Smooth sailing sealed the deal today for IRC, PHRF and One-Design winners in Part II of the ninth biennial New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex. (Part I, for Classics, was sailed over the weekend of July 12-13.) After Wednesday’s (July 16) opening day races were cancelled due to the threat of thunderstorms, Thursday’s and Friday’s racing was pushed from mid-morning to early afternoon to allow Newport’s
J/109 Fleet racing downwind - Photo By: Rolex / Daniel Forster
dependable southwesterly sea breeze to kick in, and although that breeze was light on both days, there was still plenty of action for the 73 teams competing. Rotating each day to one of three different circles, one on Narragansett Bay and two on Rhode Island Sound, sailors counted 4, 5, 6 or 9 races in their score lines going into today when a light easterly kicked in early to allow three races each in Swan 42, J/109, IRC 1, IRC 2, and IRC 3 classes and two each in J/44, PHRF and Marstrom 32 class.
Three Rolex timepieces were awarded: one to Jim Swartz’s (Park City, Utah) IRC 52 Vesper, the IRC overall winner; one to Glenn Darden/Philip Williamson’s (Fort Worth, Texas) Hoss, the new Swan 42 National Champion; and one to Jim Vos’s (New Canaan, Conn.) Skoot, winner of the J/109s and that class’s North American Championship.
“We are elated but we’re not going to gloat, because there are some very good boats that had a tough day today,” said Vos, giving a nod to his tactician Danny Cameron and adding that the class has been joined by lots of new “incredibly competitive” teams this year, including J/109 newcomer Jonathan Rechtschaffer’s Emoticon, which held the lead here for the first two days. “The J/109 fleet is stronger now than it has ever been, so if you’re behind at any point during a race it is very hard to come back. The outcome could have gone many ways this week.”
Glenn Darden and Philip Williamson have been sailing in the Swan 42 fleet since it was created seven years ago, never to win a nationals, but this week their team onboard Hoss got it right. “There was a lot of talent here, so it was fun to race,” said Darden who was at the helm this week. Hoss was in first place after the first day of racing, but slipped down to third on Friday. It wasn’t until the second-to-last race this afternoon that the team reclaimed the lead. “The Swan 42 National Championship is a very difficult regatta to win,” added Darden, who raced against 12 other top-notch competitors, including three former Swan 42 national champions: Phil Lotz (Arethusa), John Hele (Daring) and Ken Colburn (Apparition). “Our strategy was just to get off the line and sail a good race.”
A total of 27 IRC boats sailed (10 of those were dual-scored for HPR), and in addition to Vesper’s victory, Steve and Heidi Benjamin’s (Norwalk, Conn.) Spookie won IRC 2, while Ed Freitag and Molly Haley’s (Annapolis, Md.) DownTime prevailed in IRC 3.
Spookie had as many victories (5) in its scoreline as Vesper but one less race to count in the overall IRC victory calculations.
After the first day of light air, Freitag, who also won this class two years ago at Race Week, was tied on point score with Wings and Avalanche. He said his team liked 10 knots, nothing lighter, but would take anything that was thrown at them. DownTime went on to break ahead yesterday and secure victory today.
In PHRF class, which sailed both buoy races and navigator’s courses, David and Maryellen Tororello’s (Bridgeport, Conn.) J/111 Partnership turned in five victories over eight races to win, while William Ketcham’s (Greenwich, Conn.) Maxine, won J/44 class on a tie breaker with Jim Bishop’s (Jamestown, R.I.) perennial favorite Gold Digger, which was leading going into today.
For the Marstrom 32 fast-catamaran class, Michael Dominguez’s (Bristol, R.I.) Bronco posted seven victories in 11 races to win.
Organizers tried some new concepts never tried before at Race Week or, for that matter, at any other traditional regatta held here in the sailing capitol of America. Most popular was the stadium style racing that took place on Thursday and Friday and made viewable from the shorelines of Jamestown and Newport the windward-leeward laps of the keelboats, while the swift Marstrom 32 catamarans wove in and out and about as fast as they could on America’s Cup style courses.
For the largest boat in the regatta, George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) 90-foot Rambler (in IRC 1), the 1.2 mile legs made for an exhilarating, if not exhausting, ride.
“Those are tough courses for us,” he said, explaining that the speed of the boat combined with two (or three) laps and four (or six) corners to turn mean sail changes come quickly and pose great physical challenges, “but it was great race committee work, and we liked it a lot. It was nice to see land passing by and a lot of fun pushing a boat like this around with 50-foot boats on the line. As soon as we get on the line, we’re gone and pretty much pick where we want to go.”
Celebrating an end of an era, the Rambler team posed for a group photo after their finish today. David is retiring the boat, which has broken the Newport to Bermuda Race record, among others, and has sailed more than 20,000 miles with mostly the same crew members as competed today. He will debut a new Juan K 88-footer, being built in Rhode Island, in September. “It’s a little sad to put Rambler away after seven glorious years, but we’re happy looking back and happy looking forward. It’s as well known a boat as you have on the water, and I’m looking at 21 guys who have remained a remarkably solid, mature team.”
The New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex was held at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court clubhouse. Entrants came from as far away as Great Britain, Italy and Switzerland (1 each). The state with the most boats entered was Rhode Island (18), followed by Massachusetts (12), New York (14), Connecticut (7), Maryland, New Jersey and Texas (4 each), Virginia and Utah (2 each), and California and Missouri (1 each).
For results and photos, visit www.nyyc.org. Nightly videos produced by T2p.tv are available on the website and at http://bit.ly/1q8JEVD after each day of racing. For more information, contact NYYC Racing Director Brad Dellenbaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org or (401) 845-9633. “Like” us on the NYYC Regattas Facebook Page and use official event hashtag #NYYCRaceWeek when posting on social media platforms.