Saturday, June 9, 2018

New York YC 164th Annual Regatta Preview

New York Yacht Club- Newport, RI- Harbour Court (Newport, RI)- The 164th New York YC Annual Regatta will feature a race around Conanicut Island on Friday, June 8, and then two days of buoy racing for the IRC classes, and point-to-point racing for the ORR & PHRF navigator classes. The weather forecast looks promising, with a classic setup for Friday’s Round Island, sunny, SW winds at 8-15 kts.  Then, a bit of rain, but with light southerly winds on Saturday, followed by sun but lightish easterlies swinging right all day on Sunday.

The race track for Friday’s circumnavigation of Conanicut Island is just 19nm long. But, it delivers a full menu of tactical challenges, from the enigmatic tidal flows in the West and East Passages of Lower Narragansett Bay; the tricky ocean swells off Beavertail and the numerous geographically influenced windshifts, which are unique to each wind direction. It requires constant focus from the trimming and tactical teams and a good dose of local knowledge.

This year, the regatta will award an overall trophy for the best-corrected time under the three handicap rules that will have more than one division in the race; including IRC, ORR, and PHRF.

J/35 Leading Edge from Houston, TX“We’re very excited to offer overall trophies for Friday’s Around-the-Island Race for the three biggest rating rules in use during the Annual Regatta,” said David Bush-Brown, the event chairperson. “With each boat sailing the same course, this is a rare opportunity for local family-based programs to go head-to-head with some of the top professional sailing teams in the United States.”

While most of the yachts competing hail from within a day’s sail, there are a more than few road warriors willing to pull the rig, put their beloved yacht on a trailer, hitch it to a large truck and head out on the highway, all in the name of superlative sailing.

“The New York Yacht Club puts on a great regatta,” says Tom Sutton of Houston, Texas, who will sail his J/109 LEADING EDGE in the Annual Regatta. “This is a sailing mecca as far as we are concerned. My crew loves coming up here.”

Sutton and his team first competed in the Annual Regatta in 2015, towing their trusty J/35 from Galveston Bay to Newport. They haven’t missed a year since. This year, Sutton switched boats, bringing his J/109 north while leaving the J/35 at home for local events. The team’s summer campaign is broken into two parts, four regattas during the first half of the summer, including the Annual Regatta and July’s Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex, and then a pair of events in October on Western Long Island Sound, including the J/109 2018 North American Championship.

“It’s really exciting for us,” says Sutton. “My wife and I, and my son, will stay here for two months. And then we’ll head back to Houston. Then we’ll come back [in October] for those two events, one at American Yacht Club and then the J/109 championship.”

Sutton's J/109 Leading Edge crewCompeting against a fleet overflowing with local sailors is a challenge for any out-of-towner. But Sutton and his team have had more than their share of success at the Annual Regatta. Two years ago, they claimed overall honors in IRC for the Around the Island Race, beating 44 other yachts. Last summer, the Leading Edge crew took second in IRC 3 in the weekend portion of the Regatta.

“We try to learn quickly,” he says with a chuckle. “We have a good navigator, really good crew. Most of these races have legs that are 1.5 or 1.25 miles long, so you do have to pay attention to the current.”

Sailing in the IRC Division will be four J/109s, including Carl Olsson’s MORNING GLORY, Bill Sweetser’s RUSH, Albrecht Goethe’s HAMBURG, and Tom Sutton’s LEADING EDGE.  Twin J/122s will be going for class honors, Paul Milo’s ORION and Jack Gregg’s TARAHUMARA.  A pair of J/44s will be in the hunt as long-time veterans of the regatta, NYYC Vice Commodore Bill Ketcham’s MAXINE and Chris Lewis’ KENAI.

In the ORR Navigator division will be Howie Hodgson’s J/160 TRUE and Bob Manchester’s J/120 VAMOOSE.  Sailing similar random-leg courses inside Narragansett Bay is the PHRF Navigator division.  Racing will be Steve Levy’s J/121 EAGLE, Doug Curtiss’ J/111 WICKED 2.0, Abhijeet Lele’s J/111 VARUNA, Brian Kiley’s J/109 GAMBIT, EC Helme’s J/92S SPIRIT, and Dan Stone’s J/80 HOT STREAK.   For more NYYC Annual Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.