Who today would think it daring to declare that female athletes should be mainstreamed into big-boat sailing? That was the general attitude in 1985 until US SAILING and Rolex collaborated to create the Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship (IWKC). Twenty-five years later “The Rolex Women’s” – as competitors fondly call it – stands as a testament to the huge strides made in women’s sailing. This biennial event regularly attracts both the Who’s Who and the up-and-coming of women’s sailing. The 14th running is scheduled for August 29 – September 1, 2011 at the Rochester Yacht Club (Rochester, N.Y.), and utilizes the International J/22 class keelboat, suitable for four-person teams. A Preliminary Notice of Race will be posted in June, 2010 at http://championships.ussailing.org/Adult/RIWKC.htm.
The current champion and US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics member, Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), recently received US SAILING’s highest honor as the 2009 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year based in part on her accomplishment of winning the 2009 Rolex IWKC. “Since US SAILING and Rolex created the Rolex IWKC in 1985, many accomplished women sailors have been part of this regatta’s 25-year history,” said Taran Teague (Annapolis, Md.), chair of US SAILING’s International Women’s Keelboat steering committee. “In fact, since its founding, this regatta has hosted more than 2500 women representing 23 countries.”
Taking the helm of the local organizing committee is Chris Dorsey (Rochester) from Rochester Yacht Club. “The members of the Rochester Yacht Club were both honored and proud when we were selected to host the regatta in 2009,” said Dorsey, who served as co-chair in 2009. “We were equally honored when US SAILING awarded it to us for 2011. With the dates of the regatta likely to correspond with good, comfortable weather and with ISAF International Race Officer Hank Stuart serving as our Principal Race Officer, we’re sure the sailing experience will surpass all expectations. We believe the fact that the regatta will take place prior to many students and teachers returning to school will give even more sailors a chance to come to Lake Ontario to compete.”
This year the RYC will host the Hospice Regattas National Championship and the Melges 24 North Americans. “Between now and the time of the Rolex IWKC, we’ll be honing our hosting skills even further,” said Dorsey. “We’re looking forward to providing an unforgettable experience for everyone who participates.”
Part of US SAILING’s Championships calendar, the regatta provides women sailors of all ability levels with high-quality racing and an opportunity to compete against top national and international sailors. Opportunities for skills development are available through nationwide Road to Rolex clinics, as well as mentoring to young women through the Next Step to Rolex program and the Junior Road to Rolex clinic.
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