When a building southwesterly, starting at five knots and maxing out at 12, funneled into Narragansett Bay this afternoon, the waterfront view from Jamestown and Newport (south of Newport’s Pell Bridge) resembled that of a race track. Instead of colorful cars zipping around; however, it was high performance race boats sailing by to complete their third day of competition in Part II of New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex. The biennial event’s latter half (Part I, for Classics, was held last week) concludes tomorrow and is hosting 73 boats split into eight classes, which are rotating among three circles. Today the PHRF, J/44, Swan 42 and J/109 classes raced on two circles “outside” on Rhode Island Sound, while the IRC and Marstrom 32 classes raced “inside” on stadium-style courses set between the Jamestown shore, Rose Island and Fort Adams on the Newport shore.
Randy Miller's Marstrom 32 Gradient Vee,
Photo By: Rolex / Daniel Forster
“What the New York Yacht Club has done this year with the course format is quite brilliant, and it adds a whole new dynamic to racing,” said Gavin Brady, an America’s Cup veteran and the tactician aboard the IRC 52 Vesper, which is currently leading the IRC 1 class. “Having shorter courses closer to shore is so important because people watch, and it brings interest to the sport; it is an absolute must for the future of sailing. Having the Race Committee switch up the race format each day also makes it quite exciting. Normally during a regatta, you race on the same course every day, but for this event we don’t know what we will be faced with until the morning of racing, so we have to be prepared for anything.”
The Vesper team, with a slew of tough competitors on its heels, including the IRC 52s SLED, Near Miss, Hooligan and Interlodge, is looking forward to tomorrow’s finale. “These are the best IRC 52s in America right now,” said Brady, “and we are halfway through the season, so this is the last big event for all of us before we start making changes for 2015.”
In the Marstrom 32 fast-catamaran class, four tough races didn’t change anything at the top of the scoreboard where Michael Dominguez’s (Bristol, R.I.) Bronco still leads Malcolm Gefter’s (Newport/Boston, Mass) LIFTOFF by one point. The course set for the five-boat catamaran fleet was reminiscent of that the America’s Cup World Series utilized when it stopped here in 2012: visually exciting, with legs to windward, leeward and for scream reaching.
“Once you’re sailing these boats it’s so much fun… the speed and adrenalin rush, plus it’s a different style of racing,” said Dominguez. “Each race is 25 minutes; you’re exhausted at the end of day, because it’s such a physical boat and there are a lot of load on the lines. It doesn’t take too much wind to send these boats over.”
Malcolm Gefter, a seasoned keelboat racer who, like Dominguez and the others here, bought his Swedish designed and built Marstrom last year to help start a U.S. fleet, agreed. “They are much more demanding than a traditional keelboat in that they weigh 1000 pounds, whereas a Melges 32 (a high performance boat that Gefter also owns and sails) is in the neighborhood of 4000 pounds, and the sail area (of the cat) is 20 percent bigger. When you have a slight change in direction or speed of the wind, the effect on the boat is dramatic, and because there is no lead, there is nothing to keep the righting moment of the boat stable.” You have to balance the boat on a knife’s edge (one hull) by sheeting and steering all the time; you never can just cleat off and go.”
Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points