Newport Race Week returns

News from the New York Yacht Club's imminent regatta

Thursday July 15th 2004, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: United States
The New York Yacht Club's Race Week at Newport is back with a bang this year, scheduled to begin its fourth biennial edition this weekend with over 170 boats signed up and with Rolex returning in a presenting sponsorship role that it has held since the event's inauguration in 1998.

It is the event's unique split-racing format that makes it so popular and allows sailors to customise their racing experience. The first half of the week, from Saturday, 17 July to Tuesday, 20 July, is devoted to handicap racing under IMS and PHRF, with 12-Metre and Classic Yacht racing added for good measure. The second half, from Friday, 23 July to Sunday, 25 July, is reserved for one-design racing.

An offshore race, open to all divisions, takes place mid-week, on Wednesday, 21 July, and is scored separately. Sailors can choose to race either the front- or back-end sessions, or both, and pass or play this race.

"Race Week at Newport takes advantage of weekend days and offers competitors an abundance of choices: handicap, one-design and distance racing, in modern or classic yachts," said Steven Wolff, chairman of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) Sailing Committee. "The Race Week ambience is captured with socials under the tent at Harbour Court, which has breathtaking views of the Newport Bridge, Newport Harbor and the downtown area that is only minutes away. The experience is enjoyed by sailors from the local area, the region and all across the country."

Race Week's formula for success also includes flexibility to integrate new ideas, events and classes. In 2000, the event doubled as the Rolex IMS Worlds. This time round, the first half of Race Week is serving as the second event in the newly established NYYC Invitational Racing Series for Vintage and Classic Yachts. The move attracted the attention of yacht design firm Sparkman & Stephens (S&S), which decided to coordinate its elaborate 75th Anniversary Celebration with Race Week. The legendary S&S designed 12 Metres Columbia, Courageous, Intrepid and Freedom will join other 12 Metres in racing over the first four days and use the opening weekend as their 12-Metre Annual Regatta.

Also racing over the weekend will be another group of S&S designed yachts, including the classic beauty Bolero, a 73ft yawl owned by Ed Kane. Designed in 1949 by Olin Stephens as "the largest modern ocean racer of its time," Bolero represented a new era of post-World War II technology. It was originally owned by John Nicolas Brown, whose estate, Harbour Court, is now the NYYC's Newport clubhouse.

" Bolero won the Classic division at the NYYC 150th Annual Regatta in June," recalls Bolero's helmsman Chip Barber, "and won the Antigua Classic Regatta earlier this year and the Concord d'Elegance Trophy just last week for the 75th Anniversary Celebration. What will be fabulous is seeing classic yachts like the 72ft Ticonderoga, the 8 metre Angelita and the New York 30 Amorita on the same line as Bolero. The NYYC Cruising Rule works great for handicapping these boats, so we will get some keen racing out of it."

Notable names from the first half of Race Week include Hannah Swett, sailing with Chuck Townsend on his PHRF entrant T-Squared, Ken Read, serving as tactician for Dan Meyers aboard the IMS entrant Numbers, Tony Rey and Steve Benjamin aboard Bob Towse's PHRF entrant Blue Yankee and Bermuda's 2004 Olympic Star representative Peter Bromby, sailing on Blair Brown's Sforzando, an IMS boat that won its class in the NYYC 150th Annual Regatta.

For the second half of Race Week, North American championships for the Farr 395, Henderson 30 and J/35 classes will run alongside. The Farr 40 class will determine its East Coast Champion, while the J/105 class will determine its Southern New England Champion. Other one-design classes competing are the J/109, J/120 and Swan 45.

Top names from this session include Tom Whidden sailing with John Thomson on his Farr 40 Solution; Terry Hutchinson sailing with Jim Richardson on his Farr 40 Barking Mad; Geoff Ewenson on the Swan 45 Plenty; and Moose McClintock on Craig Speck's Swan 45 Vim.

Racing will take place on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay. Up to three racing circles for the handicap and one-design portions of the week are planned, with a total of at least seven races scheduled per circle.

A Rolex timepiece will be awarded to the best overall performance in PHRF division. A timepiece also will be awarded for best overall performance during the one-design segment of the regatta.

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