by Jan Harley
New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex - Many of the world’s best known yacht clubs were established under royal patronage or granted the privileged title at some point in their history. Eleven that fall into that category are among the 20 yacht club teams that will compete from September 7th to 14th, 2013, on Swan 42s in the 2013 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, including Real Club Náutico de Barcelona (Barcelona, ESP), Royal Belgian Sailing Club (Zeebrugge, BEL), Royal Cork Yacht Club (Crosshaven, IRL) and the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (Stockholm, SWE).Newport, R.I., USA (June 13, 2013) The ninth Lord Inchiquin not only established Royal Cork Yacht Club in 1720, he lent his castle on Hawlbowline Island for its activities and in doing so founded what is generally considered to be the world’s oldest yacht club. Since 1831, by grant of King William IV, the club has carried the Royal prefix. In more recent history RCYC has demonstrated their competitiveness in events ranging from the Admiral’s Cup to the Olympics. Their participation in the 2013 Invitational Cup will once again see Anthony O’Leary leading the Irish team. Having finished fifth and eighth in the first two editions of this Corinthian event, O’Leary is looking forward to 'third time lucky' in Newport as a majority of the RCYC team has competed in one of the previous events. 'Good old-fashioned one-design skill and teamwork is of paramount importance at this event, and we rely on the Technical Committee to equalize the boats – leaving us sailors without excuses if we don’t perform,' said O’Leary. 'We only get the chance to sail in one-design boats of this size at Newport, and the international dimension elevates this event to its being our number one priority for 2013.' Established in 1876, the Real Club Náutico de Barcelona, which was granted the Royal distinction by Alfonso XIII in 1888, is one of the oldest yacht clubs in Spain. Located in the modern yacht harbor of Port Vell, RCNB is surrounded with evidence of Barcelona’s position in history as the greatest maritime power in the Mediterranean by virtue of its strategic location on the Balearic Sea. The Old Port Authority, an ornate structure built in 1907 as a maritime station, is nearby, as is the Museu Marítim which is housed in a landmark building on the site of the medieval shipyards. A focal point of this historic area on Barcelona’s bustling waterfront is the 197-foot-tall Columbus Monument that was constructed in 1888 to honor the explorer’s first voyage to the Americas. The RCNB team will make its third attempt to win the Invitational Cup, and this edition will see Javier Scherk at the helm for the second consecutive time. 'This is the best regatta by far I have ever done,' said Scherk who is assembling a team that has sailed together for 40 years on a variety of boats – starting with a Ron Holland half-tonner and now a J/80 – named Gunter. 'My father built up a crew of very young people and we are still sailing together,' said Scherk, who explained that his teammates have all been 470, Finn or Laser sailors, and together were second in class in the Round the Island Race (Isle of Wight), while also competing in IMS and ORC races, as well as in the Melges 32 class. Scherk noted that better understanding of the Swan 42, and being together more as a team, form the basis of the team’s preparations for the upcoming regatta. The Royal Belgian Sailing Club, founded in 1863 on the Leie River in Ghent, and receiving its royal designation in 1873, is the largest sailing club in Belgium with over 2,500 active members. Initial competitions were held on the canal linking Ghent to Terneuzen. Today, however, after relocations necessitated by the first and second World Wars, the club has operations in Zeebrugge, Heusden, Duinbergen and Het Zoute. 'Our club is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year,' said Commodore André Annicq who noted that the anniversary festivities would include a royal visit from Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde later this month. 'The Invitational Cup is presented as one of the lead events during this celebration year,' he added. Regular practice for RBSC’s first entry in the Invitational Cup is taking place on a Swan 45 owned by Patrick Van Heurck who will lead the Invitational Cup team. In the coming months, while negotiating logistical challenges posed by team members residing across the globe, the 'tenacious' Belgian team will charter a Swan 42. Formed in 1830, the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS) was given royal status in 1878 and is the oldest yacht club in Sweden as well as in Europe outside the British Isles. International recognition accompanied the success of several club members: Eric Lundberg, who in 1929 won all 11 races in the Swedish-German-American Square Metre event off the coast of Marblehead (USA) and was deemed an important ambassador of the class by noted yacht designer L. Francis Herreshoff; Erik Åkerlund, won the gold at the 1932 Olympics, and Sven Salén, who won bronze at the 1936 Games, both in the six Metre class. Since the 1920s KSSS has organized the most prestigious race on the Baltic Sea, the Round Gotland Race. The club is also the Challenger of Record for the 2013 Americas Cup. 'We know it’s highly competent teams, who have sailed Swan 42s for a long time, that participate,' said Team Captain Douglas Eklund on the club’s first entry in the Invitational Cup. 'We know that the races are tight and we have made great connections with local Swedish sailors living in Newport to learn more about the sailing waters. Some of us have sailed Swan 42s before and we know how important the team work onboard this boat is.' 'Most of us in the team are sailing addicts for life, and Newport is historical grounds for us. This is a unique opportunity for us to be a part of the real sailing in Newport.'
The Royal Cork Yacht Club (seen here during the 2011 Invitational Cup) will be led once again by Anthony O’Leary when they compete in 2013