Harken Derm

New York Yacht Club aims to win back their Invitational Cup

Published on June 9th, 2015

Seventeen yacht clubs, from 11 countries, will gather on September 12 to 19 to compete in the premiere Corinthian big boat competition – the fourth biennial New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex. For the host club, whose sole victory was the inaugural series in 2009, there is a quartet of Swan 42 teams that are seeking the right to return the club to prominence.

The host club uses the 161st New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex on June 12-14 as the first part of a two-stage qualifying series, with the second half of the qualifying to take place during the Swan 42 National Championship in July.

“The Invitational Cup is big-boat racing at the highest Corinthian level, and for a Club we are all proud to be members of,” says Ted Madara, the skipper and co-owner, with Gibb Kane, of Mutiny. “The Swan 42 class was created by the NYYC. When you combine these boats with the Invitational Cup, you have a great opportunity to be part of the racing history of the NYYC.”

The other three teams are regarding the qualifying series with equal levels of respect.

“The Invitational Cup is a unique event with a much greater impact in the sport of sailing,” says Chris Culver, a Club member who will be racing his Swan 42 Blazer in the qualifying series. “It’s Corinthian competition, and an international presence on a level playing field.”

Also competing for the Club’s berth will be Impetuous, skippered by Paul Zabetakis, event chairman for the 2013 Invitational Cup. Having passed along that responsibility, he is now squarely focused on qualifying to represent the Club this September.

“The key to doing well in the qualifying series is to be the crew that makes the least mistakes,” says Zabetakis. “The competition each time has been intense. The teams that spend the most time practicing and competing have always done the best.”

With that in mind, Zabetakis took his boat to Quantum Key West over the winter and sailed both weekends of the AYC Spring Series.

The final team vying for the Club’s berth will be sailing Apparition, the same yacht that Ken Colburn sailed as the NYYC representative in the 2011 and 2013 Invitational Cups, finishing second and ninth, respectively. But this time, it will be Colin Gordon at the helm. Gordon, one of the pillars of the Club’s active team racing program, has done his share of miles on a Swan 42, but never as the skipper.

“Our crew is made up of very accomplished dinghy and keelboat racers, a few with Swan 42 experience, who are racing together for the first time,” says Gordon. “Every person on our crew is pretty overqualified for his or her job. I’m the glaring exception.”

Gordon’s self deprecation aside, his team’s first regatta—the second weekend of the American Yacht Club Spring Series—produced plenty of reason for optimism. Apparition was the low-point boat for the weekend. The addition of NYYC Vice Commodore Phil Lotz, 2009 Invitational Cup champion and a two-time Swan 42 National Champion, for the Annual Regatta and the Nationals will only help the team’s chances of qualifying.

Close competition has been a hallmark of the Swan 42 class since its first one-design regatta in 2007. With nine seasoned teams lining up for the 161st Annual Regatta, and more expected for the National Championship in July, this isn’t likely to change.

Three dedicated teams will fall short of the Club’s berth in the Invitational Cup, but the winner will go into the 2015 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup that much stronger for having survived a challenging qualifying series. While great for members and fans of the New York Yacht Club, this maybe is not such pleasant news for the 16 other teams competing in the 2015 Invitational Cup.

2015 Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup161st Annual Regatta presented by Rolex

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