Please select your home edition
Edition
Henri-Lloyd 2021 M-PRO PURE BLACK - LEADERBOARD

Buckaroo, Gamecock hoping success in other classes will translate to the Melges IC37 at Race Week

by New York Yacht Club 22 Sep 2020 01:15 PDT September 23-26, 2020
Race Week at Newport © Paul Todd / Outside Images

The Melges IC37 class was designed to make it as easy as possible for new skippers and crew to get up to speed and compete on a high level. Of course, there's no way to completely neutralize the advantage that can be earned with time in the boat. But the fixed standing rigging, one-design sail package and extensive training and tuning tools available from North Sails and the class association have gone along way toward flattening the learning curve.

This is welcome news for Peter McClennen's Gamecock team (above, sailing in the 2019 Melges IC37 National Championship) and Jim Buckingham and Skip Beck's Buckaroo crew, two relatively new IC37 teams that will be racing in the dozen-strong Melges IC37 fleet at the New York Yacht Club's Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex, which starts Wednesday on Rhode Island Sound.

The New York Yacht Club's Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex was first run in 1998, and takes place this year from September 23 to 26 out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, in Newport. R.I. The biennial regatta, traditionally run at the apex of the summer sailing season, has established itself as one of the premier summer race weeks in the Northeast thanks to its attractive combination of great racing conditions off Newport and the superlative shore-side hospitality at the Club's waterfront Clubhouse overlooking Newport Harbor. Partners for the 2020 edition of Race Week at Newport include presenting sponsor Rolex and regatta sponsors Hammetts Hotel and Helly Hansen.

"We were a single-event charterer last summer, then competed in the wonderful Winter Series in Fort Lauderdale," says Peter McClennen (Newport, R.I.), who will sail one of four privately owned boats among the 12 entries. The other eight are chartered through the New York Yacht Club's innovative concierge charter program. "These boats are fantastic to sail and race. This year, the challenge will be crew availability and training. With such a short season, all of us are scrambling to get up to speed."

The Gamecock moniker is a familiar one around Newport. McClennen has been an active, and successful, participant in region's vibrant classic boat racing scene with his 95-year-old R Class sailboat of the same name (at left). This past summer was slated to be a busy one for McClennen and his team until the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled much of the regatta schedule and forced him to get creative.

"When the pandemic unfolded, we were in the middle of an ambitious winter/spring schedule with the IC37, Melges 20, C&C30 and Etchells," says McClennen. "When it all understandably had to be shut down, I started to investigate what would be an appropriate boat for this summer's sailing. This lead us to the Class 40, First Light, which was available for charter. This was really fun and challenging.

"Concurrently, I launched the R boat. Then as the protocols for safe sailing became more clear, and we could establish a strong practice, we launched the new IC37 and began competing in the local PHRF events."

What does all that mean for his team's chances in Race Week and the Melges IC37 National Championship the following weekend?

"I think we will keep our expectations well in check," he says, "and focus on having a good time and do our best to sail well."

Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.), who will be sailing his first Melges IC37 event at Race Week, is equally as relaxed when it comes to his outlook for the regatta.

"The focus, first and foremost, is to have some fun," he says. "Beyond that, crew coordination around the course and figuring out what makes the boat go through a range of conditions will be the focus. Fortunately, between all the printed materials put out by both North and the class, plus the webinars, there are a lot of resources to get a head start before actually hitting the water."

But don't sleep on this team. Buckingham, a former college All-American, has had success in two of the most competitive keelboat classes in sailing, the Etchells and, more recently, the Star. He's also a five-time national champion in the Lehman 12 class. He's no stranger to crowded starting lines and mark roundings. Boat partner Skip Beck also has extensive sailing experience, including competing in the defender trials for the 1980 America's Cup.

"It's been a little bit of a herding-cats exercise putting the crew together with all the schedule changes due to the pandemic, but everyone is keen to get on the water," says Buckingham. "For a number of us on the boat, this will be our first time on an IC37, so we expect a steep learning curve early on. But with each practice day or race day, hopefully, our familiarity with what makes the boat go improves along with coordinated crew work."

Racing in Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex will take place on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, starting on Wednesday, September 23, and running through Saturday, September 26.

Related Articles

America's Cup: Defender rebuffs NYYC overtures
The America's Cup Defenders and Challenger of Record have rebuffed NYYC's Challenge Unsurprisingly, the America's Cup Defenders, along with the Challenger of Record, have rebuffed the surprise Challenge lodged by the New York Yacht Club, on May 6, and announced earlier today. Posted on 9 May
America's Cup: New York YC submits Challenge
Match to take place in New Zealand during early 2024, utilizing the AC75 class New York Yacht Club has submitted a Challenge and Evolutionary Draft Protocol for 37th America's Cup, which would see the Cup Match take place in New Zealand during early 2024, utilizing the AC75 class Posted on 9 May
Tiedemann Regatta to start CYOA Challenge Series
The CYOA Challenge Series includes a number of regattas throughout the northeast For the first time in its history, this biennial regatta—which had traditionally been held in July—will be the first event in the 2021 Classic Yacht Owners Association's Challenge Series. Posted on 25 Apr
NYYC Commodore congratulates ETNZ
New York Yacht Club Commodore Christopher J. Culver congratulates Emirates Team New Zealand On behalf of the membership of the New York Yacht Club, I want to congratulate the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand for winning the 36th America's Cup. Posted on 20 Mar
American Magic concludes 36th AC campaign
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli earn PRADA Cup final spot Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli defeats New York Yacht Club American Magic 4-0 to earn a spot in the Prada Cup finals against INEOS Team UK. Posted on 30 Jan
American Magic in the PRADA Cup Semi-Final Day 1
PATRIOT returns to the race course but suffers two losses New York Yacht Club American Magic, the U.S. Challenger for the America's Cup, took two losses against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli of Italy on the first day of racing at the Prada Cup Semifinals. Posted on 29 Jan
PATRIOT returns to sailing
Team prepares for Prada Cup Semis New York Yacht Club American Magic, the U.S. Challenger for the 36th America's Cup, on Wednesday re-launched its racing yacht, PATRIOT, for the first time since a damaging capsize and near-sinking suffered by the team during a Prada Cup Round Robins race. Posted on 27 Jan
Repairs to PATRIOT progress
As the PRADA Cup Round Robins conclude American Magic Skipper and Executive Director Terry Hutchinson provided updates on American Magic at tonight's press conference, which marked the conclusion of the Round Robins phase of the Prada Cup, the Challenger Selection Series. Posted on 23 Jan
Prada Cup: Capsize triggers changes to Cup
Regatta Director Iain Murray has made several changes to the conduct of the Prada and America's Cups Regatta Director Iain Murray has made several changes to the conduct of the Prada and America's Cups, following a review with all involved parties including the competitors. Posted on 21 Jan
Race Week, Ep.2 - The fight to save Patriot
American Magic sailors and support crew fought a desperate battle to save the yacht On her 44th day of sailing, and her third day of racing in the Prada Cup, Patriot sustained major mid-race damage to the port side of the hull and was in real danger of slipping beneath the waves. Posted on 18 Jan
Reverso Air 2021 FOOTERSelden 2020 - FOOTERHighfield Boats - SW - FOOTER