and Anna Tunnicliffe, before Cory Sertl heard the horn for her own third-place finish. Barkow’s subsequent disqualification for an incident at the start not only added 37 points to her scoreline but also thwarted her from winning the championship. She finished third with 54 points, behind Anna Tunnicliffe with 44 points, and Cory Sertl with 39.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Sertl of her third win of this championship title. “To do this with all four of us from Rochester Yacht Club, and especially since our focus this summer has been on taking our kids to events and not so much on our own personal sailing. To be able to relax and pull together our experiences – sailing together, sailing here and sailing the J/22 – is just really satisfying.”
Sertl had given her boat to her daughter to sail, and had chartered another boat to race herself which her husband, Mark, set up like her boat so that she could be very comfortable in it. “It’s so great to see Katja and the girls do so well,” said Sertl. “I know my boat’s fast, but she really made it go real fast.”
Sertl and her team – Amy Seymour Moran (Pittsford), Annemarie Cook (Rochester) and Jane Mastrandrea (Webster) – competed together at both the 2007 and 2009 Rolex Women’s International Keelboat Championship. A two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, Sertl has competed in the Rolex IWKC 11 out of the 14 times it has been held in the 26 years since its inception, winning twice previously: as crew for Betsy Alison at the first running of this event in 1985 at Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport, R.I.; and as skipper in 2001 when the event was held at Annapolis Yacht Club in Maryland.