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On the Bay: November 13, 2009

The northeast has been experiencing almost summer-like weather these past few days, but at a cost, at least from the perspective of our frostbiters. While most of the area gleefully enjoyed a Sunday of warm sunshine, racers were not quite as happy as the general population. Sunday, Nov. 8 was the first scheduled day for frostbiting, and the IC Dinghies, Ideal 18 and Laser sailors were down at the waterfront getting their boats prepared for the day. Sailors, especially in western Long Island Sound, bring a new meaning to the saying, “Hope springs eternal.” For here were all these skippers and crews, preparing for a day of racing as flags on the flagpole hung limply. Not a bit of breeze could be seen anywhere on Manhasset Bay. But one never knows when some wind might show up. Unfortunately last Sunday, it never did, and RC cancelled racing for the day, with the caveat, “RC is sticking around so if you want to check back later…” So for the rest of the afternoon, boats were washed and tuned, others opted for some libation, while others just sat in the warmth of the sun enjoying conversations with other sailors. A nice afternoon, but the wind never materialized. With a cold front coming in for the weekend, the frostbiters may have a chance to get out in their little boats and begin their season. Let’s hope so!

In 1985, Rolex supported US SAILING in establishing a women’s international keelboat championship. In 12 outings, the biennial Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship has hosted over 2,500 of the world’s best female sailors. It has helped alter the course of women’s sailing and is universally recognized as the pinnacle of competitive keelboat racing for women. The Rochester Yacht Club (RYC) hosted the 2009 running of the regatta on Oct. 7-10.

Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), who competed right here in the 2009 Knickerbocker Cup, and her team of Molly O’Bryan Vandemoer (Redwood City, Calif.), Liz Bower (Rochester, NY) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, NY) have won US SAILING’s 2009 Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship. At the gala Rolex Awards ceremony, Tunnicliffe and her team were awarded US SAILING’s perpetual Bengt Julin Trophy and a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Stainless Steel & Gold Date presented by Jaimie Carlsen of Rolex Watch U.S.A.

“We’re very excited,” said Tunnicliffe, Olympic Gold Medalist and a member of the U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, moments after returning the dock. “We wanted to win this event for a while and finally we’ve done it. We’re super psyched!” Both Vandemoer and Capozzi also are members of U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics.

Until this regatta, Tunnicliffe had held the record as the youngest competitor, having set the mark as a 14-year-old skipper in 1997. At that time, she confided that one day she would win the regatta. “I always thought it would be cool to do really well one day,” she said. “This is my fifth time sailing the regatta, my fourth time skippering it. We were getting to the point that we need to get up there sometime soon. I’m happy we sailed really well together and did so well. I have a fabulous crew. Debbie, Molly and Liz sailed together a few times before, and the chemistry has worked perfectly. It makes my life so easy on the race course and they make me look really good.”

This is Capozzi’s fourth straight Rolex Women’s title, having won with U.S. Olympian Sally Barkow in the three previous editions (2003, 2005, and 2007). She now ties for the record for most crew wins with Nancy Hood, Kris McClintock, and Karen Neri (all Newport, RI). All three were part of the winning teams of skipper Betsy Alison (Newport, RI), who has won five titles (1985, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1997).

The 2011 Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship will be held at the Rochester Yacht Club.

U.S. SAILING continues to accept nominations for the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards, which recognize one female sailor and one male sailor for their individual outstanding on-the-water achievements within the calendar year. Last year’s winners were Anna Tunnicliffe and Terry Hutchinson. Nominations close on Nov. 30: http://tinyurl.com/ycfpukp.

You’re invited! Join IRC, PHRF and One Design racing sailors from around the world heading for Key West 2010, presented by Nautica (Jan 18-22). Escape winter’s chill for tropical paradise to wage battle on warm azure waters by day and enjoy island nightlife. Awesome conditions, unrivaled international competition, professional race management and shoreside fun await! Invited classes: Farr 40 and 30, Melges 24 and 32, Swan 42, 20’ Sportboats, Corsairs, J/105, J/80 (and more). Entries rolling in as temperatures dropping… Don’t wait ’till it’s too late, enter today and let the competition know you won’t miss the party! Details & online entry: http://www.premiere-racing.com.

The 2009 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Annual Conference will be held in Busan, Korea on Nov. 5-15, where the male and female winners of the 2009 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards will be announced Nov. 10. This year four female and six male nominees have been short listed for the award, based on their achievements during the qualifying period of Sept. 1, 2008 to Aug. 31, 2009. The 2009 nominees are: Female: Sam Davies (GBR), Hilary Lister (GBR), Blanca Manchón (ESP), and Anna Tunnicliffe (USA). Male: Pascal Bidégorry (FRA), Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA), Paul Goodison (GBR), Torben Grael (BRA), Nathan Outteridge (AUS).

The ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award is the highest award a sailor can receive in recognition of his/her outstanding achievements. The awards are presented annually based on a worldwide selection process that incorporates an open invitation to nominations, followed by a vote among the 130 member nations of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). In 2008 the Awards were presented to four-time Olympic medal winners Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Alessandra Sensini (ITA). For more information: http://www.sailing.org/worldsailor.