Halftime at NYYC Invitational Cup

Published on September 13th, 2017

Newport, RI (September 13, 2017) – After four straight race finishes in the top three, Southern Yacht Club and Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron showed the first signs of mortality today at the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, the ultimate one-design, big-boat Corinthian competition.

Both clubs, holding the top two slots after day one, stumbled in Race 5 to finish squarely in the middle of the fleet. Now, through five races, the overall results had the two clubs—both first-time competitors in the regatta—tied on points, and well clear of third place.

But in a no-throwout series, points can accumulate in a hurry and the difference between top-three and bottom-three in this ultra-competitive fleet can come down to one cross, one decision, one lapse in concentration.

Race 6 bore this out as Guido Belgiorno-Nettis and the Royal Sydney team struggled to their worst result of the regatta, a 12th place. For Southern, however, Race 5 proved a temporary bobble as Marcus Eagan and his team finished second in the final race of Day 2.

Southern Yacht Club’s consistency allows them to retain the leader’s yellow spinnaker for another day, now standing 10 points clear of Royal Sydney in second and 16 points clear of third, a substantial margin at the midway point of this 12-race series.

While teams battle at the top, success at the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup regatta was also enjoyed by a pair of clubs that had their best days ever, three-time participant Yacht Club Argentino and five-time competitor Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Both teams finished the day with 13 points from three races, just one back from Southern Yacht Club, which was the low-scoring team of the day with 12.

“We had better speed that the last two times we’d been here, so we could hold our lanes and we could sail conservatively, we didn’t have to talk any risk,” said helmsman Mark Thornburrow. “Two years ago we learned a lot at the end of the regatta, made some notes, came here and started off with good speed.”

Boat speed and risk management are the pillars of a good Invitational Cup result. Every boat is well sailed and big mistakes can translate into a lot of points that must often be ground back boat by boat. After middle-of-the-pack finishes in the four previous editions, the RHKYC finds itself in third place with half of the 2017 regatta in the books. Lessons learned, apparently.

For Yacht Club Argentino, the foundation for today’s performance, which included a third, an eighth and a first, was actually laid on Day 1, when the team struggled to a 10-14-7.

“The good thing is that yesterday, we may have had a bad day, but the spirit was still very high, and keep us pushing,” said tactician Cristian Frers, who is the cousin of Germán “Mani” Frers Jr., who designed the Swan 42. “We are here to have fun. We are enjoying it a lot, the hospitality is great. We have to ease down a bit, we don’t want to get too excited, but we are having a really great time.”

Frers said the team is an interesting mix of cagey veterans and enthusiastic younger members of the YCA, and they first started sailing together a month ago.

“We did a couple of trainings in Buenos Aires and it was a really good feeling that we have in that group,” he said. “It’s very good. The young people are great, and we are very good friends. From the very beginning, from the very first time we met, they are great guys.”

While Southern Yacht Club has punched out to a solid lead and Royal Sydney Yacht Club is in a solid second, the middle of the pack is still quite compact. The host New York Yacht Club currently sits 11th, but is just 13 points out of fifth. The next six races could bring quite a bit of change to the overall results table. No position is secure, from first to 14th.

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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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