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Noble Marine 2022 YY - LEADERBOARD

Knight Errant, Hot Canary & Constance Meeks win classes at the Philadelphia Cup Regatta

by Carol Bareuther 28 May 18:16 BST May 25, 2024
Liberty Sailing Club's fleet of J/27s racing in The Philadelphia Cup © Irina Bernatsky

George Bader says he was stoked as he sailed to the Delaware River buoy-marked course to race in the Philadelphia Cup Regatta, held May 25, 2024, and hosted by Philadelphia's Liberty Sailing Club.

"This was the coolest venue I have ever sailed, right in the shadow of Philadelphia," says Bader, who competed under the Riverton Yacht Club burgee. After three races, the Riverton, NJ, resident was even happier after winning the regatta's PHRF Spinnaker Racing Class.

Bader was one of three class winners in a fleet of 20 boats and 100-plus sailors to race in the revival of The Philadelphia Cup, which was last held in 2016. Racing started after a 45-minute delay while the Race Committee waited for the wind to fill into a competitive plus 5 knots from the south-southeast. The scenic 0.5-nautical mile course saw the PHRF Spinnaker, PHRF Non-Spinnaker, and One-Design Sunfish classes sail around the buoys just off Penn's Landing and the Independence Seaport Museum with the Ben Franklin Bridge in the background. After two races in a diminishing breeze, the fleet took an on-the-water lunch break. Soon after, the breeze filled back to 7 mph, clocking to the southwest, enough for the Race Committee to reset the course and run a successful third race for the PHRF Spinnaker boats, which included winner Knight Errant.

"Our light wind strategy was to try not to talk to each other above a whisper. It reminded everyone onboard to slow down, move gently, and not get frustrated. With the conditions such as they were, creativity and patience won the day," says Bader, whose team, including friends James Elder and Mike Duffy, and his dad, Tom Bader, posted two firsts and a third.

The 9-boat Spinnaker Class featured seven of the Liberty Sailing Club's fleet of J/27s and a Beneteau First 27, in addition to Bader's J/24.

Philadelphia's Michele Mottini finished second in the PHRF Spinnaker Class and led the J/27s aboard the Pennsylvania.

"We got a great start by my co-skipper, Andrew Zyman, we managed to get in clear air and we had decent spinnaker work. I rarely miss an opportunity to race. It was cool racing right at the historic Philadelphia waterfront," says Mottini, whose crew also included Mike Unger on the foredeck, Bill Wyatt on pit and jib trim, and Tom Ginsberg on jib trim.

In the PHRF Non-Spinnaker Class, it was Don Hoefle from Burlington, NJ, whose crew sailed the Able Pointin 24, Hot Canary, to first.

"My wife Geri and I have been racing in this event since it started in the early 1990s and we won it one year. Our names are engraved on the Philadelphia Cup perpetual trophy," says Hoefle, a member of the East End Yacht Club in Burlington. "We've been sailing this same boat for 45 years. It was built in 1975, designed by Bob Evelyn, and evolved into the J/24 years later."

The 8-boat Non-Spinnaker Class proved a wonderful mix of 24- to 52-footers with brands ranging from Ranger, Santana, and Hunter to C&C, S2, and a Cape Dory Typhoon Senior.

Lastly, in the highly competitive One-Design Sunfish Class, Pitman, NJ's Constance Meeks and Haddon Township, NJ's Judith Lazo traded tacks, each posting first- and second-place finishes. Meeks won the tiebreaker on points by finishing first in the last race. Both women sail out of the Cooper River Yacht Club in Collingswood, NJ.

"I was looking for the wind in the last race and was lucky to find decent, consistent wind, right up to the windward mark," says Meeks, who had sailed in past Philadelphia Cups, enjoyed it, and wanted to do so again. "I very much enjoyed the camaraderie of sailing with friends in a well-run regatta."

Sailing fun onshore

Spectators lined Penn's Landing waterfront, which gave a splendid view of the racing.

"We came to see the regatta," says Robert Zwart, who lives in Philadelphia with wife, Diane. The couple said they spent many years sailing Lightening's and Catalina's when living in San Francisco and New York.

Spectators also enjoyed several fun and entertaining day and evening events at the Cherry Street Pier and Spruce Street Harbor Park hosted by the Delaware Waterfront Corporation.

An Awards Ceremony followed at the Sea Philly River Cruising Tours Estuary at 6:00 p.m. Each class champion, Bader, Hoefle, Mottini, and Meeks, will have their name engraved onto The Philadelphia Cup. A reception followed aboard the historic Tall Ship, Gazela Primeiro. Sponsor Peroni USA was the official beer sponsor of the regatta. In addition to providing their classic premium Italian lager style beer, they introduced their new non-alcoholic beer, a great tasting, hydrating, and safe way to drink and sail.

"Our new premium non-alcoholic beer, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, translates to Peroni Blue Ribbon, named after the "Blue Ribbon" Italian Ship SS Rex took home in 1933. A perfect alignment with racing on the water and Philadelphia; it was a great opportunity to be part of an event like The Philadelphia Cup," says Alex Burns, national senior brand developer for Peroni USA.

Mark your calendar for 2025

The success of the 2024 revival of The Philadelphia Cup means the regatta is solidly on the schedule for 2025.

"Liberty Sailing Club is incredibly grateful to the community on the river on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides for helping to make this happen. We were fortunate to be supported by this robust community as well as sailors and clubs up and down the river and beyond. The wind might not have been ideal, but the enthusiasm and excitement for seeing this event return after an eight-year hiatus was palpable. Thank you to all who made the 2024 Philadelphia Cup possible and we're looking to return in the fall of 2025," says Laura Ness, regatta director.

The Liberty Sailing Club thanks the generosity of volunteer organizations and sponsors of the Riverton Yacht Club; St. Thomas Sailing Center at St. Thomas Yacht Club, U.S. Virgin Islands; the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild; Peroni Nastro Azzurro, reception beer sponsor; Sea Philly River Cruising Tours; Sheet Metal Workers Local 19; Penn's Landing Catering; Porco's/Small Oven Pastry Shop; Industrious; Jacob's Management Group (JMG); Long & Foster Real Estate; Luff Out Loud Racing Team; The Colonial Theater; and Out of the Woods Bags - Sustainable Insulated Coolers.

For more information, visit libertysailing.clubexpress.com