Inter-club circuit gains a new entry

Published on September 11th, 2019

Inter-club racing across the USA has gained a new and unique event that will be getting its launch September 13-15 in Annapolis, MD. Called the AYC 3-2-1 Invitational, Annapolis Yacht Club has attracted seven teams to compete in a unique format that will require varied skills among the 6-person teams.

“AYC has been traveling to these regattas and seeing how great they are,” said John Howell, co-chairman of the AYC 3-2-1 Invitational. “Our leadership wisely decided that AYC needs to be on the circuit and in the game.”

Howell, who was a member of the sailing program at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, explained the younger generation is driving this nationwide phenomenon.

“It has become obvious the sailing world is changing. You’ve got an emerging group of young sailors that came through the high school and college scene and did a ton of team racing along the way,” Howell said. “They want to continue racing post-college, but do not want to get involved in an arms race of having the best and fastest boat. They would rather continue with team racing using keelboats.”

Among the prominent events is the Newport Harbor Yacht Club in California with the Baldwin Trophy, a four-versus-four team racing regatta in Harbor 20s. New York Yacht Club initiated the Morgan Trophy, a three-on-three event using Sonars. Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans holds the Soiland Cup, a three-boat per team competition aboard Flying Scots.

What separates the AYC 3-2-1 Invitational from those previously mentioned and others is the format and types of boats being used.

“What’s unique about the event is that big boats are being used and the format will change. It is a combination of three-on-three team racing, two-on-two team racing, and one-on-one match racing,” said Bill Jorch, co-chairman of the AYC 3-2-1 Invitational. “This regatta will require varied skills and test the sailors in different ways.”

Annapolis Yacht Club owns a fleet of eight J/22 sloops and has two others being donated to serve as platforms for the three-on-three and two-on-two match racing. AYC and J/30 fleet members Bob Rutsch and Ron Anderson are strong supporters of the event and, after providing their boats for the “dry run” in the spring, are once again loaning their J/30s for the invitational regatta.

“We wanted the same group of sailors representing each yacht club to have to sail in all the different disciplines,” Jorch said. “We chose a boat big enough to require a crew of six.”

Bebop (Bob Rutsch and Mike Costello) and Insatiable (Ron Anderson) – two of the most successful J/30s in Annapolis – will both be impeccably prepared to ensure a fair match race.

Annapolis Yacht Club is fielding two separate teams and will be joined by entries from Fishing Bay Yacht Club (Deltaville, VA), New York Yacht Club (Newport, RI), and Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Newport Beach, CA). Rhode Island will be represented by a combination of sailors from Ida Lewis Yacht Club and Bristol Yacht Club. Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis will round out the field.

Racing will begin on day one with all three disciplines running concurrently on two adjacent courses set on the Severn River off Lake Ogleton. Team racing will be conducted on a box course that features two short reaching legs while match racing will be held on a standard windward-leeward course.

Annapolis Yacht Club organizers will have 11 US Sailing-certified umpires on the two courses – nine for team racing and two for match racing. Decisions regarding fouls and protests will be made immediately on the water.

“One cool aspect of the regatta is there will be three races taking place simultaneously on side-by-side courses. This regatta will be action-packed and very spectator-friendly,” Howell said.

Jorch, a former Georgetown University sailor and AYC member since April 2014, said the club conducted a test event in May and things ran smoothly. Jorch said the goal is to run three round-robin series so each team races every other team once in each discipline.

“We wanted to hold a team racing championship that was unique and different. To our knowledge, this regatta is the first of its kind and is designed to test the versatility of all the sailors involved,” he said.

Annapolis Yacht Club has been holding team race practices every Monday night for three years now with 10-15 members regularly attending. Leaders within that group have been exploring the idea of having AYC host a new invitational and kicked around several plans before settling on the 3-2-1 format.

“It incorporates old school match racing with traditional team racing. All the wins and losses count the same so the magic here is that you need depth to the team,” Howell said. “Winning will require having an all-around team. Showing up with three college All-American team race drivers is not going to be good enough.”

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