New hardware in Newport
Meyers added that his Judel-Vrolijk 66 Numbers should match up nicely against Bob and Farley Towse's Reichel/Pugh 66 Blue Yankee, which won its class last year at the Annual Regatta. " Blue Yankee won all sorts of things last season (including the 2007 Rolex US-IRC National Championship)," explained Meyers, "but we've never met her on the water."
Moreover, while Numbers finished second at the US-IRC East Coast Championship last Fall and won its IRC class at Acura Key West Race Week earlier this year, Roger Sturgeon's Farr-designed STP65 Rosebud/Team DYT, launched last June, also kept busy on a different sailing circuit, one that culminated in victory Down Under at the Rolex Sydney Hobart race. At the Annual Regatta, Rosebud/Team DYT will square off for the first time not only against Numbers but also in a long-awaited match-up with another STP65, Jim Swartz's Reichel/Pugh-designed Moneypenny, which was launched this April and shipped to Newport from Australia. As well, it will test against Hap Fauth's Reichel/Pugh 69 Belle Mente, having only recently emerged from its shed at New England Boatworks.
"These boats are hot rods," said Johnny MacGowan, a regular crew aboard Numbers. "Downwind, they'll be going 25 knots, all of them."
Though it's clear that both the Annual Regatta and Newport to Bermuda Race will be key determinants in the 60-footer design wars, Meyers was quick to point out that the races are two different animals. "Everyone takes their own routing for Bermuda, so once you've started, you're off on your own course," he said. "At the Annual Regatta, however, all the boats are in close quarters, racing windward-leeward around the buoys. It will be the most interesting competition since the advent of the TP52 class."
The brand new 99ft super maxi, Speedboat, designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian, also is on its way to Newport by ship. It will spend 10 days tweaking for speed with Mike Sanderson at the helm. Helping Sanderson will be members of Great Britain's Team Origin America's Cup team. " Speedboat is a boat built for breaking records, and we're primarily preparing for the Bermuda Race," said Ben Bardwell, Speedboat's bow man who arrived in Newport ahead of the boat, "but we do expect to compete in the Annual Regatta." George David's 90ft Rambler, itself a breaker of world records, is also expected at the Annual Regatta but without its regular skipper, Ken Read, at the helm. Read will instead steer Puma Ocean Racing's new Volvo Open 70 Il Mostro as part of his preparation for the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race.
In addition to IRC, classes for Classics, 12 Metres and PHRF and One-Designs with eight or more entrants will host a variety of boats in all shapes and sizes.
"Last year nearly 100 yachts raced; the year before - a Bermuda Race and Onion Patch Series year like this one - 132 yachts competed," said NYYC Commodore Charles H. Townsend. "We look for at least 100 yachts to enter this year and know the skippers and crews will enjoy the racing, the social events and the facilities at Harbour Court."