Premiere Corinthian big boat regatta
Published on September 11th, 2023
The eighth edition of the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup gets underway in 2023 when 19 teams line-up on September 12-16 in Newport, RI. As the premiere Corinthian big boat regatta in the USA, equally matched IC37s will provide the platform for this biennial championship.
With 14 nations represented, of the many illustrious clubs that have previously competed, two have most consistently demonstrated the necessary boatspeed and crew handling that are the hallmarks of winning one-design crews: Southern Yacht Club (USA) and Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (AUS). One of the two has placed first and/or second in the past three editions, dating to 2017.
The two teams’ run of success began six years ago, when Southern Yacht Club posted a 12-point victory over Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron for its first victory in the prestigious regatta. Two years later, in 2019, it was Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s turn to win its first Invitational Cup, posting a four-point victory that went down to the final day of racing, while Southern Yacht Club placed fifth.
Yearning to defend their historic title—Royal Sydney was the first team from the Southern Hemisphere to win the coveted trophy—in 2021, helmsman Guido Belgiorno-Nettis and crew were “very disappointed” when they were denied the opportunity due to travel restrictions resulting from the COVID 19 pandemic. Instead, Southern Yacht Club, helmed by 2004 Olympic Silver medalist (Tornado) John Lovell, posted a 10-point victory for its second title in three editions.
“We watched the 2021 Invitational Cup with fascination, jealousy, and frustration,” said Belgiorno-Nettis. “Sitting on the couch, my team were sure we could’ve given the 2021 competing teams a good run for their money. But I know that reality will set the record straight when we turn up at the start line. Then the talk stops and the action will begin.”
So, when racing for this year’s regatta begins , the Invitational Cup will in effect have two defending champions. The two teams are returning the same helmsmen from 2021 and 2019, Lovell for Southern Yacht Club and Belgiorno-Nettis for Royal Sydney, and each crew has been on the water in advance to practice in the IC37s.
“We’ve been working the kinks out the past couple of days,” said Lovell. “I think our crew work is pretty good, but time and distance is what we’ve been struggling with and working on. Hitting the start line at full speed within three to four meters of the start line and being able to sail straight for two minutes is critical. If you can do that, you’ll be in the game.”
Belgiorno-Nettis added, “We’re very rusty. We haven’t done any sailing as a team since 2019. You have to be good sailors; you have to have a great team. A quiet team is a fast team. Most important, you have to be consistent. You don’t have to win every race, but if you have good results eventually it comes your way, I think.”
Of the 19 teams entered this year, 17 have previous experience in the regatta. The two first-time entrants are the Corinthian Yacht Club (USA) and Yacht Club Punta del Este (URU).
Two of the 17 returning clubs, New York Yacht Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL), have raced each edition of the Invitational Cup. And two sailors in this year’s fleet have also raced in each edition of the Invitational Cup: Royal Cork helmsman Anthony O’Leary and Royal Canadian Yacht Club crewmember John Millen.
“The standard of competition goes without saying, but what we really have great confidence in is the ability of the Technical Committee to prepare boats of equal standing for each competing team at the Invitational Cup,” said O’Leary, who has helmed the Royal Cork entry at each previous event. “This is important for competitors and gives us all a belief that we are as close to a ‘level playing pitch’ as is possible for an event of this nature.”
“This regatta, you have people who come to it from all around the world,” said Millen, who has raced with Royal Canadian six times and the New York Yacht Club once. “Racing in Swan 42s was fantastic. With the IC37s, the modern boats, even practicing racing is incredibly tight. The importance of being consistent, the margins of victory and loss are so tiny and so it can be incredibly satisfying or painful, and that makes it fun.”
Racing will take place off of Newport, either offshore on Rhode Island Sound or inshore on Narragansett Bay, and up to 12 races are planned for the series, with as many as four on any given day.
The first race is scheduled for 1100 on Tuesday, September 12. A live race-by-race broadcast of the regatta will start on Wednesday, September 13.
Editor’s note: The path of Hurricane Lee is not yet known but may have an impact by the end of the event.
The Corinthian Yacht Club (USA)
Howth Yacht Club (IRL)
Itchenor Sailing Club (GBR)
Japan Sailing Federation (JPN)
New York Yacht Club, (USA)
Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER)
Nyländska Jaktklubben (FIN)
Real Club Náutico de Barcelona (ESP)
Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN)
Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL)
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (HKG)
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (NZL)
Royal Swedish Yacht Club (SWE)
Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (AUS)
Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (CAN)
Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR)
Southern Yacht Club (USA)
Yacht Club Argentino (ARG)
Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (ITA)
Yacht Club Punte del Este (URY)