Please select your home edition
Edition
Rooster GETSEASMART 728x90

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 2018 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

Sean joins American Magic shore crew
Second Oakcliff grad called up to the big leagues Sean O'Halloran, a graduate and staff member of Oakcliff Sailing, has been selected to join New York Yacht Club's American Magic, Challenger for the 36th America's Cup, as a member of the shore crew. Posted on 15 Feb
Sail Newport partner with America's Cup Challenger
Boost community sailing programs in Rhode Island New York Yacht Club American Magic, a U.S. Challenger for the 36th America's Cup, today announced Sail Newport, Rhode Island's Public Sailing Center, as a Sailing Community Partner. Posted on 14 Feb
AWS named official supplier of American Magic
AWS named official supplier of American Magic Advanced Wing Systems (AWS) and New York Yacht Club American Magic, U.S. Challenger for the 36th America's Cup, today announced that AWS, a leader in sail design and engineering, has been named as an Official Supplier of the team. Posted on 10 Jan
US Challenger announces new major partner
American Magic have announced Parker Hannifin in the vital role of Official Control Systems Partner. New York Yacht Club's team American Magic, Challenger for the 36th America's Cup, have announced Parker Hannifin, the global leader in motion control technologies, as its Official Control Systems Partner. Posted on 9 Jan
New York YC's 2019 Sailing Schedule
With a regatta that can trace its roots back to before Lincoln The New York Yacht Club's 2019 sailing season kicks off with a regatta that can trace its roots back to before Lincoln was president and ends with a one that will take place for the first time. Posted on 19 Dec 2018
2018 Resolute Cup documentary
America's sailing capital saved the best for last, and so did San Diego With three strong results in the double-points medal round, the team representing the SDYC, skipper Tyler Sinks with crew Nick Martin, Nick Kaschack and Max Hutchinson, moved up the scoreboard from fourth. Posted on 16 Nov 2018
Mele's offshore evolution at Transatlantic Race
Interview with Joe Mele, owner of Triple Lindy For Joe Mele, a 55-year-old retired doctor of internal medicine in New York City and fantastical stunt diver, ocean racing is about more than the competition. Posted on 15 Nov 2018
American Magic Test Boat Launched
New York Yacht Club's challenger launches their test boat Photos show five crew on board, so it is probably close to the maximum 12 meters of length - 39 feet - permitted by the Protocol. Remember that INEOS Team UK has a test boat built from a much smaller Quant 28. Posted on 2 Nov 2018
Offshore Worlds return to North America
New York Yacht Club to host 2020 ORC/IRC World Championship The Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) working in cooperation with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and Union National Course au Large (UNCL), founding partners of the IRC rating system, are pleased to announce the approval of the New York Yacht Club Posted on 1 Nov 2018
Transatlantic Race 2019 to set sail from Newport
Stamp your mark in sailing history Organized between the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club, the origins of the Transatlantic Race 2019 date back more than a century and a half. Posted on 26 Oct 2018
Naiad 660x82px_RescueSCRW2019 FooterWindBot-COACH-660x82