Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship

2007 Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship
© Rolex / Dan Nerney
When US Sailing’s Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship (IWKC) returns to Rochester Yacht Club for its 14th edition, August 29-September 1, 2011, it will be the sixth time in the event’s history that racing has been conducted in J/22s.

Easing the way for women sailors new to the J/22, US Sailing organizes a series of Road to Rolex clinics to help develop teams and encourage their participation in US Sailing’s Rolex IWKC as evidenced by the first clinic of 2011 which took place in conjunction with the Layline J/22 Midwinter Championship at Davis Island Yacht Club in late February. Two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.), an accomplished match racer, 2008 Olympian and member of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, led the two-day women-only clinic with a focus on boat-handling and aggressive starts.

Translating the lessons from the clinic into performance on-the-water, the Cleveland-based team led by Susan McIntyre (Bay Village, Ohio) won the three-race series after posting finishes of 2-2-1. Besides escaping the cold winter weather, McIntyre, who plans to enter US SAILING’s Rolex IWKC, had signed up for the clinic to learn more about downwind sailing.

'The clinic was amazing. We didn't know we could learn so much in two days but Sally made it possible,' said McIntyre. 'There were numerous things that she taught us that we can take home and practice on our own such as the figure eight drill. The starting drills and tips were also very helpful. It was an excellent clinic.'

While the Road to Rolex clinics are designed to prepare competitors for the Rolex IWKC, participants do not have to be attending the Rolex IWKC to join in the clinic. Chalk-talks, on-the-water sessions and video debriefs will culminate with a short race series which determines the clinic winner who becomes the recipient of a $200 credit toward her entry fee to the 2011 Rolex IWKC. Over the coming months, nine additional clinics will be conducted around the county, including South Africa.

For a complete clinic schedule and information on how to register, please visit us at

Over the 25 years this biennial event has been held, US Sailing’s Rolex IWKC has carved a special place in a highly male-dominated sport. While providing the opportunity to meet and sail against women skippers at all levels, the championship has been the catalyst for friendships and memories that extend far beyond the event.

The championship itself – 11 races in four days – is preceded by two days of registration, measurement and a practice race. Along with daily social events, the Rolex IWKC culminates with the traditional Rolex gala and awards presentation when a Rolex timepiece will be awarded to the winning boat’s skipper. For sailors who are interested but are not yet part of a team, a crew finder is available.

The registration deadline for US Sailing’s Rolex IWKC is August 3, 2011. There is a $100 discount for teams who register by July 15.