Sally Barkow sailed so well in the Rolex Women's International Keelboat Championships in Annapolis all week, she had her worst finish yesterday and still ran away with the trophy. She's so far ahead of the fleet, she won't have to sail the 11th and final race today. Nobody can catch her.
"I haven't seen anyone dominate a regatta like that in a long time," said Sharon Ferris, New Zealand's women's keelboat representative at the 2004 Olympics. "They sailed smart, safe and fast. It's hard to beat that combination."
Barkow, 25, had 14 points after 10 races, scoring six firsts, a second and two thirds as well as 10th in yesterday's last race, which score she can discard. The nearest competitor, Cory Sertl of Rochester, N.Y., is second at 38. It means Barkow could fold sails and take today off while the rest of the 42-boat fleet fights for second place and lower.
It was the second straight win for Barkow in the prestigious, biennial event. She took first in 2003, fresh out of Old Dominion where she was an all-American, but with a more modest score of 44 to nose out Paula Lewin of Bermuda.
This time, sailing with the same crew as in 2003 -- Debbie Capozzi of Long Island on the bow, Annie Lush of Great Britain trimming headsails and Carrie Howe of Michigan calling tactics -- Barkow was all but untouchable.
"I told her she should have to drag a bucket behind the boat to make it more even," said ex-America's Cup sailor Tucker Thompson, who filmed the event for the Web site www.t2p.tv.
Barkow was sheepish about the final race as mistakes put her deep in the fleet. After a poor start, Lush said, the crew accidentally let the mainsail drop from the head of the mast twice, lost a winch handle overboard, then was penalized for pumping the spinnaker. Barkow did a 720-degree spin to absolve the infraction and wound up 10th.
"The last race kind of put it in perspective," said the skipper, who grew up in Nashotah, Wis., sailing dinghies against three older brothers. "Otherwise, the crew work was pretty much flawless all week."
Rivals say Barkow's crew benefited from almost continuous sailing on the international circuit. She's shooting for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in Yngling women's keelboat class. Victory here, after taking the Yngling World Championships in Austria this summer, makes Barkow a force to be reckoned with for the next Games.
-- Angus Phillips