Lining up for the Annual Regatta

New Bella Mente to lead the charge at the NYYC's 158th running of their ancient regatta

Wednesday April 25th 2012, Author: Jan Harley, Location: United States

The premature arrival of spring fever and the confluence of major sailing events scheduled for the summer of 2012 has created an upbeat mood among sailing enthusiasts in New England’s sailing Mecca of Newport. While the America’s Cup World Series will be hosted in Newport starting on 26 June, before this will be the New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta presented by Rolex over 8-10 June.

Among the IRC yachts that will compete in the Annual Regatta is Invictus, the TP52 formerly known as Samba Pa Ti, which is raced by the U.S. Naval Academy’s Varsity Offshore Sailing Team.

“We will have seven 4th Class (freshmen), five 3rd Class (sophomores) and two 2nd Class (juniors) including myself and two coaches,” said Ralph Duffett, currently a 2nd Class Midshipman at the Academy, detailing the makeup of the 15 to 16 people who will be in the crew, all with varying experience. “In my opinion the greatest part of our program is our ability to take freshmen and sophomores with relatively less experience and over a fall season of learning basic skills and knowledge of tactics and strategy, followed by a spring season of more hands-on and offshore training, and field winning crews on several different types of boats in all of the regattas we participate in.”

“The thing I am looking forward to the most is the Around the Island Race,” continued Duffett, explaining that he has sailed on Invictus in the past two NYYC Annual Regattas (2010 and 2011). “After a spring of training it is our first point-to-point race and is a good way to test all the skills we have been honing all season. In my eyes it is an iconic start of the Annual Regatta. Even though it is scored separately, its navigational difficulty as well as the nature of the race gets everyone geared up for the rest of the regatta.”

Invictus, like other IRC yachts, will use the Annual Regatta as a tune-up prior to the start of the Newport Bermuda Race, before also competing in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta. The three events together constitute the Onion Patch Series, with the first race completed on Saturday and Sunday during NYYC’s Annual Regatta counting toward this series.

Invictus will be up against the IRC 52 Interlodge of Austin and Gwen Fragomen, but among the IRC boats all eyes will be on Hap Fauth's latest Bella Mente. For this new New England Boatworks-built, Judel Vrolijk designed 72ft Mini Maxi, the Annual Regatta will be her second outing after the Storm TriSail's Block Island Race on 25 May. 

This year will be the 158th running of the Annual Regatta and the historic nature of the event also this year extends to the entry list that includes Argument, the Herreshoff S-boat owned by Stephan Sloan. The oldest one-design class still actively racing, the 27ft wooden S-boats first splashed in 1919. Roughly 100 were built and the original boats still racing, with their high ratio of sail area to wetted surface, display the vintage style that delights photographers and casual observers alike, not to mention those who race them and appreciate the boat’s high performance. Fast in light wind due to the large sail area, a full lead keel keeps the craft stable in strong breeze. Requiring an experienced crew to coordinate handling spinnaker lines, halyards, running backstays and sheets simultaneously, the design – like the Annual Regatta – has stood the test of time.

Sloan conservatively expects that as many as nine of the classic S-boats will participate in NYYC’s Annual Regatta. Having owned Argument for five years with his sister, Sloan has previously raced her in NYYC’s Annual Regatta and is looking forward to this 158th edition. “It’s the start of the season for us,” said Sloan. “The Around the Island Race is a real draw for us as it is great fun and a good start to the season. It’s also a home-club regatta for me and being at Harbour Court is a chance for great get-togethers.”

The S-boats are among the yachts eligible to compete in the 19-nautical mile Around the Island Race that is the first segment of the “regatta within a regatta” format that constitutes NYYC’s Annual Regatta presented by Rolex. Taking place on Friday, June 8, the Around the Island Race is scored separately, with a Rolex timepiece presented to the overall winning yacht in the IRC division during evening festivities at NYYC’s Harbour Court.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 9-10, the S-boats will race in the traditional two-day series as part of the Green fleet along with Classic, 12 Metre, 6 Metre and smaller one-design classes. IRC and larger one-design classes will be accommodated in the Blue and White fleets, and all three fleets will have one or two races each day, separately sailed and scored. PHRF and non-spinnaker IRC classes will race as the Red fleet and will sail one “Navigator” race each day using government and racing marks on the southern part of Narragansett Bay. Staged as an ideal fit for cruising yachts entered in the Newport Bermuda Race, the relaxed format of the Navigator race offers competitors in that biennial race a low-key tune up before undertaking that classic distance race.

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