Please select your home edition
Edition
Sealegs - On the water 728x90-1

Slow and steady wins the day in the 63rd running of New York YC Queen's Cup

by Stuart Streuli, New York Yacht Club 22 Jul 23:14 PDT 22 July 2018
Queen's Cup 2018 © Dan Nerney

For two hours, New York Yacht Club Vice Commodore Bill Ketcham (Greenwich, Conn.) and his team watched as the bulk of the fleet participating in the 63rd edition of the Queen's Cup sailed away from them. It was inevitable, Ketcham's J/44 Maxine was one of the slowest boats, according to rating, in a 14-boat grouping than ranged in size from 41 to 74 feet. Still it's not easy seeing so many competitor's transoms gradually disappear into the horizon.

"You know it's going to happen," says Ketcham, who has sails Maxine with an all-amateur crew that includes his son, Saunders, and daughter, Liza. "But you've no feel for how fast it happens. It's pretty discouraging."

But the team shelved any disappointment, focused on the task at hand, and when all the boats had crossed the line and the IRC handicaps were applied, Maxine was at the top of the standings, a minute and two seconds ahead of Tony Langley's TP52 Gladiator and 1:23 ahead of Columbia, the 60-year-old 12 Metre skippered by Anthony Chiurco and Kevin Hegarty.

The Queen's Cup trophy was given to the New York Yacht Club by Queen Elizabeth II and officially presented to the Club by the British Ambassador in November 1953. It's a perpetual trophy that is raced for annually under the same conditions as the King's Cup that preceded it and was retired after the passing of King George VI in 1952. Each skipper must be a World Sailing Group 1 (amateur) sailor. The trophy is always decided by a single race, often longer than most modern buoy races, and utilizes a unique 2-minute starting window.

Ketcham and his team opted to wait until the end of the starting window, crossing the line 1:49 after the gun sounded. With many of the faster boats well up the course this helped to limit the amount of time they spent sailing in disturbed air, though it's still never easy racing against longer, faster yachts.

"There's no way to avoid getting wailed on during that first leg," he says. "Even if you start right at the gun, the big boats are going to be on [your air] right away. If you wait, everybody is already on you, so there's no way to get around suffering on that first weather leg. So you just suffer through it, which is what we did."

While the breeze wasn't particularly strong, Ketcham went with one of his smaller headsails.

"We were smart to sail with a [No. 3 jib] even through the breeze was bouncing from 13 to 18 knots," he says "In flat water with a three, the boat is really quick. You point a little higher and you can tack easily. It's like tacking a dinghy."

As one of the few boats flying a symmetric spinnaker off a pole—the bulk of the fleet was flying asymmetric spinnakers off a bow sprit—Ketcham also thinks he had an advantage on the one downwind leg, when he can sail very close to the rhumb line.

A final key decision came during the long upwind leg to the finish off Fort Adams. Ketcham's team was one of the few that opted to go to the east side of Gould Island.

"There was a huge lefty up there with a ton of pressure," he said. "We missed it on the first weather leg so we said we're not missing it this time. That really helped."

While happy with their performance, the team on Maxine had no idea how they'd done until a fellow competitor called to congratulate them.

"It was a complete surprise," Ketcham says. "We were just hoping we beat some boats. We just didn't know because the boats got so spread out and we were pretty far back. A huge surprise. There was a lot of elation on the boat when we heard that. We just couldn't believe it."

Related Articles

Golden Spinnaker Benefit Dinner
Event at NYYC Harbour Court raises more than $300,000 for US Sailing Team The Sailing Foundation of New York (SFNY) raised more than $300,000 for the US Sailing Team at the 2018 Golden Spinnaker Benefit Dinner, held on Friday, September 28 at the iconic New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, Rhode Island. Posted on 13 Oct
Royal Thames YC wins inaugural Global Team Race
A fleet of determined teams race at New York YC With steady sailing across a full range of conditions and against a fleet of determined opponents, the Royal Thames Yacht Club (London, U.K.) claimed the championship at the inaugural Global Team Race Regatta. Posted on 8 Oct
Inaugural IC37 Regatta held at New York YC
A glimpse of the great one-design racing to come After a summer of commissioning work, sea trials and the occasional weeknight PHRF race, the New York Yacht Club's first three IC37s lined up for two days of one-design racing on Narragansett Bay on the first weekend of autumn. Posted on 28 Sep
The Resolute Cup at New York Yacht Club overall
America's sailing capital and San Diego YC save the best for last America's sailing capital saved the best for last, and so did San Diego Yacht Club, which won the 2018 Resolute Cup with error-free sailing when it counted most. Posted on 16 Sep
The Resolute Cup at New York Yacht Club day 3
Patience and persistence prove key on Day 3 of Resolute Cup The sun had disappeared behind the Rhode Island mainland before the competitors in the 2018 Resolute Cup could finally pack away their spinnakers and head for the dock. Posted on 15 Sep
The Resolute Cup at New York Yacht Club day 2
West Coast Clubs surge to the Fore at Resolute Cup It hasn't been sunny and warm like San Diego, or breezy like San Francisco, but clubs from those two West Coast sailing meccas shined through some unfamiliar, and dreary, weather on the first two days of the 2018 Resolute Cup Posted on 14 Sep
The Resolute Cup at New York Yacht Club day 1
Heavy rain, shifting winds highlight challenges Good sailors start a regatta fast. The best sailors, however, are the ones that finish a regatta sailing faster than they began it. This is particularly true of the Resolute Cup, where no one begins the regatta perfectly comfortable Posted on 13 Sep
The Resolute Cup at New York YC preview
Corinthian competition keeps them coming back Whether it's a recurring regatta, restaurant or retail store, there's no compliment like a repeat customer. Since it was first run in 2010, the Resolute Cup has struck a chord with Corinthian sailors around the United States. Posted on 11 Sep
Former college stars to clash at Resolute Cup
Generations of college sailing stars to clash as racing starts Monday Collegiate champions from five different decades, including five winners of college sailing's top individual prize, are among the 110 sailors that will compete in the fifth edition of the Resolute Cup. Posted on 7 Sep
Design Discussion celebrating Sparkman & Stephens
Honoring the yacht designs at the New York Yacht Club The 2018-2019 Designer Series, honoring the yacht designs of Sparkman & Stephens, kicked off with a lively Design Discussion and Cocktail Reception on June 28, 2018. Posted on 3 Sep
Zhik 2018 Hyeres 728x90 BOTTOMMelges 14 2018 FooterP&B Autumn Sale 2018 - Footer