Harken Derm

Tradition launches NYYC Annual Regatta

Published on June 8th, 2018

Newport, RI (June 8, 2018) – One frequent path to overall honors in a multi-division short-distance race is by sailing in a pack of similar boats. The proximity of close competition provides a real-time speed gauge and persistent incentive to stayed focused, spurring the group toward the podium.

For today’s Around-the-Island Race, which is a fixture for the opening day of the New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta, however, there was speed to be found in sailing alone. The overall winners in IRC, PHRF and the Classics division all spent much of the 19-mile race sailing without nearby competitors against which they could measure their performance.

“We try and sail the boat fast and pass boats as we go up the course,” says Michael D’Amelio, who won PHRF overall on his TP52 Denali. “When you can’t sail level with other boats, that’s what you have to do, sail the boat as fast as you can.”

To win the overall PHRF trophy, D’Amelio and his crew had to beat a field of 25 boats. But Denali is one of the fastest boats in the field, and started with just two other boats long after the other 22 had been sent on their way.

After a beat to the south tip of Conanicut Island, the fleet turned north and set spinnakers for a long run down the West Passage of Narragansett Bay. With the fleet of more than a hundred yachts stretched out in front of them, D’Amelio and his longtime crew went to work, using the TP52’s downwind performance to reel in the slower boats.

“We thought that our downwind performance was reasonably good today,” says D’Amelio. “We did a good job on the reach legs, and I think the other place we probably picked up some distance was on the last beat.

“We short-tacked the [Jamestown shore] to stay out of the current. Then we headed back to the Jamestown shore after [passing under] the Newport Bridge and stayed there as long as we could until we had to come out [and head to the finish off Fort Adams].”

Working the Jamestown shore also proved pivotal for George Sakellaris’ team on the Maxi72 Proteus. As the fastest monohull to start the race, Proteus raced against the clock all the way around the island, finishing the race in 1h:52m:38s and beating the second-placed boat on corrected time by more than four minutes.

“Once we came around the [north] point of the island, first we went on the left side,” says Sakellaris, “then we saw we would get [a favorable shift] if we came back to the right and sure enough when we came back to the right that gave us a very good lane as we went under the bridge, and I think we gained a lot.”

While the bulk of his racing is done in Europe, Sakellaris (Framingham, MA) is no stranger to the Annual Regatta having last sailed here with his fellow Maxi72s in 2016.

“We have tried to win [this race] before, but we came a little bit short. It was a very good day. The winds were in our favor.”

After a winter of work on his 1935 S&S yacht Sonny, Craig Venter was ecstatic with his overall win in the Classics.

“We didn’t see too many boats around us the whole race,” he says. “This is Sonny’s first race of the season. We did some work on it over the winter, so I couldn’t be more delighted to start off this new season with a win.

“I think we constantly made time on the [second-placed] Blackfish that was a little bit in front of us. That’s a newer boat. We felt we sailed really well. It’s just a phenomenal crew. These early boats need a lot of TLC and a crew that really knows how to sail them.”

The Annual Regatta is North America’s oldest annual sailing event. It was first run in 1845 on the Hudson River and has been sailed out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, in Newport, R.I., since 1988.

​The weekend portion of the 164th Annual Regatta starts tomorrow with buoy racing for IRC and one-design fleets and navigator-course racing for ORR, PHRF and Classics. During the evening more than 700 sailors, family and friends will gather at Harbour Court for the season’s biggest sailing social event, the Annual Regatta Dinner.

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Source: Stuart Streuli, NYYC

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