Loughborough “Killed it” at NYYC Race Week
Published on July 10th, 2016
Newport, RI (July 10, 2016) – The applause spoke volumes. In deciding to award the overall prize – a Rolex Submariner – for Part I of the 2016 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex to seasoned classic yacht skipper Joe Loughborough, the race committee had made the correct choice.
Subjective awards, where a committee is forced to pick the most deserving winner from a diverse group of classes, are always a challenge. The first half of Race Week delivered three worthy choices: Loughborough’s perfect scoreline in the Classics Spinnaker Division, the final-race comeback that netted Courageous the overall victory in the 12-Metre class, and Stephen Cucchiaro’s steady sailing in the Gunboat class.
The committee chose Loughborough, a marine industry veteran who personally restored his 1944 Luders 24 Belle and sails her regularly, through good weather and bad. The weather for the first part of the Race Week at Newport was somewhere in between. The sun was a very infrequent visitor, but the rain held off and the wind, while never strong, was enough for each class to get in a number of races.
”Little bit of luck and skill,” said Loughborough when asked how he had won his class. “Well, actually, we kind of killed it a little bit this weekend. We got some old and good competitors. We don’t always get the better of them, but we got the better of them this weekend. So it was a great, great time.”
Loughborough has worked restoring plenty of boats. But Belle holds a special place in his heart.
“Every year I get excited about putting her back in the water, having done some little tweak, revamped something,” he said. “And little by little, I think we have built up our boat-speed edge.”
Among the other boats racing in the Classic fleet is Halsey Herreshoff’s NY40 Rugosa, which was designed by his grandfather Captain Nat Herreshoff. Rugosa’s weekend wasn’t much to write home about when it came to the results, but just sailing a boat that his grandfather built is victory enough for the younger Herreshoff.
On the opposite end of the sailing spectrum from Belle, Rugosa and their colleagues in the Classics divisions were the six modern multihulls, five of them made by Gunboat. Built for cruising at speed, it’s no surprise that the owners have gravitated toward a racing schedule, and six multihulls from 53 to 62 feet competed at Race Week. The pre-race favorite was actually the smallest of the six, a 53-footer from Sammamish, Wash., that has the advantage of being by far the lightest of the group. But in the light air, Fujin, as she is called, wasn’t able to really stretch her legs.
After struggling a little bit to get up to speed in the first race, Stephen Cucchiaro’s Flow (USA 61002), won the second and third races to claim a one-point win in the class over Fujin, which finished second in all three races.
“It was tricky, the key was to focus more on speed rather than pointing, and that’s something we had to learn over time,” said Cucchiaro, a nationally ranked sailor in his youth, and a gold medalist in the 1979 Pan American Games. “I never raced a catamaran until last year when I bought the boat. I’m going up a steep learning curve, but I have a great team that has given me a lot of good advice.”
They regatta didn’t start well for Flow. The first race was started in very light and spotty conditions and Cucchiaro and his team found themselves on the back foot.
“The first race was like two different races,” he said. “We had some particular problems getting going. Once we got out to the ocean, it was a whole new race and the breeze settled down. We were able to play some wind shifts and get back into the race. Everything changed at that point.”
Cucchiaro and his team applied the lessons learned in that first race to the rest of the regatta.
“We felt it was really important to get a good start and get the first windshift correctly, and then we just focused on keeping the boat going and not making any mistakes.”
While Fujin was first across the line in the second and third races, Cucchiaro and his team were able to stay close enough to win both once the handicaps were applied.
On the first day of the regatta, Gary Jobson and the team on Courageous could do no wrong. While the conditions were fairly similar for Day 2, the results were quite different. Courageous (below, second from the right) was fifth in today’s first race, and entered the final race with a two-point advantage over Dennis Williams’ Victory ’83.
“The last race, at one point we’re fifth and we needed to finish right behind Victory [which was winning the race],” said Jobson. “So I shifted tactics from splitting from the fleet to just working one boat at a time. The Grand Prix boats [New Zealand and Laura] got a little invested in each other, which worked to our benefit. It’s like Olympic class sailing, just focus on the boat in front of you, and that for us was a better strategy.”
The ultimate lesson, for Jobson, however had nothing to do with the specific races.
“The 12-Metre class is a viable, very interesting class both tactically and operationally,” he said. “They need to keep sailing.”
Given the interest in classic yachting in Newport and throughout the sailing world, it’s likely this won’t be an issue down the road.
Racing for Part II of Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex will start on Wednesday and continue through Saturday when the regatta will conclude with the Rolex Awards Banquet.