Celebrating Ten Years of High Performance Dinghy Racing

Published on October 8th, 2013

By Carina McCabe, WindCheck
This year marks the 10th annual running of the Heineken High Performance Dinghy Open (HPDO) at American Yacht Club in Rye, NY. As such, it’s a good opportunity to look back on previous years.

The Heineken HPDO cannot be mentioned without the name John Wyles. An avid sailor and enthusiastic AYC member, John just wanted to be able to race his 5O5. So, rather than complain about a dearth of racing opportunities, he decided to create one. It was 2004.

AYC Commodore Drake Sparkman thought a multi-class one-design regatta was a great idea and threw his full support behind it. John made the connections, reached out to various classes and acquired the premier sponsorship of Heineken. And it worked. There were four classes represented that first year – 5O5 (8), International Canoe (8), 470 (4) and Flying Dutchman (3) for a total of 23 participating boats. Not a big regatta, but by no means a failure. It was enough to merit repeating, and repeating again…nine times in all so far.

Over the years, a number of classes have come and gone – we didn’t see the 470s again until 2012, the A-Cats came in large numbers for a while then moved on as our regatta fell too late in their sailing calendar, the WETA trimarans arrived to much fanfare and keep coming back, and the Fireballs travel literally from all four corners of the globe annually. American Yacht Club’s RS K6 fleet has been a faithful supporter since 2006, with ten or more boats participating annually since 2007.

And we cannot overlook the extremely strong support of the Viper 640 class who have, after their first appearance with three boats in 2006, been showing up with over 25 boats for the past three years. Already this year, despite their Nationals being held on the same weekend in Houston, we have 23 Vipers registered. That’s what I call awesome participant support.

The regatta saw an explosion of support in 2008, with attendance more than doubling over the previous year, from 38 boats to an overwhelming 85 and the addition of the Fireball, Foiling Moth, A-Cat, Tempest, and Contender classes. Word was out, the Regatta had legs, and American Yacht Club and its members were fully committed to its ongoing success. Word continued to spread, and a record 125 boats attended in 2011. US Sailing noticed, too, naming the Heineken HPDO their 2011 One-Design Regatta of the Year.

With participants from as far away as Canada, Holland, England, Switzerland, Ireland and Australia, the Heineken HPDO is truly a world-class regatta, hosted by a world-class club. The regatta will be held on Columbus Day weekend -October 12-13 – at American Yacht Club. You’ll find the NOR and Registration at yachtscoring.com.

Source: WindCheck, October edition

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