Slated for July 19-27, 2008, the popular regatta offers a new twist to its split format, giving classics their own spotlight over the weekend of July 19-20 during the club's 100th birthday celebration of America's legendary yacht designer Olin J. Stephens. For Race Week at Newport's second session - from Thursday, July 24 through Sunday, July 27 - up to 200 modern racing machines will converge on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound for IRC, PHRF and one-design competitions.
The event is part of the 2008 US-IRC Gulf Stream Series, and at least three one-design classes - the NYYC Swan 42s, J/109s and Melges 32s - will use the event to determine their 2008 North American or National champions. In addition, the event will serve as the J/105 East Coast Championship and the Beneteau First 36.7 Northeast Championship.
"The two sessions offer serious competition on the water," said NYYC Sailing Committee Chairman Steven Wolff, explaining that in addition to windward-leeward courses, a distance race around Conanicut Island will be included for many classes, adding to the unique challenges and epic beauty of a racing arena that from 1930 to 1983 hosted the America's Cup and continues to make Newport one of the country's most popular sailing destinations.
"The plan also includes continuing Race Week's tradition of good times ashore," added Wolff, "with massive tent parties planned on the lawn at Harbour Court, which holds a commanding view of the sunset over Newport Harbor. In the past, we've had the handicap sailors competing in the first session and one-design sailors competing in the second, but now those two groups will sail on the same days and won't miss each other back at the club for social events."
The classics event will be an extravaganza unto its own, bringing together some of the sport's most awe-inspiring yachts, including classic yachts, America's Cup 12-Metres, and historic Sparkman & Stephens (S&S) designs that comprise the unmatched legacy of Olin Stephens, who is Member #1 on the NYYC's seniority list, having joined the club in 1930. "Though he is humble about anyone celebrating his life, Olin plans to participate in the regatta and festivities," said Wolff. "The guests at this celebration are sure to be the many luminaries in our sport whose lives have been touched by him."
The New York Yacht Club's Race Week at Newport falls in the month after the Newport Bermuda Race and before the Lightning North Americans and the Leukemia Cup, all of which are supported by NYYC. Rolex timepieces will be awarded for best overall performances in Classics, IRC, PHRF and One-Design divisions.