Finding the mojo at NYYC Race Week

Published on September 24th, 2020

Newport, RI (September 24, 2020) – With just a few days to get up to speed in a new one-design class before New York Yacht Club’s Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex, Michael Goldfarb (Seattle, WA) knew exactly where to focus his Waka Jawaka crew’s energy.

“We came four days before the event started,” says Goldfarb, who has partnered with Laura Grondin (West Hartford, CT) to charter a Melges IC37 for the abbreviated fall season. “All we did was set marks and go around them: tack, tack, set, jibe, jibe, jibe, douse. Three days of that, because my view is if you can’t go around the corners, nothing else good is going to happen for you.”

After struggling off the starting line on Day 1, it all came together today for Waka Jawaka with three firsts and a third. The performance vaulted Goldfarb and Grondin from fifth to first with eight races in the books.

The lead over second, Qubit, skippered by Chris Lewis (Seabrook, TX), is 9 points with Day 1 co-leader Pacific Yankee in third, three points further back. There were a number of protests in the class, so the overall standings may shift slightly overnight, but nothing is going to displace Waka Jawaka for the moment.

While Goldfarb is new to the Melges IC37 class, he is a veteran sportboat sailor, with success in Melges 24s, J/70s and Farr 30s. He also made sure to pull in some experienced talent, namely Shawn and Steven Burke (Atlanta, GA), who sailed last season in the Melges IC37 class and brought valuable knowledge to Waka Jawaka program. Goldfarb was also quick to credit the New York Yacht Club’s charter program.

“I think these are fantastic boats,” he says. “They’re fun to sail, not super tweaky, but they’re very even and the yacht club boats are just in amazing condition. We came out here, we chartered and it’s like having your own boat.”

For Paul Zabetakis, getting back behind the wheel of his Swan 42 Impetuous was like hopping back on the proverbial bike after a long layoff, Only this bike came with a key new feature. It took a day for Zabetakis and his crew to truly get back into the swing of racing, but on Day 2 they were impossible to beat, winning each of three races in ORC 2 to take a 1-point lead over Tom Sutton’s Leading Edge in what has become a two-horse race for the title. Third-placed Das Blau Max is 17 points behind.

“The boat’s going real well,” says Zabetakis (Jamestown, RI). “Now that we’re not doing one-design racing, we did make one change to the boat. We put on a new rudder, which was a Greg Stewart design. The 42s had no helm at all. In 5 knots or 20 knots, it was the same thing. Now I have a little bit of feel upwind and downwind it’s better also.”

While the calendar says fall, the weather today on Rhode Island Sound was definitely more reminiscent of high summer, with plentiful sunshine, temps in the 70s and a building southwesterly sea breeze, conditions that are as familiar as a pair of old jeans to anyone who’s raced off Newport.

“The first race started out really light,” says Zabetakis. “I think when we started it was 5 to 6 knots. The second race was medium conditions, 10 to 15. By the end of the second race, it started getting very breezy, and then the last race we were sitting on 15 knots with a couple of shots to 18. It was starting to get a little lumpy out there.”

For a team looking to assess a major modification, it would be hard to think of a more perfect day. A full range of conditions and some good competition against which to gauge performance.

“This is the first time we’ve been out in the boat since last year, the first time with the new rudder,” he says. “I was feeling good that boat, both in light- and heavy-air conditions, was doing well. Every time time we were near Rikki (a Reichel/Pugh 42, the fastest-rated boat in ORC 2), we would generally lift off of her. We just picked the right windshifts, and the boat was fast.”

Over more than a decade of regularly racing Impetuous, Zabetakis has acquired one of Newport’s most loyal crews. While everyone likes to see a string of 1’s on their scorecard, the opportunity to reunite with his sailing family was just as enjoyable.

“Except for one person on the boat, everyone is the regular crew, and it’s just a blast,” he says. “My attitude coming in was I just wanted to have a good time and get back with the crew.”

Victor Wild’s Pac52 Fox (San Diego, CA) won the day in ORC 1, moving within one point of David Team’s Vesper (Newport Beach, CA) for the overall lead. Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (Naples, FL) won Race 2, but struggled in Race 1 and sits third, 11 points off the overall lead.

Both ORC divisions will do a coastal race tomorrow, while the Melges IC37s will continue buoy racing.

The biennial regatta takes place September 23-26 on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound.

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DAY TWO RESULTS (Top Three):

ORC 1 (ORC – 6 Boats)
1. Vesper, TP52, David Team, Newport Beach, CA, USA – 1 -2 -1 -1 -3 -2 ; 10
2. FOX, Botin 52, Victor Wild, San Diego, CA, USA – 2 -1 -3 -2 -2 -1 ; 11
3. Bella Mente, Maxi 72, Hap Fauth, Naples, FL, USA – 3 -6 -2 -6 -1 -3 ; 21

ORC 2 (ORC – 8 Boats)
1. Impetuous, Swan 42, Paul Zabetakis, Jamestown, RI, USA – 2 -3 -1 -1 -1 -1 ; 9
2. Leading Edge, J 109, William Sutton, Houston, TX, USA – 1 -1 -2 -2 -2 -2 ; 10
3. Das Blau Max, Farr 30, Cory Sertl, Jamestown, RI, USA – 4 -2 -5 -3 -6 -7 ; 27

Melges IC37 (One Design – 12 Boats)
1. Waka Jawaka, Michael Goldfarb / Laura Grondin, Seattle, WA, USA – 2 -7 -4 -7 -1 -1 -1 -3 ; 26
2. Qubit, Chris Lewis, Seabrook, TX, USA – 3 -4 -6 -4 -2 -7 -3 -6 ; 35
3. Pacific Yankee, Drew Freides / Bill Ruh, Los Angeles, CA, USA – 4 -1 -1 -6 -5 -13 -6 -2 ; 38

The New York Yacht Club’s Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex was first run in 1998, with the biennial regatta, traditionally run at the apex of the summer sailing season, having established itself as one of the premier summer race weeks in the Northeast thanks to its attractive combination of great racing conditions off Newport and the superlative shoreside hospitality at the Club’s waterfront Clubhouse overlooking Newport Harbor.

Source: NYYC

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