Entries are closed for America’s oldest regatta, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) 158th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex. The event has been officially declared the biggest ever with 133 boats entered in weekend racing, scheduled for June 9 and 10.
Bella Mente the Mini Maxi of Hap Fauth - 2010 New York Yacht Club’s 156th Annual Regatta
104 have boats signed up for an optional and separately scored 19-mile Around the (Conanicut) Island Race on Friday, June 8. (All but 13 of the latter entries will sail in both events, making the count 146 unique entries for the combined events, which surpasses the 2011 record total of 141.)
Since 1845, the tradition of the Annual Regatta, first hosted at the New York Yacht Club’s original clubhouse in Hoboken, N.J., has been interrupted only by war, and this year, over a century and a half later, the regatta, headquartered at NYYC’s on-the-water clubhouse Harbour Court in Newport, R.I., shows no signs of slowing down, especially as it is a tune-up in even-numbered years, as this is, for the June Newport Bermuda Race and part of the venerable Onion Patch Series (consisting of Annual Regatta weekend racing, the Newport Bermuda Race, and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta, once boats get to Bermuda).
'Competing in the Annual Regatta and the Onion Patch series is important to us because there is so much history to it all,' said Stephen Murray Jr. (New Orleans, La.), who last sailed the Annual Regatta in 2006 with his TP 52 Decision and this year is bringing the much talked about first-of-three recently announced launches in the new Carkeek 40 line. 'The last significant big-boat campaign out of my own Southern Yacht Club was Acadia in the 1980s. It was a German Frers 51 ‘back in the day’ when IOR was king, and the boat had a great pedigree as a winner of the SORC and Onion Patch Series. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve looked at pictures of Acadia on the walls of our club, and when we started racing grand prix, a lot of comparisons started to be made between that boat and our Decision campaigns, so we decided to try to replicate, as best we could, Acadia’s competitive endeavors and victories.'
The Decision team, which considers itself 'still teething' since taking delivery of the Carkeek 40 in March, started with some spring regattas in the Caribbean before taking victory in the Regatta Al Sol 'warm weather Bermuda Race' from Pensacola, Fla. to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
And while perfecting distance racing is part of the master plan, supporting a new High Performance Rule (HPR) for IRC boats in the 40-foot range is perhaps a higher priority for Murray, who hopes to see Decision and its classmates regularly dual-scored with HPR and IRC in the near future. 'We have the momentum now for a 40-foot class to congeal quickly, coming together like the TP 52s did.
The HPR has an age factor built in so older boats built to IRC can be brought in to race with us.' Making its debut at Annual Regatta is Hap Fauth’s (Minneapolis, Minn.) newly built Judel-Vrolijk 72’ mini maxi Bella Mente, which has been practicing in local waters since it launched from New England Boatworks in April.
Fauth, who received the 2011 Mosbacher Trophy as the NYYC Yachtsman of the Year, says the boat is very different and more powerful than his last Bella Mente, also a mini maxi that set a new record in the 2011 Transpac Race. 'It has an extended beam forward, is deeper, with more draft, and a bigger rig, so there’s more sail area,' said Fauth, 'but do we have a speed demon? I really don’t know, because we haven’t lined up with anybody yet. If we were to get graded on homework, we’d get an ‘A’ for sure, but homework doesn’t necessarily correlate to results immediately.'
Fauth added that with the designer and builder having met all his expectations, he is hopeful to have a boat that’s competitive across all conditions, 'and if we sail well, we’ll have the opportunity to do well.' He depends on a veteran international crew that includes its fair share of Newport sailors and plans to next sail the Newport to Bermuda Race, then move on overseas to the Copa del Rey, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup & Mini Maxi World Championship, the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
'This will be very good training, to go out and go through the paces, and see what we’ve got set up…our spinnaker take-down system, see if that’s correct or not…and so on,' said Fauth.'We’ve won Bermuda on the original Bella Mente, and then Transpac, but I’ve never sailed the Fastnet or Sydney Hobart. Those are the ‘man-beater’ races that are on my bucket list, so I’m going after them with a vengeance. For those, you have to have the machinery and the heart to do them, and if you have both of those and a reasonable plan, you are in the game.'
Bella Mente is among the largest boats in the Annual Regatta fleet, which also includes George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) RP 90 Rambler and George Sakellaris’s (Framingham, Mass.) 72’ mini maxi Shockwave, which claimed a podium finish of third last year. Among the standout skippers competing on more than 20 J boats entered in IRC are David Murphy (Westport, Conn.), the USA’s only RC 44 circuit skipper, taking the helm of his J/122 Pugwash; past J/122 North American champion Mike Bruno (Irvington, N.Y.) on his J/122 Wings; past J/109 North American champions Rick Lyall (Annapolis, Md.) and Bill Sweetser (Wilton, Conn.) on the J/109s Rush and Storm, respectively, and Henry Brauer/Stew Neff (Marblehead, Mass.), current J/105 champions sailing the J/111 Fleetwing. Returning to defend their 2011 Annual Regatta class titles are David and Sandra Askew (Annapolis, Md.), sailing the IRC 52 Flying Jenny; Rives Potts (Westbrook, Conn.) aboard his IRC entry, the custom 48 Carina; Ben Hall and Bill Berges (Tiverton, R.I.) on their PHRF winner, the Evelyn 32 Bluto; Kenneth Colburn (Dover, Mass) in the NYYC Swan 42 class with Apparition; Michael McCaffrey (Newport) in the Herreshoff S class with Osprey; Dennis Williams (Hobe Sound, Fla.) in the 12 Metre class with Victory 83; and classic yacht skippers Joseph Dockery (Newport) with his custom S&S 53 Sonny, Samuel Croll (Greenwich, Conn.) with his 8 Metre Angelita, and Joe Loughborough with his Luders 24 Belle.
Racing for the NYYC Annual Regatta presented by Rolex takes place on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound for all classes, with a PHRF Navigator Class -- for those who prefer a classic government buoy course to the more prevalent short-course racing on Saturday and Sunday -- having the option of racing either one or both of the weekend days. Live music, refreshments and daily prizes greet the sailors as they come ashore after racing each day to the rolling lawn at NYYC’s Harbour Court clubhouse.
New York Yacht Club’s website
Results, photos, and nightly videos produced by T2p.tv, will be available online after each day of racing.