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Olympic Contenders Race in Rye

By Jan Hodnett, American Yacht Club, Rye, NY

The last regatta of the season was an exciting one. From October 12-14, four female skippers, who are vying to compete in the next Olympics, sailed in the American Yacht Club Yngling Regatta. Winner qualifies for the 2003 World's Open in Germany .

Hannah Swett, of New York City, was a solid first after three days of racing. By winning this regatta, she also won the right to compete in the 2003 World's Open in Germany. Competing in the World's Open is mandatory for all females who are seeking a berth on the US Olympic team. Competitors who have mounted Olympic campaigns include Swett, Ellie Field, Little Compton, RI, who finished second; Betsy Alison, Newport, RI, who finished third; and Jody Swanson, Buffalo, NY, who finished 5th.

In addition to these skippers, another American team and three teams from Toronto, Canada, entered the AYC Yngling Regatta. The Canadian team skippered by Anne Marie Shewfelt was a multinational team with members from London, UK and Dublin, Ireland.

Wind conditions produced great sailing, tight finishes

Competitors endured just about every race condition over 3 days. Saturday was rainy, choppy and miserable and these tough competitors were one of the few groups braving the elements that day. Monday saw a beautiful, cool, windy day, with the breeze coming out of the north/northwest at 20-25 knots. The winner of the regatta, Swett, was a consistent first-place finisher. Out of 10 races, she finished first in 6 of them and second in 2 races. Her crewmate Melissa Purdy of San Francisco skippered two of the 10 races.

AYC Olympian unable to compete

Courtney Becker-Dey, a medalist in the last Olympics was unable to compete in this qualifying race. She also is seeking a berth on the Olympic team, but since she is due to deliver her baby any day now, she was unable to compete. Her co-skipper in the Olympic Women's Keelboat Championship was the second place finisher, Ellie Field. A former instructor at AYC, Pease Herndon-Glazer, sails with Jody Swanson, but did not compete in this race.

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