by Dana Paxton
NYYCIC NRV Achim Griese
In a year that marks its 165th anniversary, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) is organizing the Invitational Cup, a highly anticipated fleet racing regatta to take place in Newport, R.I. from September 15-19, 2009.
'This event is, in fact, the world championship for the main yacht clubs of the world,' said Bruno Troublé, who will skipper the Yacht Club de France’s entry. 'Most people do not realize how close the racing will be. Many of the teams will be very strong; although it is too early to say which team will win.'
Troublé’s team will face tough competition from many of the teams including Germany’s Norddeutscher Regatta Verein and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, winner and defender of the America’s Cup, with whom he collaborated on the 1999-2000 and 2003 Louis Vuitton Cups, the Challenger Series he so famously orchestrated for almost 30 years.
Norddeutscher Regatta Verein
Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (NRV) skipper Achim Griese is no stranger to success around the buoys. And he certainly has no trouble sailing well when the buoys are in the United States. In 1983 he won three races and finished second overall at the Star World Championship in Marina del Rey. In 1984, he won the silver medal in the class at the Los Angeles Olympics. Of late, Griese has been an active participant in the X-35 class, finishing eighth in the class’s 2009 world championship earlier this summer. Griese’s son Max Griese will be a member of his crew.
Also onboard the boat will be Gunter Persiehl, the Admiral (past commodore and highest-ranking board member) of the NRV. Persiehl is a top-notch judge who has worked two America’s Cup regattas and the 1996 Olympics. Other crewmembers include Dr. Wolfgang Kaefer, Dr. Albert Diesch, Niels Henschtel, Jan Welken, Maximilian Ziegelmayer, Malte Paesler, and Klaas Hoepcke.
With more than 2,000 members, the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein is Germany’s largest sailing club. It was founded in 1868 and has been dedicated to yacht racing and to sailing ever since. The club’s home waters are the Outer Alster, a small lake—just 1.5 miles long by half a mile wide—created by damming the river of the same name. The club also has a youth clubhouse on the Elbe River and a facility on the Baltic Sea, in Gramkow, Germany. With involvement in such events as Kiel Week, Travemunde Week, Rolex Baltic Week, the transatlantic HSH Nordbank blue race and transatlantic DaimlerChrysler North Atlantic Challenge – the latter two the NYYC started for the NRV – the yacht club helps set the standards on the international sailing scene.
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team may be new to the NYYC Swan 42, but these sailors certainly aren’t new to each other. The majority of the team has sailed together as part of the 'Melville Family,' a group of Kiwi racers bound less by blood than by a shared love of competitive racing. John Melville is the family’s patriarch and skipper.
In 2003, New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup team members Jayson Herbert, Andrew Wills, and Jack Melville (John’s son) helped Melville win the Farr 1020 New Zealand National Championship sailing Max Headroom.
For his 2008 BMW Sailing Cup campaign, Melville enlisted his son, Jack, and fellow NYYC Invitational Cup team members Alastair Gair, Michael Naulls, and Jonathan Rankine. The Bobby’s Girl crew won the New Zealand stage and advanced to the finals in Dubai, where they finished third.
The 2008 China Cup, hosted by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, brought the Melville Family together again. John Melville’s crew aboard the Beneteau First 40.7 Yachtfinders Global included son, Jack, at the mast position, Wills calling tactics, Rankine and Herbert as trimmers, and Matt Kelway (who will also join the Invitational team) on the bow.
When they’re not racing as part of the Melville Family, the individual members of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team still manage to find their way to the podium. Gair is one of New Zealand’s top small-boat racers. He won the 1998 Laser Radial Youth Worlds, the 2002 OK Dinghy New Zealand National Championships, and the 2006 Etchells New Zealand Nationals, and finished second at both the 2002 OK Dinghy World Championship and the 2006 Etchells Worlds. Wills won the 2007 Etchells World Championship crewing for Jud Smith and is the 2008 Young 88 New Zealand national champion; Rankine is currently ranked 183rd on the Open ISAF World Match Race Rankings; Kelway won the 2007 Asian Match Racing Championship. The team’s sole female member, Danielle Bowater, is an accomplished dinghy sailor. Crewing for Susannah Pyatt, Bowater placed 10th at the 2007 Open Women’s World 420 Championships and 11th at the 2009 Governor’s Cup. Rounding out the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team is Robin McGregor and shore manager Chris Collins.
Founded in 1871, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is the country’s oldest and most prominent yacht club. Over the years, boats flying the club burgee have won just about every world-class racing event, including the America’s Cup, the Whitbread Round the World Race, the Kenwood Cup, the Admiral’s Cup, and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. As one of only seven Royal Yacht Squadrons in the world and with the support of more than 2,800 members, the club hosts up to a dozen regattas each year and continues its legacy of racing success, hospitality, and sailing education.
Yacht Club de France
Local knowledge, whether it is in regards to deciphering Newport’s famous summer sea breeze or navigating the city’s equally well-known nightlife, won’t be a problem for the team from Yacht Club de France. Skipper Bruno Troublé spent many summers in Newport in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the skipper of Baron Marcel Bich’s French America’s Cup challenges, and has been back numerous times since in his role as Louis Vuitton’s main connection to the America’s Cup.
'While everything changes in Europe with a lot of new developments going on everywhere, Newport doesn’t change much,' said Troublé. 'It’s the same atmosphere, same bars and restaurants—Black Pearl, Candy Store, etc.—same sticky fog, same smell. Going there is like returning to the 1977 America’s Cup with Turner and Jobson.'
Like the America’s Cup competitions of the 1960s, ’70s, and early ’80s, the NYYC Invitational Cup will have a strong amateur focus, something that Troublé thinks is important for the sport. 'Sailing is now fully professional at the top level, and we need events where the quality of racing is amazing without so many pro sailors around,' he said. 'We are very pleased to participate. It is important for us to come and fly our colors even if we will come with no training.'
But don’t discount the French team just yet. In addition to Troublé, who sailed in the 1968 and 1976 Olympics, the team will also feature tactician Henri Samuel, a 16-year veteran of the French National Team, and mainsheet trimmer Pierre Le Maout, a Formula 40 world champion and an advisor for Dennis Conner’s multihull defense of the America’s Cup in 1988. Rounding out the team are Martin Minvielle, Gabriel de Montrichard, Sebastien David, Daniel Vallencien, Jacques Pelletier, Vincent Roubertie, Eric Vernet, and Bernard Coquelet (with Christian Hunault and Herve Bougeard serving as substitutes).
And even if things don’t go well on the water, with Troublé as their guide, the French team should have little trouble making the most of their time in Newport.
NYYCIC YCF Bruno Trouble
The Yacht Club de France was established in 1867 and bestowed royal patronage by Napoleon III. In 1907, the club merged with the Union des Yachts Français, which was founded in 1891. Among its most famous members are author Jules Verne and French ocean racer Eric Tabarly.
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