Variety of Courses at NYYC Race Week
Published on July 14th, 2016
Newport, RI (July 14, 2016) – Sometimes the best plan is the simplest one, and that was certainly the case for David Rosow and his team on the J/109 Loki on Day 2 of the 2016 NYYC Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex.
Building upon a solid start on the Day 1, Rosow legged out today, winning two of the three races and increasing his advantage over second place to seven points. Third is a distant 18 points back.
“It was a basic plan of get a good start and keep things simple,” said Rosow, of Southport, Conn. “The team is working great. It is a super group of guys and one woman. The program is based on fun firstly, and then let’s go win some races.”
While the team ethic may be based on enjoying time on the water, this is a significant event for Loki and the other 18 J/109s competing. The class’s North American Championship, one of the three continental championships that are taking place at the Race Week, is annually the class’s biggest regatta.
Knowing the competitiveness of the fleet and the capricious nature of the sport, Rosow and his team kept their expectations modest.
“We came into this event with a goal to place well,” he said. “Obviously any competitor wants to win, and I want to win. We knew it was going to be tough and it has been so far. We are only halfway there right now; we are just taking it one race at a time.”
Joining the J/109s for three buoy races were the Swan 42s, which are battling for the class’s 10th North American championship, each one held off Newport. John Hele won all three races today and is in first place with his team on Daring, three points ahead of Paul Zabetakis and the team on Impetuous.
The remainder of the 73 boats competing in Part II of Race Week sailed a distance race today. New York Yacht Club Rear Commodore Bill Ketcham (Greenwich, Conn.) continued his domination of IRC 3, winning his fourth consecutive race on board his 37-year-old J/44 Maxine.
“The J/44 is really competitive in 16 to 20 knots, which is what we’ve had,” he said. “If it was 5 to 10, it might be a different story. Also one-design sailing, which is how we normally race, really helps you learn how to sail the boat fast. And it’s a real advantage when you’re in handicap sailing. You don’t know how you’re doing [against the rest of the fleet] but you know how your boat should be doing.”
And, he added, having an experienced and cohesive crew is quite beneficial in the heavy air. “I have a great crew. Sail handling is everything, and we have 12 people who know exactly what they’re doing. My team’s been sailing with me for a long, long time and it’s flawless.”
Without a local expert on board, Ketcham and his team went to school on the charts of Narragansett Bay in preparation for today’s race, which took them around Conanicut Island.
“Some of the local boats were doing smarter things than we were doing,” he said, “but we managed to hang in there. We didn’t make too many mistakes.”
Neither did the team on Clay Deutsch’s Newport-based C&C 30 One-Design Just a Friend. Having grown up in Newport, tactician Geoff Ewenson long ago lost track of how many times he’s raced around Conanicut Island.
“In my lifetime? It has to be about 100,” he said. “I love it. There’s something new every time. Starting down the west side of the island, the lead four boats went left toward [the mainland] and the fourth or fifth boat was early to jibe and just had huge acceleration along the south end of Jamestown. The guys in the back decided to jibe early, and it allowed them to sail into the front group and then everything was super compact.”
Re-starts are quite common during races around Conanicut Island. While the track appears to be relatively straightforward, the intricacies of the shoreline—and how it effects the breeze—combine with the variable currents to create a very complex racecourse. The fact that the C&C 30s, a light one-design with a large bowsprit, are often sailing fairly hot angles downwind only magnifies the complexity.
“The turning point for us was after the Jamestown Bridge,” says Ewenson, who now calls Annapolis, Md., home. In the southerly breeze the trip north up the West Passage of Narragansett Bay was a sweet downwind run. “We favored the western side, the Wickford shore. Everyone on the beach of Jamestown was looking great in a left shift off the shore, but they couldn’t find a good angle to come across.
“The cool thing about these boats, because you’re sailing bow up with asymmetric spinnakers, you have to deal with a lot of shifts and crosses downwind. It’s as tactical as a beat for other boats.”
Deutsch’s crew finished second on the water, but the first boat across the line, Dan Cheresh’s Extreme2—which had been leading the regatta to that point—was one of two boats that failed to honor a channel marker near the Dumplings Rocks in the East Passage. Both boats retired, and now the standings at the top of the leader board are extremely tight. At stake is the class’s first North American title.
In the lead, Extreme2 is tied on points with Nigel Biggs’ Checkmate. Each has 15 points. A pair of boats are deadlocked on 17 points, with Just a Friend fifth with 18 points, but only three points off the lead.
The biennial multi-class regatta is hosted by the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court and is a highlight of Newport’s busy summer sailing season. Race Week is known for its split format: Classics and multihulls sailed in Part I of the regatta, from July 9-10, while one-design and handicap classes sailing Part II from Wednesday, July 13, to Saturday, July 16, when the regatta will culminated with a Rolex Awards Dinner on the spectacular grounds of Harbour Court.
Aside from winning Race Week hardware, the event is also being used as the J/109 North Americans, the Swan 42 US Nationals and the inaugural C&C 30 One-Design Class North Americans.
Day 2 of Part 2 of 2016 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by ROLEX. All photos Rolex / Daniel Forster