Sailor of the Week: August 20-26
Jennifer Grant (Destin, Fla.) and her crew aboard the J/22, Eve n Keeled, is one of the many teams competing in US SAILING’s 2009 Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship (Rolex IWKC) on October 7-10 at the Rochester (N.Y.) Yacht Club. This regatta, steeped in tradition and sponsored by Rolex Watch U.S.A., provides women keelboat and offshore sailors an opportunity to compete with the top national and international sailors.
The team from Northwest Florida – Grant with crew Deborah Deats (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.), Faye Black (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.), Kerrie Serpa (Crestview, Fla.) and Jan Hine (Destin, Fla.) – will travel over 1,200 miles from the emerald Gulf Coast to the tranquil waters of Lake Ontario.
This will be Eve n Keeled’s second shot at the Rolex IWKC. Jennifer became interested in this regatta just eight weeks prior to the 2007 Rolex IWKC in Houston, Texas. Even though she didn’t have access to a J/22 at the Fort Walton (Fla.) Yacht Club, and they had never sailed one, Jennifer embraced the challenge and believed it to be a worthwhile opportunity to sail at such a first class international regatta. They were fortunate to locate a J/22 owned by a very generous man, Dr. Jim Hunter, in Mobile, Ala. Dr. Hunter lent them his J/22 to practice on and take to Houston, along with a new set of sails and their choice of two trailers. They traveled over 100 miles both ways from Destin to Mobile for practice, which was challenging.
Fortunately, they got lucky again. A non-resident member, Galen Freeman, happened to be passing through the Destin area and took Jennifer’s team out for a ‘beer can race.’ The following weekend he returned with another J/22 he had been putting back together for two years. The boat was theirs to practice on at home for the next four weeks leading up to the Rolex IWKC.
“Whether we perform well or get our butts kicked, our friends have believed in us, and given their time and expertise. Because of this, my team and I have grown as competitors and as women,” said Jennifer.
Following the event, Jennifer and her crew decided before they had left Houston, that they would sail at the 2009 Rolex IWKC. “We pushed ourselves and felt very privileged to be part of such a grand event,” added Jennifer. “To meet accomplished sailors from all over the world and make friends was something we really enjoyed.”
Jennifer is eager to meet and compete against this year’s roster of accomplished sailors including, Anna Tunnicliffe, Cory Sertl, and Carol Cronin. “We expect the competition to be fierce and look forward to learning by just being on the water with them,” Jennifer explained.