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NYYC Invitational Cup – Perseverance of longtime participants rewarded

by New York Yacht Club on 14 Sep 2017
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (bow No. 15) – Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup Rolex/Daniel Forster
After four straight race finishes in the top three, Southern Yacht Club and Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron showed the first signs of mortality in race five of the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, each crossing the finish line squarely in the middle of the fleet.

Through five races, the overall results had the two clubs—both first-time competitors in the regatta—tied on points, and well clear of third place. But in a no-throwout series, points can accumulate in a hurry and the difference between top-three and bottom-three in this ultra-competitive fleet can come down to one cross, one decision, one lapse in concentration.

Race six bore this out as Guido Belgiorno-Nettis and the Royal Sydney team struggled to their worst result of the regatta, a 12th place. For Southern, however, race five proved a temporary bobble. Marcus Eagan and his team finished second in the final race of day two and now stand 10 points clear of Royal Sydney in second and 16 points clear of third, a substantial margin at the midway point of this 12-race series.

While Southern Yacht Club consistency allows them to retain the leader's yellow spinnaker for another day, let's shine the spotlight on a pair of clubs that had their best days ever at a Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup regatta, three-time participant Yacht Club Argentino and five-time competitor Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Both teams finished the day with 13 points from three races, just one back from Southern Yacht Club, which was the low-scoring team of the day with 12.

'We had better speed that the last two times we’d been here, so we could hold our lanes and we could sail conservatively, we didn’t have to talk any risk,' said helmsman Mark Thornburrow. 'Two years ago we learned a lot at the end of the regatta, made some notes, came here and started off with good speed.'

Boat speed and risk management are the pillars of a good Invitational Cup result. Every boat is well sailed and big mistakes can translate into a lot of points that must often be ground back boat by boat. After middle-of-the-pack finishes in the four previous editions, the RHKYC finds itself in third place with half of the 2017 regatta in the books. Lessons learned, apparently.

For Yacht Club Argentino, the foundation for today's performance, which included a third, an eighth and a first, was actually laid on day one, when the team struggled to a 10-14-7.

'The good thing is that yesterday, we may have had a bad day, but the spirit was still very high, and keep us pushing,' said tactician Cristian Frers, who is the cousin of Germán 'Mani' Frers Jr., who designed the Swan 42. 'We are here to have fun. We are enjoying it a lot, the hospitality is great. We have to ease down a bit, we don’t want to get too excited, but we are having a really great time.'

Frers said the team is an interesting mix of cagey veterans and enthusiastic younger members of the YCA, and they first started sailing together a month ago.

'We did a couple of trainings in Buenos Aires and it was a really good feeling that we have in that group,' he said. 'It's very good. The young people are great, and we are very good friends. From the very beginning, from the very first time we met, they are great guys.'

While Southern Yacht Club has punched out to a solid lead and Royal Sydney Yacht Club is in a solid second, the middle of the pack is still quite compact. The host New York Yacht Club currently sits 11th, but is just 13 points out of fifth. The next six races could bring quite a bit of change to the overall results table. No position is secure, from first to 14th.

The 2017 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup takes place September 9 to 16 at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, in Newport, R.I. Amateur sailors representing 14 yacht clubs from around the globe have converged on Newport to race in the ultimate one-design, big-boat competition. The boats and sails are provided and the rig tune is standardized across the fleet.

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