Please select your home edition
Clipper Ventures

Humility a key cog in Aussie battle plan for 2017 Rolex Invitational Cup

by Stuart Streuli on 13 Aug 9-16 September 2017
The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron at the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup © Rolex / Daniel Forster

Historically, two of the best indicators of success in the biennial Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup are a strong track record in the tricky Swan 42 raceboat and prior experience racing in the regatta. The boat is a challenge to sail well—especially with the provided all-purpose sails and standardized rig tune—and the event itself is unique in the world of Corinthian sailing.

So in trying to establish a form guide for the 2017 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, which is sponsored by Rolex, Porsche, Nautor's Swan, AIG and Helly Hansen and will take place September 9 to 16 out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I., the fourth-place finish in 2015 by regatta rookie Guido Belgiorno-Nettis and his team from Australia looms large. Despite no previous experience in the Swan 42, Belgiorno-Nettis (right, at helm) and his crew were able to win three races and finish just 10 points off the lead in the most competitive edition of this biennial Corinthian classic, which was first sailed in 2009.

However, Belgiorno-Nettis, who will represent Australia's Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron this coming September, is having none of that talk. In his mind, he's still an outsider clawing for a modicum of respect from a fleet stacked with seasoned veterans.

"I think the good placing in the 2015 edition was a fluke," he says. "We had no idea how to sail a raceboat with twin wheels and a retractable bow sprit. I don't think we will be anywhere near the podium this time. Our expectations are to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the New York Yacht Club and sail well enough to honour the opportunity to represent the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron."

Fortifying this self-deprecatory stance are the facts that he hasn't sailed a Swan 42 since the 2015 edition, the timing of the regatta puts it right at the end of the antipodean winter when most Aussie sailors are shaking off the rust, and, due to Belgiorno-Nettis switching from Middle Harbour Yacht Club to Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, just two of his nine crew for this year sailed with him in in 2015.

Nonetheless, there is plenty of evidence that the RSYS team will be one to watch.

"You don't win three races, or place fourth of 17 in a 12-race series, on luck," says event chair Patricia Young. "Guido and his team may be short on specific Rolex Invitational Cup experience, but I suspect they will be plenty talented. He won the Farr 40 World Championship at a time when that was one of the toughest regattas in the world to win. He's no stranger to competitive one-design racing in larger boats."

And while he may not rate his chances highly, Belgiorno-Nettis does have a plan of action: "Our biggest challenge will be in getting the mechanics right on the boat," he says. "My memory of the Swan 42 is that they are tricky to get into the right groove. Moding the boat will be a big part of getting to the front end of the fleet."

Further motivation will come from the presence of a contingent of fans from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. Among the many things that make the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup unique the support teams receive from their friends, family and fellow members back home. Each team is truly competing for something bigger than just the sailors on board the boat.

"We have received tremendous support from the Squadron," says Belgiorno-Nettis. "Commodore Richard Chapman and his wife will be joining the cheer squad with some other friends. The Squadron have been very helpful in some of the logistics and helping with crew gear, not to mention their coverage of our campaign on the in-house newsletters. We are very honoured to be representing the squadron. Of course the pressure is on, but we are up for it!"

In other words, despite all the modest talk and reasons to think otherwise, competitors in the 2017 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup should discount the chances of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron at their own risk.

Related Articles

Yandoo XX too Strong
In the Milson Silver Goblets An abandoned final race didn't change the outcome for Jeanne-Claude Strong's Yandoo XX, the deserving winner of the 2017 Milson's Silver Goblets Etchells regatta sailed out of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron from November 13-17. Posted on 21 Nov
2018 Summer Regatta Schedule
Released by the New York Yacht Club The 20th anniversary edition of Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex headlines a busy 2018 summer schedule for the New York Yacht Club. Posted on 18 Nov
Etchells in Sydney Harbour
Racing for the Milson Silver Goblets trophy There is local club racing, and then there's the Etchells Sydney fleet fighting for the annual Milson Silver Goblets trophy on Sydney Harbour, and raising a warning flag for other states and nations on the strength of the NSW field. Posted on 15 Nov
Etchells Milson Silver Goblets preview
Racing at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron Sydney fleet captain Michael Tyquin says local Etchells crews climbing towards selection for next year's class worlds in Brisbane are all too aware that the Milson Silver Goblets regatta marks the time to really knuckle-down in the pre-worlds phase. Posted on 10 Nov
Itchenor Sailing Club on tour
Taking the East Coast of America by storm Itchenor Sailing Club has spread its sails to gain international recognition on the East Coast of America. 2017 has seen Itchenor invited to two prestigious events in the US including the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. Posted on 19 Oct
MC38 2017-18 Summer Series Act 1 overall
Ginger-fied The rolling dominance of Leslie Green's Ginger team extended to the opening act of the Summer Series for the 2017-18 season, the usual players stretching their day one lead to 10 points over three more races on Sydney Harbour. Posted on 15 Oct
Inaugural Nations Trophy in Palma overall
Spanish Conquistadors The Spanish team has secured the inaugural Nations Trophy, which ended in Palma de Mallorca today. Contested by three classes of Swan One Design yachts, the best two results of each of the eleven competing countries counted towards the national prize. Posted on 14 Oct
MC38 2017-18 Summer Series Act 1 day 1
Record fleet and a bevy of superstars in Sydney The MC38 class enjoyed a major boost for the opening act of the class' 2017-18 Summer Series drawing a record nine boats on Sydney Harbour for act one, and a bevy of superstars among the teams. Posted on 14 Oct
Inaugural Nations Trophy in Palma day 3
Germany ups the gears A delay to the scheduled race time on Day 3 of The Nations Trophy only served to build anticipation. Once unleashed the 28 boat, 11 nation fleet did not disappoint. Posted on 13 Oct
Inaugural Nations Trophy in Palma day 2
Spain moves smoothly into the lead It was another light air day at The Nations Trophy 2017, but competition was no less intense than the first day. The fleet of 28 Swan One Design yachts from 11 nations completed two more races in slightly more consistent pressure than Wednesday. Posted on 13 Oct