by J Boats
An extraordinary lineup of J sailing talent will be taking part in the oldest regatta in America, the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta, with over a century and a half’s worth of history and a wealth of family fun. For three days, yachts sailing in IRC, J one-Design classes as well as a PHRF Cruiser-Racer division will be hosted at New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court and will race on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound. The leading brand by a significant margin are the forty four J's (29%) sailing in the fleet of 153 boats.
J122 New York Yacht Club mooring
'Newport is a great place to sail and offers a very impressive nautical town steeped in tradition,' said Terry McLaughlin, the Canadian Olympic silver medalist, J/24 Canadian Champion, current J/105 owner and former America’s Cup skipper who will be at the helm of John Hele’s 42 footer (himself a past J/24 Canadian champion). 'As well, the New York Yacht Club always does a bang-up job on and off the water. The event has a long history and a lot of competitive classes, so it attracts a wide range of boats and people. I’m a great proponent of one-design racing, because I like to cross the finish line and know immediately how we did,' said McLaughlin. McLaughlin and Hele and the rest of the fleet have been invited to kick off the event on Friday, June 14 with a separately scored 21nm Around the Island Race. The circumnavigation of Jamestown remains a favorite among racing sailors visiting Newport, and at stake in the IRC division is a Rolex Submariner watch, which will be presented to the overall winner during that evening’s festivities at Harbour Court.
Following Friday’s Around the Island Race competitors will split into four fleets with IRC and PHRF classes and one-design classes for J/111, J/105, J/80, J/70 for two days of racing over the weekend. In the IRC Class, there will be several J class champions participating, including Jim Bishop's J/44 Gold Digger and Jack Neades Glory sailing for the US Coast Guard Sailing Team. Also sailing will be three J/122s, including class champions Mike Bruno and crew on Wings, Neil McMillan's Dolphin sailing for the US Naval Academy Sailing Squadron and George and Carole Shaw's Tumbleweed. Joining them is another trio of J/109s that have amongst them several regional and North American champions, including Bill Sweetser's RUDH, Rick Lyall's Storm and Rob Salk/ John Sahagian on Picante.
The J/111 class has a half-dozen boats participating and virtually all boats have podium silverware in their trophy rooms! No 'one-trick ponies' in this group, all boats are well-sailed with good crews and it will be excellent one-design sailing. Recent Annapolis-Newport Race IRC Class winner, Fireball will be sailing with Kristen Berry leading the charge. Challenging them around the track will be Sedgwick Ward's Bravo, Henry Brauer's Fleetwing, Dave Brodsky/ Fred Van Liew's Odyssey, Marty Roesch's Velocity and Doug Curtiss's Wicked 2.0.
The J/105 fleet also has a competitive class of a half-dozen boats with experienced, well-traveled champion teams vying for class honors. Amongst this group, it's a toss-up with all teams having a shot at the podium, including Sean and Susan Doyle's Kestrel, Nelson Weiderman's Kima, Fred Darlington's Tonto, John Koten's Planet Claire, Mark Lindquist's Sterling and Mark and Jolene Masur's Two Feathers.
Fielding ten boats as the largest J one-design class are the J/70s. Included is St Pete Nood Champion Joel Ronning sailing Catapult from Minneapolis, MN and Charleston Race Week's Corinthian Class winners Heather Gregg-Earl and Joe Bardenheier's Muse from Boston, MA. Several new teams are participating in their first major J/70 regatta, including Jen Wulff's Joint Custody, Morgan Paxhia's Penny Pincher, Amory Loring's Rascal and Nick Johnstone on USA 308. Look for the family team of Mom, Dad and the two kids having fun on the Flack's Torqeedo!
J/80s have a fleet of seven remarkably competitive teams, including North American and Sailing World Nood champions peppering the fleet. Chief amongst the leaders will be the Storck family's renown Rum, Will Crump's R80, Jeff Johnstone's Little Feat and Chris and Liz Chadwick's Church Key.
In PHRF world is a mix of fun-loving, fast-sailing J/Teams. Fresh off their Annapolis-Newport experience is Arne Fliflet's J/120 Mazal Tov. Joining them will be the J/24 Nighthawk (the trio of Richard Barker, Jack McVicker, Mike Ryan), the J/29 Meddler (Brian Kiley), the J/33 SIRIUS (Mike Sullivan), the J/92S SPIRIT (EC Helme) and the J/100 Grimace (Dawson Hodgson). In the PHRF Navigator's class is the majestic offshore J/160 TRUE skippered by Howie Hodgson.
NYYC Annual Regatta website