by Jan Harley
New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup 2011 presented by Rolex is set to start on September 10th with 16 nations from six different continents hitting the waves off Newport, R.I.
ANTIX(team Ireland) - New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup
A large number of the twenty-two participating yacht clubs will journey great distances to compete in the event such as Itchenor Sailing Club (GBR), Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER) and Yacht Club Capri (ITA), however, some of the competitors may have an edge coming from their own island locales to New York Yacht Club’s home on Aquidneck Island.
Comparable to New York Yacht Club’s location in Newport, Itchenor Sailing Club’s (ISC) base in Chichester Harbor on the South coast of England is considered one of the country’s most popular sailing venues.
'Whilst we appear to be a small sailing club up an estuary, the club has produced a number of Olympic and America’s Cup sailors as well as national and class champions,' said Barry Sampson (Bosham, West Sussex), who will be at the helm of the team representing ISC. Founded in 1927, ISC is well-known for having the largest (100+ boats) and most active fleet of Mirror class dinghies in England, and possibly the world.
ISC may indeed have an ace in the hole with Sampson, who has not only owned a Swan 42 since 2008 but also twice competed in Newport at the Swan Nationals (’08, ’09) and who last year campaigned Long Echo in Europe and the Caribbean where he won the 2010 Swan Caribbean Challenge.
Gearing up to represent ISC for the first time in the Invitational Cup, Long Echo will return to Newport to sail the Swan 42 Nationals (July 14-17) with two crew having been together at almost every event Long Echo has raced plus three others who have been aboard for at least two regattas.
'I have sailed the 42 both in Narragansett Bay and outside [on Rhode Island Sound],' said Sampson. 'Certainly outside the conditions are much as we would find in the Solent and Hayling Bay where one is very conscious of the tide and currents. As ever, we are all greatly looking forward to sailing in those waters.'
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) also will tap into a reserve of local knowledge as well as experience in the 42 when they compete in the Invitational Cup for the second time (having placed sixth overall in 2009) with Mark Watson at the helm. Watson, owner of the Swan 42 Tiburon, has seen success sailing in Newport – winning the Swan 42 National Championship in 2008. And like ISC, his RBYC team will also return to compete at the nationals in Newport as part of their preparation for the Invitational Cup.
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC), which shares the same birth year as NYYC (1844), was established largely by officers of the British Army stationed in Bermuda. The island itself was discovered in 1505 by navigator Juan de Bermúdez who claimed it for the Spanish Empire about 20 years before Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano was in Narragansett Bay, and, since 1936, the two islands have been inextricably linked in sailing history through the biennial 635-mile Newport Bermuda Race.
Like Newport, the Yacht Club Capri’s home is on the island of Capri became a popular resort in the second half of the 19th century. And although the Yacht Club Capri is one of the youngest clubs entered in the Invitational Cup, having been established in 1999 with the intent of promoting and furthering nautical and sailing sporting activities on the island, the island itself has been inhabited since the days of the Ancient Greeks.
'For the preparation of the Newport race we're considering doing some training in Tuscany where we can rent a Swan 42,' said Conny Vuotto (Capri), skipper of the YCC team, acknowledging that only navigator Giuseppe Montella has experience in the class (from racing the class’s Mediterranean circuit aboard Cuordileone). Vuotto also concedes a lack of experience with current, which is a key factor when sailing in Newport. 'In Italy the current is not very strong.
There is no long wave – only if it is bad weather. We generally race in the Mediterranean so we just don’t know well the characteristics of the ocean. In the Mediterranean, the main feature, especially in the summer, is the thermal wind with a maximum of 15 knots and calm seas.'
The recurring theme among competitors – who must be non-professional (Corinthian) sailors – was summed up by Vuotto: 'It's a great honor for us to have been invited to the Invitational Cup, and we hope to have a wonderful experience and to make a good race.'
New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup website