Record-breaking Turnout for 160th Edition of the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta

Published on June 12th, 2014

NEWPORT, R.I. (June 12, 2014) – A Who’s Who of sailors has hit the shores of Newport, R.I., in preparation for this weekend’s 160th edition of the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex.  One sixty is a lot of years—in fact, it’s the most that any regatta in this country can claim—and the event’s reputation is rock-solid as a “must-do,” especially during even-numbered years when it directly precedes the Newport Bermuda Race.  It’s not surprising, then, that a record-breaking 189 boats, 25 percent more than last year, are planning to participate in a full slate of buoy racing on Saturday and Sunday (July 14-15), and many will take on the challenges of a separately scored Around the (Conanicut) Island Race on Friday (July 13), as well.

Having not sailed here since 1983, when he snatched the America’s Cup away from the New York Yacht Club after its 136-year hold on it, is Australian John Bertrand, who has arrived to skipper in the 46-boat Etchells Class, which is preparing for its World Championship (also hosted by the New York Yacht Club) that starts June 24th. “Newport was a battleground for us back then, and our 1983 win was my Mount Everest,” said Bertrand, adding that after skippering Australia II to victory he didn’t go near a sailboat again until the early 1990s when he picked up Etchells racing. “I absolutely love Etchells and do the Nationals in Australia and occasionally the Worlds. Back in Australia, the Etchells Class is the best one-design racing that we have, so if you want to compete at the highest level, that is the boat you choose.”

Racing with Bertrand is Grant Simmer who was the tactical navigator for him in 1983 and Andrew Palfrey who represented Australia in the Star Class at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

“This week, I have visited some of the places here that I spent time at 31 years ago, including the Armory downtown where the press conferences were once held for The Cup and the street that I lived on. Being here has been a walk down memory lane.”

Jerry Kirby (Newport, R.I.), another America’s Cup veteran (he has done six) and Volvo Ocean Race star (three times) is famous in his own way for his exploits as an in-demand bow man.  The 58-year-old was 14 when he got his first gig at the pointy end of a boat, and for the last 10 years plus he has served in that role aboard George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) 90-foot Rambler, where he’ll be, once again, superbly carrying out his often-acrobatic duties during both the Around the Island Race and the Annual Regatta.

“In terms of sailing, I’ve definitely got a lot of miles,” said Kirby, “and this is a great event, because anyone that doesn’t sail full time gets to come and do an event where you do have top talent coming from all over the world. It’s a great time of year to be in Newport; the New York Yacht Club runs a great event, and it covers every base: you’ve got every size boat and type of sailor.”

Four circles will accommodate buoy racing for IRC, Classics and One-Design classes (12 Metre, S Class, Etchells, Melges 32 and Swan 42), while Navigator Races around government marks are scored under either PHRF or ORR.

Other Highlights:

• Volvo skipper Charlie Enright (Bristol, R.I.) and Team Alvimedica have opted to enter only the Around the Island Race, their only competitive sailing planned before heading back to Europe for the start of the Volvo Ocean Race in September. Other interesting Around the Island Race participants include two Marstrom 32 catamarans, making the race for overall fastest time quite interesting. A Rolex timepiece will be presented to the overall winning yacht in IRC division, and the Rolex Cup goes to the best two-yacht team.

• Recognition for farthest distance traveled most likely will go to Norman MacPherson’s Brazilian team on the Whitbread/Volvo 60 Cuba Libre, sailing in IRC.

John Litt’s (Greenwich, Conn.) team aboard his Andrews 68 Terrapin, in ORR Navigator’s class, sails for a good cause here, raising money for breast cancer research. They’ve already raised $54,000. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/TeamTerrapin.

• A new class this year is the Spirit of Tradition class. Four boats are signed up, including Erbil Arkins’s (Lymington, UK) 90-foot Tempus Fugit and Donald Tofias’s  (Newport, R.I.) W-76 Wild Horses.

Jed Pearsall and Bill Doyle’s (Newport, R.I.) 43-foot Amorita, one of 18 NY-30s built in 1905 and designed by Herreshoff as a one-design fleet for the New York Yacht Club, will headline the non-spinnaker classics division. At 109, she is the oldest boat in the regatta and will also be a part of an encore presentation of the NYYC One-Design Heritage display, which will take place on Saturday evening.

• The ongoing Mini Maxi battle between Hap Fauth’s (Minneapolis, Minn./Naples, Fla.) Bella Mente and Alex Schaerer’s (Newport, R.I.) Caol Ila R will continue. The last time they met, Bella Mente was leading Les Voiles de St. Barth before breaking a rig. This will be Bella Mente’s first regatta back in action.

• With 51 boats entered, this is one of the largest IRC events ever in North America.

• The 2015 Invitational Cup may be 15 months away, but Swan 42 skippers and crews are already looking in that direction. John Hele’s Royal Canadian Yacht Club team on Daring will be thinking about a three-peat. Other teams will be aiming toward winning the NYYC’s berth in the regatta.

• The Navigator Class has grown from 24 boats last year to 37 this year. A few years ago these classes weren’t a part of the Annual Regatta, and now no one can dispute their popularity.

• A Rolex timepiece will be awarded to the yacht with the best overall performance in the weekend series. The Great Corinthian Trophy will be presented to the yacht club team with the best score.

Results, photos, and nightly videos produced by T2p.tv will be available online at nyyc.org after each day of racing. For more information, contact NYYC Racing Director Brad Dellenbaugh at dellenbaugh@nyyc.org or (401) 845-9633. “Like” us on the NYYC Regattas Facebook page.

Source: Barby MacGowan, Media Pro Int’l, 401-225-0249 (on-site mobile), barby.macgowan@mediapronewport.com

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