Dueling Hemispheres on top at NYYC Invitational Cup

Published on September 12th, 2017

Newport, RI (September 12, 2017) – Their preparations for this event couldn’t have been more different. But as is often the case in sailing, there was more than one path to the top of the leader board on Day 1 of the 2017 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup.

After three races in a fresh southwesterly breeze, Southern Yacht Club (New Orleans, USA) and Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (Sydney, AUS) stand first and second in the regatta, respectively, topping a field that features 14 yacht club teams from eight countries that have converged for the ultimate one-design, big-boat Corinthian competition.

After qualifying by winning last September’s Resolute Cup, Southern Yacht Club has spared no expense nor effort to prepare its team for the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup. The Club syndicate purchased a Swan 42 and competed in a number of regattas this past summer.

The results of this hard work were immediately obvious today as Southern Yacht Club, with Marcus Eagan at the helm and 2004 Olympic silver medalists John Lovell calling tactics, rolled a 2-2-1 to hold the lead.

“We have a good team,” said Lovell, a four-time Olympian in the Tornado class. “We’ve been practicing. Andrew [Eagan]’s trimming the jib really well. We’re really excited and hoping to stay in that top group. I’m sure we’re going to have one of those days where we get in the back a couple times. We had a couple crosses where we barely made it, and if we hadn’t we would have been pack in the pack. So everything just seemed to go right today.”

On the other hand, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, the helmsman for the Royal Sydney team, hadn’t laid a hand on the wheel of the Swan 42 for two years when he showed up for the first day of practice on Saturday (Sept 9). And his team hasn’t spent a lot of time sailing together. But that didn’t stop them from winning the first race and then adding a pair of thirds for a comfortable second place in the overall standings.

“It’s so nice to have a group of guys to come together,” said Belgiorno-Nettis. “They were all sailors for a long time, but we had hadn’t actually sailed together as a team. They just dug deep, and we figured out the way pretty quickly by the looks of things.”

But the wiry Australian—of Italian descent—was quick point out that prior success is no indication of future performance. And that there are four days left in this event.

“I’m sure we’re going to go backwards in other races because it’s natural,” he added. “You can’t do great work every day in every regatta. I’ve been to too many. I think for us it was a good moral lift to be able to be successful today, we’re happy to end out in the front end. The guys are enjoying it. The New York Yacht Club puts on one of the best regattas in the world, if not the best.”

Eastern Yacht Club finished strong with a second in the the third race and currently sits third, with 13 points. Rounding out the top five are Royal Cork Yacht Club—a five-time Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup competitor—and the defending champions from Royal Thames Yacht Club.

The biggest cheer in the tent today, however, went to a team that currently sits sixth. After 45 races over four regattas, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club team finally won its first Invitational Cup race in the day’s second contest. Few teams have matched the passion of the RHKYC, which always shows up determined to have a good time and has succeeded each time, no matter the final results.

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Amateur sailors representing 14 yacht clubs from eight countries and five continents are competing September 12 to 16 at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, in Newport, R.I.

The Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is a biennial competition between yacht clubs, with strict eligibility rules ensuring that each team is comprised almost exclusively of amateur sailors who are members of the club they represent. The playing field is level – boats (Swan 42s) and sails are provided and the rig tune is standardized across the fleet.

The competition, which was first run in 2009, has drawn entries from 43 clubs from 21 nations on all six inhabited continents. The New York Yacht Club won the inaugural event in 2009, with the Royal Canadian Yacht Club winning in 2011 and 2013 and England’s Royal Thames Yacht Club winning in 2015. The berths allocated for United States clubs are decided at the U.S. Qualifying Series regatta, which is held on even years in smaller boats.

The Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is sponsored by Rolex, Porsche, Nautor’s Swan, AIG and Helly Hansen and will be broadcast live via the web on Facebook.

The following yacht clubs will compete for the 2017 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup: Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, Mass.), Itchenor (GBR) Sailing Club, Japan Sailing Federation, New Bedford Yacht Club (South Dartmouth, Mass.), New York Yacht Club, Royal Cork (IRL) Yacht Club, Royal Danish Yacht Club, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Royal Swedish Yacht Club, Royal Sydney (AUS) Yacht Squadron, Royal Thames (GBR) Yacht Club, Royal (GBR) Yacht Squadron, Shelter Island (N.Y.) Yacht Club, Southern (New Orleans) Yacht Club, Yacht Club Argentino.

Source: Stuart Streuli, NYYC

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