After several days of late summer breeze and sunshine, thick fog rolled into Narragansett Bay, greeting competitors of the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex and forcing a short postponement to today’s racing.
Twenty-two yacht club teams from 16 countries are here in Newport to contest the second edition of this biennial event.
After a delay of just under an hour, the fleet were sent up Narragansett Bay, north of the Newport Bridge where the flat water and 10-knot south-southwesterly built to a perfect 12-15 knots by the afternoon.
Yesterday after six races were completed, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club team, skippered by Olympic silver medalist Terry McLaughlin, had a solid lock on the top of the leader board with a 13-point advantage over the New York Yacht Club team.
But with a fleet this deep in talent, one bad race and a double-digit advantage can be whittled down. As McLaughlin presciently said yesterday, 'That can disappear in a real hurry.' Meanwhile the NYYC team, led by Ken Colburn with Phil Lotz, the 2009 Invitational Cup winner, as tactician kept their focus with fourth and second place finishes today and closed the gap with Canada to five points.
While Lotz’ recap of their races sounded pretty matter-of-fact, the American team worked hard to get a good start on the right side and found a lane there that enabled them to tack when they wanted. Lotz said, 'We were lucky enough that the right paid off and we kept our nose clean and got around the course. We were fortunate enough to get to the right side early.' But with three more races planned, he was quick to add, 'I think with a shifty nor’west tomorrow, it’s anybody’s game. Bad races are just as possible as good races. If it’s more breeze and shifty, it’s going to be a boat handling issue, and keeping your head out of the boat and seeing where the shifts are, and making sure you’re going in the right direction.'
Newport Harbor Yacht Club edged past Annapolis Yacht Club today to stand in third place overall.
APPARITION, New York Yacht Club (USA), Ken Colburn (helm), Philip Lotz (tactician) - New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup - © Rolex- Kurt?nid=88547
DARING, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Terry McLaughlin (helm), John Hele (tactician) - New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup - © Rolex- Kurt?nid=88547
The group of teams with first place finishes grew today with eight unique winners over the same number of races. Two boats that had barely cracked a top ten finish prevailed today: the German team from Norddeutscher Regatta Verein and Clube Naval de Cascais from Portugal.
For Patrick de Barros’ Portuguese team, it all came together on the last race where they got off the start line well-positioned, rounded the weather mark in third, and then went to the left side of the course where they got in front and held their lead. Although NYYC team threatened, CN de Cascais covered them very closely at the finish and crossed ahead. Clearly buoyed by their performance de Barros said, 'We have the speed, now we start to know how the boat functions. It’s a very challenging course, a good course, but challenging. It’s been really fantastic, we’ve enjoyed every minute.'
The Royal Yacht Squadron enjoyed a good bump up the standings going from 11th to seventh. Helmsman Glyn Williams explained, 'I was a little disappointed after yesterday’s sailing, as I didn’t feel we sailed to the potential. The team had done a lot of sailing together and we were just making unforced errors early in the week. So our first race today, we got cleanly off the line. At the top mark, we did a gybe set, which was incredibly clean and put us in the hunt. I told the team this morning that yesterday Annapolis moved from tenth to third, so there’re options to go up in a series like this. The crew did a great job today!'
Oliver Stanley, RYS team captain, spoke of the competition, 'I think the standard of sailing is as high as you get in any amateur regatta, anywhere in the world. It’s a great privilege to be here -- make one mistake and you lose six places.'
Stanley was with the team at the 2009 Invitational Cup event, when the RYS finished in 16th place overall. He recalled, 'Given our finish, we weren’t invited back on merit. We were invited on ancestry, history and tradition. It’s very important that we’re invited back on merit this time. We really want to be automatically invited, to have a top five finish. We’d be over the moon with that.'
Racing continues tomorrow Friday through Saturday 16 - 17 September. Tomorrow’s first warning signal is scheduled for 11:00 am.
ORBIT, Clube Naval de Cascais (Portugal), Patrick Monteiro de Barros (helm), Henrique Anjos (tactician) - New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup - © Rolex- Kurt?nid=88547
Fleet - 10, THE CAT CAME BACK, Royal Yacht Squadron (UK), Glynn Williams (helm), Ross Walker (tactician) - New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup - © Rolex- Kurt?nid=88547
UXORIOUS III, Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (Germany), Johannes Polgar (helm), Florian Spalteholz (tactician) - New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup - © Rolex- Kurt?nid=88547
New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup website
Full results: here