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NYYC Invitational Cup - Crossing time zones to make the starting line

by Jan Harley on 1 Jun 2013
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (seen here during the 2011 Invitational Cup) will return with an entirely new team for the 2013 regatta. © Rolex/ Kurt Arrigo
A number of the twenty yacht club teams that will take part in the 2013 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup will cross numerous time zones to get to the starting line, but four – YC Argentino (Buenos Aires, ARG), the CYCA (Sydney, AUS), Royal Freshwater Bay YC (Perth, AUS) and Royal Prince Alfred YC (Newport, AUS) – also will, more notably, cross the equator in order to participate in the third edition of this Corinthian competition. The Australian teams will travel more than 11,000 miles, and the Argentinians roughly half that distance, in order to reach NYYC’s Harbour Court clubhouse where the biennial competition will take place on Swan 42s from September 7-14, 2013.

Needing to quickly get into competition mode after the significant distance traveled, the teams must also adjust to a seasonal change as they will have come from the end of their winter to arrive in Newport just as summer is waning in the Northern Hemisphere. Another possible factor that may affect the ability of the teams to excel while sailing on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay is the Coriolis effect – the deflection of wind and water to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere – as the frontal passages and tidal currents may not behave quite the same as at home. In addition, each team has a perception of what they will encounter in Newport – light wind versus heavy wind – that is relative to the prevailing conditions in which they are accustomed to sailing.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia competed in the 2011 Invitational Cup; however, their 2013 team will not be able to draw on any collected local knowledge as CYCA will have an entirely new crew racing in Newport this year. Since December they have been training on The Goat, a Sydney 38, racing in the State and National Championships as well as the 12-week CYCA Winter Series that will conclude in mid-June. Several members of the team regularly sail together, and the training program will undoubtedly get a boost from the input of high profile sailors Bobby Wilmot and Malcolm Page. CYCA Team Manager Bruce Foye acknowledged that while it is 'a drawback' that the team does not have access to a Swan 42 and will not compete in Newport prior to the Invitational Cup, 'our Aussie mates tell us we should adapt quite well!'

From its home in Rushcutters Bay, CYCA has become well known internationally as the organizer of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race that was first held in 1945. Established just a year before (1944), the relatively young club’s strong roots in ocean racing have earned CYCA a well-deserved international reputation for expertise in safety at sea. The 1967 win of the Admiral’s Cup is a highlight of the success the club has had on the water.

Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, the latest club to confirm its participation in the Invitational Cup, is one of the nine yacht club teams that will compete in the regatta for the first time. And while they will not train in Newport prior to September, like the CYCA team, they too will utilize a Sydney 38 in local competition once an independent selection committee determines the members of their crew. Originally anticipating that they would make their first attempt to win the Invitational Cup in 2015, the RPAYC was able to fast track their entry through the efforts of members Mark Griffiths and Bruce Ferguson who will co-skipper the Invitational Cup team.

'We are most looking forward to the famed New York Yacht Club hospitality,' said Ferguson who knows that on the water the RPAYC team will see 'good, high-quality amateur racing.'

Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club is another first-time contender for the Invitational Cup. The members of their crew were chosen for their big-boat experience on the Grand Prix level and most of them have raced a Farr 40 together for the past two years. Their training will include racing in the Western Australian IRC Championships as well as Phuket Race Week.

'Probably the biggest difference we expect is light winds in Newport,' said Peter Ahern, immediate past Commodore. 'In Perth we race in strong breezes like the Fremantle Doctor that was famous for the excellent racing conditions it provided for the 1987 America’s Cup.' Established in 1896, RFBYC is located on the banks of the Swan River where Perth’s mild winter season allows for year-round sailing.

The Invitational Cup is organized as a competition for amateurs, so it is not surprising that the team representing Yacht Club Argentino will also be unable to visit Newport for training. 'Unfortunately, Argentina is too far from Newport and our crew, all of them amateurs, are focused on their own professions and duties,' said skipper Paulo Cosentino who explained that seven of the 10 crew members raced in the 2011 Invitational Cup. The team is, however, fortunate to be able to draw on advice from an expert: YCA member German Frers is the designer of the Swan 42 and has shared information that will accelerate the team’s learning curve.

Cosentino is anticipating strong current and heavy wind in Newport. 'We sail in a very shallow river with choppy conditions and light winds. We will do specific training sessions, supported by a very experienced local trainer. We will probably participate in local IMS regattas so as to sail all together. The Argentine weather conditions are ‘soft’ compared to the Newport conditions, so we don´t have any restrictions to train during the winter season.'
The biennial New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, first held in 2009, fuses five days of intense racing with a glamorous social schedule to deliver an unrivaled event for competitors from around the globe. Competitors must be non-professional (Corinthian) sailors and members of the yacht clubs they represent; they must also be nationals of their countries.

For 2013, the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex will welcome competitors from the following yachts clubs: the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (AUS), Japan Sailing Federation (JPN), Nyländska Jaktklubben (FIN),Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP), Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN), Royal Cork Yacht Club(IRL), Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (HKG), Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR), Royal Yacht Squadron(GBR), Yacht Club Argentino (ARG) and the Yacht Club Italiano (ITA) which have previously competed alongside host New York Yacht Club (USA). New to the event are the Royal Belgian Sailing Club(BEL), Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (AUS), Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (AUS), Royal Southern Yacht Club (GBR), Royal Swedish Yacht Club (SWE), as well as the three teams determined by the outcome of the 24-club U.S. Qualifying Series held at NYYC: Larchmont Yacht Club, San Francisco Yacht Club and Seattle Yacht Event website

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