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165th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta Day 1 - Fortune favors the bold

by Stuart Streuli 15 Jun 02:40 BST 14-16 June 2019
165th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta © Daniel Forster

Boats designed to the Universal Rule weren't built to be sailed tentatively, or by tentative sailors. The smaller classes, in particular, were narrow with minimal freeboard and required determined, fearless sailors to get the most out of the design, especially in extreme conditions.

Day 1 of the 165th edition of North America's oldest sailing eventthe New York Yacht Club's Annual Regattafeatured exactly that, a southerly breeze that built to 20-plus knots and a bellicose offshore swell that topped out at 6 to 8 feet. Numerous boats decided against starting today, saving their figurative bullets for the weekend series, while a handful of others dropped out before the the finish.

Peter McClennen's R Class yacht Gamecock may be closing in on 100 years old, but she's no shrinking violet. McClennen and his team pushed his Herreshoff design, which was originally built for a commodore of the New York Yacht Club, all the way around the 19-mile circumnavigation of Conanicut Island and were rewarded with an overall win in the Classics Division.

"We had incredible conditions," said McClennen. "We beat our time last year by an hour. We hit speeds faster than we've ever hit before. I would say [the top speed of a R Class yacht] is 11 knots; we hit 12.6. I've never seen above 10. We were completely soaked. The boat went through the waves, rarely over the waves, and we just kept fighting."

The Universal Rule was the rule for yachts in North America during the first half of the 20th century. The most famous boats built to the rule were the J Class yachts, which sailed for the America's Cup three times in the 1930s. A 1931 agreement between yachting officials from North America and Europe led to the Universal Rule being used for larger boats while the International Rule would focus on smaller boats. The demise of large yachts after World War II effectively killed the Universal Rule, but many boats designed to it live on, and continue to prove their meritand that of the ruleon the racecourse.

"It's actually never sedate in the vintage day racers because they're pure raceboats," says McClennen. "They're not cruisers, they're designed specifically to race, this is what they're born to do. [Gamecock] has been doing it for 94 years."

Barring a significant windshift, a lap of Conanicut Island usually features a minimum of sail changes, often one spinnaker set and one douse. But that wasn't the case on Gamecock.

"We flew three different spinnakers at three different points of sail, with pretty aggressive crew work to get them up and down," says McClennen. "We started [the run up Narragansett Bay's West Passage] with an asymmetric, moved to a symmetric and then we moved back to a different asymmetric. Having a broad inventory helped us in all the varied conditions. We just kept the foot on the gas the whole time."

For Mark Lindquist, who sailed his J/105 Sterling (at left, USA 456) to an overall win in PHRF classes, the philosophy was the same: keep pushing all the way around the track. Lindquist sails his boat regularly on Buzzards Bay, which is known for heavy breeze. So he and his team, who have been with him for most of the 14 years he's owned the boat, were perfectly at home in today's gusty conditions.

"It was nice 105 weather," he says. "We just had the boat tuned up and great crew work and went pedal forward. Downwind around the island was really good, we were able to control the boat, get the boat planing downwind a couple of times. We hit 16, 18 knots heading down the back side of the island."

The J/105 isn't known as a planing boat, and Lindquist was worried that two of the lighter boats in the division might turn their respective downwind speed potential into an insurmountable lead by the time the boats turned around the north end of Conanicut Island and headed upwind to the finish off Rose Island.

"We were worried the Quest 30 [Tristan Mouligne's Samba] because we know it's a well-sailed boat and he was with us for a long time, but then had a little mess up with his spinnaker take down and we got away from him," says Lindquist. "The only other boat that we had an issue with the new J/99 [Agent 99, skippered by Jeff Johnstone] because he shot out in front of us [on the run]. He was sailing well, but we were able to keep him in our sights."

Boat Agent 99 and Sterling took around two and half hours to finish the course. After the handicaps were applied, the margin of victory for Lindquist and his team was a mere 34 seconds.

The most impressive win of the day may have gone to Tom Stark and Ben Wagner in the IC37 class. The Rush team was a few seconds early for the start and had a challenging time getting turned around and re-starting. By the time they were headed back upwind, it looked like they would be hard pressed to get into the top half of the fleet, not to mention the podium.

"We are still getting our communication sorted out between the bow person, Drew [Freides, tactician] and myself and we managed to talk ourselves right over the line and we were over early," says Stark. "We doubled back and sailed a strong first beat working hard on boat speed and Drew did an excellent job calling tactics across the current and playing the shore across both sides and figuring out when to go across. We worked our way up to the windward mark and were able to round in fourth or fifth."

A further strong performance on the run vaulted Stark and his crew into the lead, which they held to the finish.

Tonight the tent was full of sailors reliving an epic lap of Conanicut Island. Win or lose, it was a great day of sailing. The slate is wiped clean, however, for the weekend series, which is scored separately. Racing will continue tomorrow, with the first gun sounding at 11 am. Another day of strong breeze is forecast.

Results after Day 1:
Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points

Classics 1 (CRF MkII - 6 Boats)
1. Sonny, S&S 53 53, Craig Venter, La Jolla, CA, USA - 1; 1
2. Nirvana, Custom Yawl 65, David Ray, Newport, RI, USA - 2; 2
3. Santana, Sparkman and Stephens 55'5, Wendy Schmidt, Nantucket, MA, USA - 3; 3

Classics 2 (CRF MkII - 6 Boats)
1. Gamecock, Herreshoff R Class 39, Peter McClennen, Newport, RI, USA - 1; 1
2. Lucie, 6 Metre 11.23m, Craig Healy, Newport, RI, USA - 2; 2
3. Leaf, Luders 24 38, Chris Bouzaid, Cushing, ME, USA - 3; 3

IRC 1 (IRC - 5 Boats)
1. Beau Geste, IRC 52 52, Karl Kwok, Hong Kong, China - 1; 1
2. FOX, TP52 52, Victor Wild, San Diego, CA, USA - 2; 2
3. Highland Fling 16, Botin 56 55.77, Irvine Laidlaw, Monaco, MON - 3; 3

IRC 2 (IRC - 10 Boats)
1. Interlodge IV, Botin 44 44, Austin and Gwen Fragomen, Newport, RI, USA - 1; 1
2. Dream Crusher, Kernan 47 47, Devin McGranahan, Miami, FL, USA - 2; 2
3. Rikki, R/P 42 42, Bruce Chafee, Boston, MA, USA - 3; 3

IRC 3 (IRC - 9 Boats)
1. Cool Breeze, Mills 43 Custom 43, John Cooper, Cane Hill, MO, USA - 1; 1
2. Incognito, J121 40, Joe Brito, Newport, RI, USA - 2; 2
3. Ticket to Ride, Swan 45 45, Edward Whitmore, Norfolk, VA, USA - 3; 3

IRC 4 (IRC - 9 Boats)
1. Teamwork, J 122 40, Team Syndicate, Lexington, NC, USA - 1; 1 2. Tarahumara, J 122 40, Jack Gregg, Bryn Mawr, PA, USA - 2; 2 3. Bravo, J 111 36.5, Andrew Ward/Sedgwick Ward, Shelter Island, NY, USA - 3; 3

IC37 (One Design - 15 Boats)
1. Rush, IC37 37, Thomas Stark Ben Wagner, Jupiter, FL, USA - 1; 1
2. Double Jointed, IC37 37, Ray Wulff / Andy Fisher Wulff, Annapolis, MD, USA - 2; 2
3. Qubit, IC37 37, Chris Lewis, Seabrook, TX, USA - 3; 3

12 Metre (One Design - 10 Boats)
1. Challenge 12 (M), 12 Metre 67, Jack LeFort, Jamestown, RI, USA - 1; 1
2. Courageous (M), 12 Metre 65, Ralph Isham /Alexander Auersperg, Newport, RI, USA - 2; 2
3. New Zealand, 12 Metre 64, Gunther Buerman, Newport, RI, USA - 3; 3

J 109 (One Design - 4 Boats)
1. Rush, J 109 35, Sweetser, Annapolis, MD, USA - 1; 1
2. Leading Edge, J 109 35, Tom Sutton, Houston, TX, USA - 2; 2
3. Gambit, J 109 35, Brian Kiley, Cranston, RI, USA - 3; 3

M32 (One Design - 6 Boats)
1. Bliksem, M32 32, Pieter Taselaar, Greenwich, CT, USA - 1; 1
2. GBR SailGP, M32 32, Chris Draper, Poole, Dorset, GBR - 2; 2
3. Convergence, M32 32, Jennifer Wilson, CHICAGO, IL, USA - 3; 3

Swan ORC (ORC - 12 Boats)
1. The Cat Came Back, Swan 42 42, Lincoln Mossop, Providence, RI, USA - 1; 1
2. Tramontana, Swan 56 57.5, Heidi Herlihy Todd Barbera, Marblehead, MA, USA - 2; 2
3. Barleycorn, Swan 42 42.5, Brendan Brownyard, Bay Shore, NY, USA - 3; 3

PHRF 1 (PHRF - 3 Boats)
1. Simon Says, Andrews 70 68, Lorenzo Vascotto, New York, NY, USA - 1; 1
2. Irie 2, Kerr 55 55, Brian Cunha, Newport, RI, USA - 2; 2
3. Jambi, Bermuda 50 50', John Levinson, Southport, CT, USA - 4; 4

PHRF 2 (PHRF - 11 Boats)
1. Sarah, J 121 40, Gregory Manning, Warwick, RI, USA - 1; 1
2. Vamoose, J 120 40.0, Bob Manchester, Barrington, RI, USA - 2; 2
3. Foxtrot, X 482 48, Nicholas Brown, Providence, RI, USA - 3; 3

PHRF 3 (PHRF - 13 Boats)
1. Sterling, J 105 34.5, Mark Lindquist, Kingston, MA, USA - 1; 1
2. Agent 99, J 99 32.6, Jeffrey Johnstone, Newport, RI, USA - 2; 2
3. Samba, Quest 30 30, Tristan Mouligne, Middletown, RI, USA - 3; 3

PHRF 4 (PHRF - 5 Boats)
1. Scoundrel, 6 Metre 37, Jamie Hilton, Tiverton, RI, USA - 1; 1
2. Odyssey, S&S 47.57, David/Alfred Brodsky/VanLiew, Middletown, R.I., USA - 2; 2
3. Lorelei, Hanse 348 34, David Johnson, VERO BEACH, FL, USA - 3; 3

PHRF Non-Spin (PHRF - 4 Boats)
1. Jazz Fish, Freedom 35 35, Paul Koch, East Greenwich, RI, USA - 1; 1
2. Duck Soup, C&C 40 39'6, Bill Clavin, Warwick, RI, USA - 2; 2
3. Crackerjack, Cambria 40 41.0, Alan Krulisch, Arlington, VA, USA - 3; 3

Full results available here.

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