The history of New York Yacht Club is intertwined with progressive thinkers – starting with John Cox Stevens and James Gordon Bennett Jr. – who took a proactive approach to organising sailing contests that have become benchmarks for all other sailing events: from transatlantic crossings to America’s Cup match races, to team and fleet races. The proactive approach is the common thread that extends to The New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, scheduled for September 10-17, which has announced that extensive on-the-water umpiring will be used for the competition. Primarily used for match and team racing and the medal rounds of the Olympic Regatta, this will be the first time NYYC has emphasized umpiring to this degree for fleet racing, a first for a Corinthian event of this magnitude.
As with sports familiarly utilizing umpiring, a sailing umpire is tasked with applying the rules of the sport to the competition in real time, as situations occur, to resolve issues of play. For the Invitational Cup, 10 umpires will be on the water daily to deliver instant justice. With broad geographic representation, eight of the 10 are certified as international umpires or international judges, or both, and each is an active sailor who competes regularly.
“They get the game,” said Patricia O’Donnell (Newport, R.I), NYYC Chairman of the Jurors. “In most instances, when competitors come off the water they will know where they stand and not have to wait for the decision of a jury. If there’s a protest, the umpires can institute a penalty right there on the water. In the event a protest does need to be heard ashore, this event is being adjudicated by an international jury, which means the decisions of the jury cannot be appealed. We’re hoping it will ensure people sail cleanly, that we maintain the Corinthian aspect of the regatta, and the event is moving forward in line with the direction sailing is going on the international level.”
“The umpire team that NYYC has assembled knows where to be on the course because they are racing sailors – they understand the tactics and the strategy of what happens on the water. That sailing experience, combined with umpiring experience, allows them to anticipate where to be on the course. The goal is to be positioned in the right place at the right time to instantly and accurately react to a given situation.”
With more boats being made available, NYYC has been able to extend additional invitations to the second biennial Invitational Cup. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (CHN), Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER), Royal Norwegian Yacht Club (NOR) and the Royal Ocean Racing Club (GBR) have accepted invitations to send teams to compete, joining a prestigious list of clubs from across the globe.
NYYC’s Harbour Court will host 22 yacht club teams – representing 16 nations from six different continents – with racing on NYYC Swan 42s on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay from September 10-17, 2011. Taking cues from the halcyon days of the America’s Cup, competitors must be non-professional (Corinthian) sailors; members of the yacht clubs they represent; and also be nationals of their country. By country, the current roster of participating teams is: Yacht Club Argentino (ARG); Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (AUS); Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER); Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN); Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (CHN); Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP); Nyländska Jaktklubben (FIN); Itchenor Sailing Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR); Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER); Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL); Yacht Club Capri and Yacht Club Punta Ala (ITA); Japan Sailing Federation (JPN); Royal Norwegian Yacht Club (NOR); Clube Naval de Cascais (POR); Royal Cape Yacht Club (RSA); and Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, Mass.); Annapolis Yacht Club (Annapolis, Md.); Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Newport Beach, Calif.); and New York Yacht Club (Newport, R.I.) from the USA.
In addition to Rolex, which for 2011 and 2013 is the presenting sponsor, Sperry Top-Sider and Nautor’s Swan have also returned as sponsors to enhance the experience of competitors as well as those who will be following the races.