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New York Yacht Club Race Week preview

'Bill Sweetser’s RUSH, a J-109, competes in IRC 5 at NYYC Race Week presented by Rolex'    © Rolex/Daniel Forster

The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) Race Week has become a favorite regatta on Newport, R.I.’s busy summer racing schedule, due to its tough competition on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, the host venue of NYYC’s Harbour Court clubhouse, and a unique format, which allows competitors to choose whether they participate for some or all of seven full racing days.

The eighth biennial edition of Race Week is scheduled for July 14-22 and kicks off the first weekend (July 14-15) with racing for Classics, six metres, Herreshoff S-Boats and 12 Metres and wraps up later in the week (Thursday, July 19-Sunday, July 22) with racing for Handicap and One-Design fleets.

In between the two sessions (Wednesday, July 18), a separately scored 19-mile around the (Conanicut) Island Race allows competitors to enjoy a different perspective on the natural beauty of the area, which includes such recognizable landmarks as Castle Hill, Beavertail, Plum Beach, Dutch Island and Rose Island Lighthouses, the Jamestown Bridge and Newport’s Pell Bridge. Post-race activities at NYYC include daily awards, food and music with a dinner on each Saturday night, and a huge mid-week party on Wednesday evening.

'It’s a very special occasion with a nice flavor about it,' said Austen Fragomen (New York, N.Y), who will sail his new IRC 52 Interlodge in the Around the Island Race as well as Race Week’s second half. (He also will compete in June in the NYYC’s 158th Annual Regatta, which is also presented by Rolex.) 'The event is well run, and the fact that there is the Around the Island Race makes it particularly interesting, because it adds another dimension to strategies, and we’re able to use reaching jibs and other sails you wouldn’t normally use for around-the-buoys racing.'

With his boat having been launched only last December, Fragomen says other regattas leading up to Race Week have been instrumental in 'Making certain we have the proper set-up and have worked out all the kinks that new boats tend to typically have.'

SFORZANDO and RIMA2 approach the Rose Island lighthouse -  © Rolex-Daniel Forster  

He referenced up to 200 modern racing machines and sleek classics expected to compete on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound throughout the seven days of Race Week, but he was especially pleased with a large contingent of IRC 52s making their way to the East Coast, including two from Annapolis (Flying Jenny and the Naval Academy’s Invictus), one from the Great Lakes (Natalie J), one from San Francisco (Vela Veloce) and one technically from Martha’s Vineyard but known for its accomplishments the world over (Vesper).

Fragomen noted that because the 52s are so close in their IRC handicap ratings, the racing might as well be one-design, and he described another assumed competitor, Ron O’Hanley’s (Boston, Mass.) canting-keel design Cookson 50 Privateer, as 'only differing by a couple of one thousandths of a point' from Interlodge in its rating. 'It should be exciting,' said Fragomen, further declaring, 'We are beyond our shake-down phase now and ready for a big-time event.'

Patti Young’s and Paul Hamilton’s (Jamestown, R.I.) Tripp 41 Entropy is not newly built but a recent-enough acquisition for the veteran husband-and-wife sailing duo that it will present its own fresh challenges during Race Week’s second half. Young says there has been much to do to prepare their new racer/cruiser for the regatta, including inventorying dozens of sails after the boat was delivered from California only a few weeks ago.

'I’m really excited to campaign it, and the goal ultimately is to do the Newport Bermuda Race, but timing-wise that was not realistic for this year,' said Young, who has completed two Newport Bermuda Races (while her husband has done six) and is acclaimed for her skills as a navigator. 'We are trying to balance the boat between being geared for around-the-buoys racing and for offshore racing,' said Young, mentioning that a water maker and refrigeration were installed for the latter. 'You’d have thought the boat would be more cruising-oriented, but I think it’s pretty stripped out.'

Also in the second half of Race Week, Oyster Bay’s (N.Y.) Oakcliff Sailing Center, whose mission it is to raise the level of sailors and sailing in the U.S., will be campaigning a Ker 50, with its crew consisting of team sponsor Art Santry and his long-time navigator and America’s Cup sailor LG Edgecomb.

'Oakcliff's offshore program is packed this summer,' said Oakcliff’s Executive Director Dawn Riley (St. Claire Shores, Mich.), who will be sailing with the team and is a veteran of three America’s Cup campaigns and two Around the World races. 'With ‘Sapling’ and ‘Acorn’ trainees aboard, we are fielding three teams for the Block Island Race and spread across three boats for the Bermuda Race. For those two races plus the NYYC’s Annual Regatta and Race Week we will be sailing as Temptation Oakcliff.'

Race Week’s second half also will feature several one-design class championships, including the Swan 42 Nationals, the J/109 North Americans and the Beneteau First 36.7 Northeast Championship. The J/105 and Melges 32 classes will compete on Saturday and Sunday only, with a strong turnout of Melges 32s expected as those competitors prepare for the class’s national and world championships that will be held in Newport later in the summer.

Phil Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) ARETHUSA leads the NYYC Swan 42 Class -  © Rolex / Dan Nerney  

For sailors with PHRF-rated boats, Race Week is offering Navigator Races on the final Saturday and Sunday, using government marks and courses that emphasize navigational skills over around-the-buoys boathandling skills.

Race Week’s first half will be equally exciting, as it is the second leg of the 2012 NYYC Classic Series, and the 12 Metres will compete for the Newport Trophy. At the conclusion of Race Week, Rolex timepieces will be awarded for best overall performances in the IRC class, in the One-Design classes and to the winning skipper in any One-Design classes holding National or North American championships.

Entry deadline is Friday, July 6. For a full list of entries and additional information, including registration, please visit the Race Week event page on New York Yacht Club’s website or contact Brad Dellenbaugh, New York Yacht Club Sailing Office, Harbour Court, 5 Halidon Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island 02840, 401 845-9633, Email: sailingoffice@nyyc.org.


by Marby Macgowan

  

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11:33 PM Thu 24 May 2012GMT


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