During today’s Around the Island Race that kicked off the New York Yacht Club 160th Annual Regatta, presented by Rolex, Sailors took to the low side of their boats in light air and rain. The 19-nautical-mile circumnavigation of Jamestown (Conanicut Island) was planned to be a brilliant teaser for this weekend’s two-day series off Newport, R.I., and so it was, from the perspective of hosting 105 magnificently cool boats (189 are due to race over the weekend). However, 4-5 knots of breeze pushed them along at the start before dissolving into nary a breath of wind on the backside of the island, forcing the race committee to shorten course halfway through and finish the fleet at the Jamestown Bridge in Narragansett Bay’s West Passage.
In a lineup of 14 class starts that ranged from bold to beautiful, three Marstrom 32s got things rolling, taking off upwind in their always-relatively-faster way before the next class of 14 grand-prix IRC boats formed a stunning vision at the starting line: all of them jockeying for position while getting pushed quickly toward it by a strong current. George David’s R/P 90 Rambler and Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50 Privateer were among those with clean getaways, while others got caught in a fray to windward, including John Brim’s RP55 Rima2 and Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s IRC52 Interlodge, which were forced to re-start after crossing the line prematurely.
The next four successively smaller IRC classes started with 12, 10, 10 and 15 boats, respectively, making it clear that this handicap rating rule is still ripe on the vine. ORR and PHRF classes followed suit behind the sleek 12 Metres and stunning Classics…and then the real fun began.
Steve and Heidi Benjamin's spookie and Paul Jeka's after midnight in IRC 2 for the Around-the-Island Race - © Rolex-Daniel Forster
'It was a very changeable and unsettling race with lots of rain squalls and light, shifty conditions,' said Steve Benjamin, who with his wife Heidi calling tactics and Chuck Swanson navigating, steered the Carkeek 40 Spookie to victory in IRC Class two. 'We were the third start, but there was a general recall, which we were happy about, because we got stuck on the line the first time. Rambler was in the second start, and we probably started 15 minutes after them and finished only five minutes behind them.'
Challenges on the course included choosing the correct side of the passage leading out past Castle Hill and on to Beavertail Light, which Gunther Buerman’s IRC 52 Hooligan negotiated quite cleverly by staying far left while Rambler sat making no headway in a hole on the right. On the backside of the island, the choice of hugging the Jamestown shore allowed some to catch up with those who passed them earlier, but then the wind died completely, reshuffling the fleet during the last little (northerly) fill to the finish.
'I think we got really lucky with it,' said Benjamin about his team’s performance throughout the day, 'and the crew did a superb job going back and fourth between the light jib, code zero and our 1A spinnaker for light air; over the course of the race we probably did about 15 sail changes. I was nervous going into this morning because it is Friday the 13th, and I’m a little bit superstitious, but it turned out to be a good thing.'
IRC 5’s class winner was defending champion Rives Potts with his team aboard the custom 48-footer Carina. He was awarded a Rolex watch for being the IRC boat with the fastest corrected time around the island.
'We didn’t know where we were with respect to the others in our class most of the time, but we never stopped moving the whole day,' said Potts, adding with a chuckle, 'It was light, but our boat is so big and heavy that if you get some momentum at the start it carries with us through the whole race—once we get going, we don’t slow down.'
Potts loves the Around the Island Race 'for the sightseeing' but says the next two days are where the good sailors really show their stuff. 'They’re a lot smarter than me in buoy races; I’m better at distance,' said Potts, who is the overall winner of the last two Newport Bermuda Races and is participating in the Onion Patch Series that links the Annual Regatta to the 2014 edition of that Race, which starts next Friday.
The tradition of the Annual Regatta—the oldest regatta in the country—began at the New York Yacht Club’s original clubhouse in Hoboken, N.J., in 1845, during the club’s second year of existence. Racing takes place on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, with daily awards and social activities at Harbour Court, the New York Yacht Club’s on-the-water clubhouse in Newport, R.I. Engraved overall trophies in each class are given at the Rolex Awards Party on Sunday night. Rolex also awards a timepiece to the overall winner (determined by the organizers) of Saturday’s and Sunday’s combined series of races, which officially constitutes the 160th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex. This special prize, as well as the Great Corinthian Trophy for yacht club teams of three or more boats posting the best class finishes, will be awarded at the Annual Awards Dinner at the New York Yacht Club’s main clubhouse in New York City.
For more information, contact NYYC Racing Director Brad Dellenbaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (401) 845-9633 or visit the website
. Top results: Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points Class Seven - CRF SoT (CRF - Three Boats):
1. Lark, Eggemoggin 47, Tom Morris, Brooklin, Maine, USA – 1 (1)
2. Tempus Fugit, Tempus 90, James Troup, Lymington, Hants, UK – 2 (2)
3. Wild Horses, W-Class W.76 76'7, Donald Tofias, Newport, R.I., USA – 3 (3) Class Eight - CRF NS (CRF - Five Boats):
1. Spartan, NY50 72, Charlie Ryan, Providence, R.I., USA 1 (1)
2. Sonny, Custom 53, Joseph Dockery, Newport, R.I., USA 2 (2)
3. BLACK WATCH, S&S Custom Yawl 68, Joseph Robillard, Short Hills, N.J., USA 3 (3) Class Nine - CRF spinnaker (CRF - Five Boats):
1. Silent Maid, Barnegat Bay Catboat 33, Peter Kellogg , Short Hills, N.J., USA – 1 (1)
2. Madcap, 6 Metre 32, Tom Fair, North Kingstown, R.I., USA 2 (2)
3. Winnie of Bourne, Concordia 39 39'10', J Arvid Klein, New York, N.Y., USA 3 (3) Class One - IRC One (IRC - 14 Boats):
1. Constellation, TP 52 52, Joshua Forgacs, Annapolis, Md., USA – 1 (1)
2. Stark Raving Mad VII, Swan 601 60, James Madden, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., USA 2 (2)
3. Sled, TP 52 52, Takashi Okura, Alpine, N.J., USA 3 (3) Class Two - IRC Two (IRC - 12 Boats):
1. Spookie, Carkeek HP 40, Steve and Heidi Benjamin, Norwalk, Conn., USA 1 (1)
2. After Midnight, CTM41 41, Paul Jeka, Atlantic Highlands, N.J., USA 2 (2)
3. Nasty Medicine, Corby 41 41.5, Stephen Sherwin, Hamilton, BER 3 (3) Class Four - IRC Four (IRC - Eight Boats):
1. DownTime, Summit 40 39'10, Ed Freitag / Molly Haley, Annapolis, Md., USA 1 (1)
2. Pendragon, X-41 41, Quentin Thomas, Portsmouth, RI, USA 2 (2)
3. White Witch, King 40 40, Larry Landry, Newport, RI, USA 3 (3) Class Five - IRC Five (IRC - 15 Boats):
1. Carina, Custom 48 48', Rives Potts, Westbrook, Conn., USA 1 (1)
2. Rush, J 109 35, Bill Sweetser, Annapolis, Md., USA 2 (2)
3. Mischief, Lyman-Morse 40 40, David Schwartz, Smithfield, R.I., USA 3 (3) Class Three - Swan 42 (One Design - 10 Boats):
1. Quintessence, Swan 42 42.5, Roger Widmann, Larchmont, N.Y., USA 1 (1)
2. Barleycorn, Swan 42 42.5, Brendan Brownyard, Bay Shore, N.Y., USA 2 (2)
3. Daring, Swan 42 42.5, John Hele, Newport, R.I., USA -3 (3) Class Six - 12 Metre (One Design - Six Boats):
1. Victory 83, 12 Metre, Dennis Williams, Hobe Sound, Fla., USA 1 (1)
2. New Zealand, 12 Metre, Lexi Gahagan / Max Buerman, Newport, R.I., USA 2 (2)
3. Laura, 12 Metre, Kip Curren, Warwick, R.I., USA 3 (3) Class Zero - Marstrom 32 (One Design - Three Boats):
1. Bronco, Marstrom 32, Michael Dominguez, Barrington, R.I., USA 1 (1)
2. Ultimate Pressure, Marstrom 32, Peter Denton, USA 2 (2)
3. Liftoff, Marstrom 32, Malcolm Gefter, Newport, R.I., USA 3 (3) Class 10 - ORR (ORR - Six Boats):
1. Terrapin, Andrews 68, Jon Litt, Greenwich, Conn., USA 1 (1)
2. Dorade, S&S 52, Matt Brooks, Fremont, Calif., USA 2 (2)
3. ORBIT, NYYC Swan 42 42, Rick Dominique, Kings Point, N.Y., USA 3 (3) Class 11 - PHRF One (PHRF - Seven Boats):
1. Wild Child, J111, Chris Jones, Hamble, Southampton, UK 1 (1)
2. Blockade Runner, Farr 30, Bruce Bingman / Taran Teague, Annapolis, Md., USA 2 (2)
3. Windwalker, Hood 60, Daniel Levangie, Boston, Mass., USA 3 (3) Class 12 - PHRF Two (PHRF - Seven Boats):
1. Samba, Quest 30, Tristan Mouligne, Boston, Mass., USA 1 (1)
2. Gordon E, S&S 30, Glenn Walters, Newport, R.I., USA 2 (2)
3. Spirit, J 92S, EC Helme, Newport, R.I., USA 3 (3) Class 13 - PHRF NS (PHRF - Four Boats):
1. Jazz Fish, Freedom 35, Paul Koch, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif., USA 1 (1)
2. Sei Amici, Moody 41ac, Alan Baines, Newport, R.I., USA – 5/DNF (5)
3. Kestrel, Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Angus Davis, Bristol, R.I., USA - 5/RAF (5)