New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta preview
With less than four weeks until the start of New York Yacht Club’s 156th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex and the June 7 entry deadline, the growing list of competitors already includes class champions, historic classics and the hottest IRC boats to hit the water. Racing in the longest-running regatta in America – NYYC first ran the event in 1845, one year after its inception – begins with the Around-the-Island Race on Friday, June 11, followed by two-days of buoy racing on June 12-13. Class divisions are planned for PHRF, Classic, 6 Metre, 12 Metre and IRC-rated entries plus one-design classes including J/105 and NYYC Swan 42.
The largest boat entered, to date, is the 72ft Rán, owned by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström. Well known for its victories in the 2009 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Fastnet Race and Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rán arrived in Newport with a goal of competing in the NYYC 156th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex before setting off in the Newport Bermuda Race a week later. “Rán is built to do well in both around-the-cans and offshore so I think we will be competitive,” said Zennström. “Bella Mente and Titan will be very tough competition. We have raced against them, and they are great teams. If there are lots of reaching legs, then Titan will have an edge with its twin rudders and in light winds Bella Mente is hard to beat.”
Similar to Rán, Bella Mente, the 69ft Reichel/Pugh-designed IRC-optimised yacht owned by Hap Fauth quickly made a name for itself in 2009 winning its class in the Rolex Middle Sea Race and finishing second to Rán at the Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup (read more about her here). Tom Hill’s Reichel-Pugh 75 Titan 15 is expected to compete after a strong Caribbean season that saw the Puerto Rico-based yacht take second in Antigua Sailing Week to Rán and a win at the BVI Spring Regatta.
Another well-known entry is il mostro the Volvo Ocean 70 campaigned by Puma Ocean Racing and skippered by Ken Read. No stranger to offshore competition – Puma Ocean Racing and il mostro placed second in the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race – the team adds the Annual Regatta as one of its ‘must do’ events despite being the only Volvo Ocean 70 entered. “Even with no other Volvo Open 70s in this event, we have decided to keep the boat in its Volvo race configuration,” said Read. “Trying to play with this boat’s IRC rating against all the boats that are optimized for IRC is a bit futile, especially since canting keels are hit far too hard by IRC handicappers. With that in mind we will go race boat for boat with a bunch of great teams and begin working on our boat handling, remaining focused on the ultimate prize which is to compete at the highest level in the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race. Being based in Newport and having a fantastic regatta like this in your own backyard is an opportunity that we simply can't miss.”
In the one design classes, the NYYC Swan 42 – NYYC’s signature one-design – is expected to field 15 entries with reigning National Champion Phil Lotz aboard Arethusa. “The Annual Regatta is one of the key regattas for us and kicks off our summer season,” said Lotz who represented NYYC and won its inaugural New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup last year among a field of 19 international yacht club teams. “We expect very close racing. Generally we always have a lot of winners of races. That is how tight the racing is in this class. It’s really consistency that pays off, and we will have our eye on every boat.”
Arethusa will also compete later this summer in NYYC’s Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex (July 17-24), in which the first half of one design racing will double as the NYYC Swan 42 Nationals. “We will then change our sail inventory a bit and compete in the Rolex US-IRC National Championship during the second part of Race Week. We feel the boat is competitive, and in that fleet the boat that is sailed well will do well,” said Lotz. Arethusa won its class in the 2008 IRC East Coast Championship and finished second overall.
Racing in the Annual Regatta takes place on Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean with daily awards and social activities at Harbour Court, NYYC’s on-the-water clubhouse. A Skippers Meeting is planned on Friday evening at 1800 and will be followed by the Around-the-Island Race prizegiving. On Saturday and Sunday, daily awards will be presented along with the Best Boat of the Day on each racing circle.