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Leaderboard FD July August September 2023

New blood supercharges IC37 fleet ahead of 2024 Sailing Season

by New York Yacht Club 6 Jun 14:22 PDT
IC37 Race Week © Daniel Forster

There are few better indications of the health of a one-design fleet than the presence of new blood. Whether it serves to combat attrition, inject enthusiasm or introduce new ideas—or all three—an influx of new skippers, sailors and teams is never a bad thing for a one-design class. Using that metric, the IC37 fleet passed its preseason physical exam with flying colors. North America's most competitive one-design big-boat fleet is roaring into the Summer 2024 racing schedule, with 20-plus entries expected for all major regattas, including a 24-boat fleet for the 170th edition of the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta, June 14 to 16, in Newport, R.I.

"I sailed in the IC37 class three or four years ago as a crew and really enjoyed it," says Vicky Wiseman, who will skipper the Brizo team in 2024. "Since then, I've been trying to get a crew together. It's a group of solid sailors. The IC37 is a new adventure for us. We're really excited."

Wiseman's Brizo squad is one of at least eight rookie teams in this year's fleet. Each team has sailors who have participated in the class in the past. But a key to success in the IC37 is understanding exactly how eight to 10 sailors can best work together to get the most out of the fast and fun 37-foot boat.

"Our goals are to get better with every race and learn something about the boats," says Bill Zartler, who will hope to transfer his success in the J/105 class to the IC37 this summer. "We want to have solid one design competition and have a great time with the team on and off the water."

The New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta was first sailed on the Hudson River on July 16 and 18, 1846. A similar competition the previous year was called a Trial of Speed. With a few exceptions for world wars and other global crises, the event has been held every year since. For the majority of its existence, the Annual Regatta was raced on waters close to New York City. Since 1988, however, the event has been sailed out of the Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport, R.I., and, in 2004, it settled into the current three-day format, which includes a race around Conanicut Island on Friday, two days of buoy or navigator-course racing on Saturday and Sunday and nightly social activities on the grounds of the historic Harbour Court mansion. The 170th Annual Regatta will feature an historic fleet of more than 150 boats, including the 10-foot 52 Super Series fleet, competing in North America for the first time since 2017. The Annual Regatta is sponsored by Helly Hansen, Safe Harbor Marinas, Peters & May and Hammetts Hotel,

The entry list for the 170th Annual Regatta can be found here.

To read more on the 52 Super Series' return to North America, click here.

This year will be the sixth year of competition in the IC37 class. Like all classes, it has experienced some up years and some down years. This past winter, the New York Yacht Club refreshed the charter program for its fleet of 20 IC37s and then, led by Class President Peter McClennen, set about recruiting new teams. The results were immediate and nearly the entire Club fleet is chartered for the four primary regattas this coming season, with another half-dozen privately-owned boats rounding out the fleet.

One of the key components of the 2024 charter program is an aggressive incentive aimed toward younger New York Yacht Club members. Two of the teams competing this season, Will Gammell's Drumfire team and Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick's crew on Young Members Only, took advantage of this opportunity.

"We wouldn't be able to do this without the club and the support of many individuals in the class who are personally seeing to it that we have access to what we need to go racing," says Grapengeter-Rudnick, at left, sailing last year on John Hele's Vigilant. "Personally, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to skipper this season and to welcome so many of my young member friends and peers to the fleet."

Gammell skippered a boat in a 2023 intra-club IC37 regatta. But this will be his first opportunity to build a program over the course of a season. His experience helping Southern Yacht Club prepare for two wins in the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup and sailing regularly on the Swan 42 Impetuous, skippered by former NYYC Commodore Paul Zabetakis, has shown him what a winning program looks like. He also knows that, in a class like the IC37, success must be earned.

"It's all about setting the goals from the very beginning and breaking them into manageable chunks," says Gammell. "Our stated goal for the end of the season is to be finishing in the bottom of the top third of the fleet at September's North American championship. If we can finish that regatta in seventh or eighth, I would call that a very successful season. That would mean we cracked into the cream of the crop."

Fortunately for Gammell, his fellow first-time IC37 skippers and the many crew members that will be learning this performance keelboat on the fly this season, there is a lot of support available within the class. McClennen, who runs the incredibly active Gamecock program, has been running get-to-know-the-boat sessions on evenings and weekends this spring. A training weekend is on tap for this coming Saturday and Sunday, and America's Cup veteran and one-design world champion Moose McClintock (at right, in powerboat) returns as the class coach. McClintock will provide invaluable expertise and insight to all IC37 sailors throughout the season.

"Step 1 was building interest in the IC37 class, particularly among New York Yacht Club members with access to the Club's charter-boat fleet," says McClennen. "Now we have to support these new teams as they climb the learning curve while also ensuring that everyone who sails in the class, from the six-year veteran to a drop-in crew participating in a single regatta, enjoys the experience and finishes each day eager to return for more."

Racing in the 170th Annual Regatta will begin with all classes sailing the traditional race around Conanicut Island on Friday, June 14, and continue with buoy and navigator racing on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound on Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16. The 52 Super Series, returning to North America for the first time in seven years, will sail Tuesday through Thursday, June 11 to 13, on its own before joining the Annual Regatta. A capacity crowd of nearly 1,000 is anticipated for Saturday night's Annual Regatta Dinner.

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