Story & photos by Stuart Streuli
After 45 races in conditions that ranged from heavy air to survival sailing, four of the ten teams competing in the New York Yacht Club’s third annual Women’s 2v2 Team Race were tied for first place with 7 points apiece. And perhaps that’s appropriate.
Given the dire forecast for Newport, RI heading into the weekend of June 3 & 4, the fact that any races were held at all is a victory for the 86 sailors and two dozen race officials and umpires involved in the regatta. The racing was competitive, and without any major breakdowns, collisions or injuries, a testament to the skill of the sailors and the faith of the race officials that the competitors would be able to handle conditions that approached gale force and kept multiple other fleets off the water.
“We thought that if we were going to get in any racing [on Saturday], we should just go out right away,” said Claire Harrington, Rear Commodore of the New York Yacht Club and the Principal Race Officer for the regatta. “My thought was we’ll just see how it’s going, how they’re handling the boats. Remarkably, there were virtually no calls to the bosun, and the teams did a remarkable job of handling the boats. I was very impressed with the skills of the sailors. It was very tight, competitive racing. It was only when I started to see steady state wind in the 30s and gusts over 40 that I said, ‘Let’s call it off before something serious happens.’”
Sunday was windy, though reasonable, enabling Harrington and her all-female race committee to finish a complete round-robin. With that completed, race officials found themselves with another challenging task: how to break a four-way tie for first. After a deep dive into the Racing Rules of Sailing Team Racing Appendix, Bristol Yacht Club, which finished second last year, came out on top, with Team Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association in second, Larchmont Yacht Club in third and Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Newport Beach, CA) in fourth.
While the racing was physically demanding all weekend, Abigayle Konys, team captain for the Bristol Yacht Club squad, said the key to surviving Saturday was all between the ears.
“You have to go into it with a good attitude, or it’s just not going to be your day,” said Konys. “Number one is making sure we’re communicating and keeping up that energy. That’s the only way you can approach a day like that and if you can do that and keep your boats moving in the right direction that’s going to be the best thing you can do.”
Bristol was one of the smallest yacht clubs competing in the regatta. But the venerable Rhode Island club, based just a short daysail from Newport on Narragansett Bay, has been steadily building its team racing program over the past few years.
“We love [this event],” said Konys. “Anytime you get a group of women together, having this much fun and great competition, that’s going to be a highlight for the summer.” Winning never hurts either. ■
1. Bristol Yacht Club, 7 wins – 2 losses
2. Team Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association, 7-2
3. Larchmont Yacht Club, 7-2
4. Newport Harbor Yacht Club, 7-2
5. Chicago Yacht Club, 5-4
6. New York Yacht Club, 4-5
7. Corinthian Yacht Club, 4-5
8, Eastern Yacht Club, 3-6
9. Annapolis Yacht Club, 1-8
10. American Yacht Club, 0-9