Teams from Michigan and California take the early lead

Published on September 3rd, 2014

Newport, RI (September 3, 2014) – A recalcitrant northerly breeze limited the 22 yacht club teams in the 2014 U.S. Qualifying Series for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex to just one race today on Narragansett Bay.

Even for the teams that did well in the lone race, it wasn’t an ideal start. With the four-day regatta divided into two days of qualifying and two days of championship fleet racing, tomorrow looms all important as each team eyes one of the 12 coveted spots in the Gold Fleet.

The team from Little Traverse Yacht Club, in Harbor Springs, Mich., won the Blue Fleet’s only race, which was sailed in J/70s. While skipper Scott Sellers is happy to be on top after Day 1, he knows this is no time to get overconfident.

“With getting less races into today [than expected] and having a good first one, our prospects are looking better for tomorrow,” says Sellers. “But we could get eight races in tomorrow, so we may only be 11 percent of the way through the [qualifying round].”

Today’s race was run early in the day, in a dying northwesterly breeze, with the course set across the main shipping channel in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. Playing the current, which was flooding into the bay, was as important as staying on top of the variable breeze.

The pre-race research conducted by the Little Traverse Yacht Club quartet (at right, skipper Scott Sellers on the left) favored the left side of the course, nearer to the shore of Conanicut Island. But in the starting sequence, the team was forced to adapt their strategy on the fly.

“We wanted to start near the pin,” says Sellers. “But we saw that it was getting very crowded there and at the last minute we made a decision to start up by the boat. A little clearing tack, and we were able to have a nice lane heading left for most of the beat.”

The top three at the first mark included teams from Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit and The San Francisco Yacht Club, both of which had also favored the left side of the course.

While those three would lead the fleet around the track and finish in that order, it was anything but easy, especially for the first race of a big event.

“In the first race, you’re always a little wound up, the nerves are there,” says Sellers. “With the shifty conditions, it was a little stressful.”

In the Red Fleet, which sailed the New York Yacht Club’s fleet of Sonars, the formula to success was similar for Newport Harbor Yacht Club from Southern California. The team was a little more conservative with its tactics, but still favored the left side early in the first beat and turned that into a lead it would hold until the finish. The teams from Chicago and Nantucket Yacht Clubs, rounded out the top three.

Racing for the U.S. Qualifying Series for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex will continue tomorrow at 10:30 a.m., on the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, and run through Saturday afternoon. After Thursday’s racing, the top six teams in each qualifying group will move to the Gold Fleet, which will sail in J/70s on Friday and Saturday. The remaining 10 clubs will battle for Silver Fleet honors in the Sonars.

The top three yacht clubs from the final Gold Fleet standings earn an invitation to the 2015 Invitational Cup presented by Rolex.

Day 1 Results, Qualifying Round (1 Race)
Blue Fleet: 1. Little Traverse; 2. Bayview; 3. San Francisco; 4. New Bedford; 5. Larchmont.
Red Fleet: 1. Newport Harbor; 2. Chicago; 3. Nantucket; 4. Shelter Island; 5. Seattle.

Event websiteTeam rosters

Report by event media. Photo by Stephen Cloutier /

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