(Newport, RI)- Light, shifty winds had an unusual stronghold on this year’s 160th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex, but most of the 189 teams competing knew how to take it all in stride. For many it was a test of patience. The tricky, occasionally windless, conditions for the Around the Island Race insisted on sticking around for the first day of the regatta, in fact, causing a postponement ashore before the fleet took off into a light SSW breeze for Saturday. Sunday dawned with a crystal-clear blue sky and lots of promise, a solid 10-15 kt cool breeze was flowing from the NW but that, too, ultimately died and switched into a light SSW breeze. To say that it was challenging for the NYYC PRO’s on all three courses (two outside on Rhode Island Sound and one in Narragansett Bay) would be an understatement. Nevertheless, most fleets managed to squeeze in one race per day to make it a series.
The regatta traditionally starts out with the Around Conanicut Island Race, a 21nm circumnavigation that often makes good use of the steady southwest seabreeze that develops by midday. The course is usually clockwise, starting off Rose Island in the East Passage of the Bay, rounding Beavertail Lighthouse Bell “NR” to starboard, the Green can “5” and Red Bell “2” at the north end of the island, then a straight leg home to the finish just off Fort Adams. Perhaps for the first time in a half-century, the race course had to be shortened at the Jamestown Bridge center span, less than halfway through the race after starting south of the Newport Bridge! The fleet was caught sailing in a slow-moving front that was “spritzing” a nice cool, rainy mist with winds spinning around the compass from 0 to 5 kts max. Amongst the J/Teams that performed admirably in the simply maddening conditions were Chris Jones and Louise Makin from Hamble, England sailing the J/111 WILD CHILD, winning PHRF 1 class and followed by classmate Fred Van Liew and David Brodsky on their J/111 ODYSSEY in fourth. Other notable performances were in PHRF 2 with EC Helme’s J/92s SPIRIT taking third in class and Brian Kiley’s J/29 MEDDLER X taking fifth. In the IRC classes, Mike Bruno’s J/122 WINGS grabbed a fourth overall in IRC 4 while Bill Sweetser’s J/109 RUSH took second in IRC 5 class followed by Joerg Esdorn & Duncan Hennes’s J/44 KINCSEM in fourth.
For the Annual Regatta that took place Saturday and Sunday, both the White Course and Green Course fleets were quite happy, in retrospect, to have at least counted two races as crazy as anyone may describe them. On the Green Course up Narragansett Bay were the PHRF Navigators classes. In PHRF 1, the J/111’s faired quite well with the Jones/ Makin team on WILD CHILD taking the class win with a 1-3 for 4 pts over the Van Liew/ Brodsky team on ODYSSEY with a 3-4 for 7 pts. In fourth was Doug Curtiss’s WICKED 2.0 with a 2-6 for 8 pts, losing a tie-breaker with another boat. Significantly, all three J/111s were 1-2-3 on Saturday’s race.
In the PHRF 2 Class, it was a J/Team clean sweep. In fact, it was a bit of a “back to the future” experience to see the classic J/24 winning class. By virtue of their most excellent performance on Saturday, the J/24 NIGHTHAWK sailed by the trio of Barker, McVicker & Ryan took the class win. Second was EC Helme’s J/92s SPIRIT and third was Brian Kiley’s J/29 MEDDLER X.
Outside in Rhode Island Sound, the White Course IRC classes saw for the third year in a row the J/122 WINGS sailed by Mike Bruno from American YC in Long Island Sound take IRC 5 Class with an impossibly low score of 1-1 for just 2 pts. Third was another classmate, the J/122 AUGUST WEST sailed by Jamey Shachoy from Buzzards Bay, MA. Rounding out the top five were Len Sitar’s J/44 VAMP in fourth and Paul Milo’s J/122 ORION in fifth.
Another repeat winner in IRC 6 was Bill Sweetser’s J/109 RUSH from Annapolis YC in Annapolis, MD. RUSH scored a 2-2 for 4 pts to walk off with class honors against such notably famous boats like NYYC Vice Commodore Rives Potts’s CARINA.
For an amazing 3D perspective on what happened on the race courses, be sure to check out the RaceQs.com replays for all three days! It’s a very useful training tool and great way to learn more from yours (and other’s) mistakes on the race course- tactically and strategically. Sailing photo credits- Rolex/ Daniel Forster For more Around the Island Race sailing information For more NYYC Annual Regatta sailing information
RaceQs.com 3D Tracker Replay