It took the Corinthian sailing world by storm in 2009, and its impact promises to be even greater when it returns again to the shores of Newport, R.I. this September 10-17. The New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex will host 19 yacht club teams representing 13 nations from six different continents in the ultimate sailing contest among amateur competitors proudly representing their homelands.
“There are many returning as well as new entries,” said Event Chair John Mendez, “and they are coming from as far away as South Africa, Portugal and Argentina. Just like in the halcyon days of the America’s Cup, competitors must be non-professional (Corinthian) sailors and members of the yacht clubs they represent; they must also be nationals of their countries.”
Mendez explained that the top-five finishers from the 2009 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup received automatic berths for the 2011 event, and all have accepted. They are (in order of finish) the New York Yacht Club (USA); Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN); Japan Sailing Federation (JAP); Nyländska Jaktklubben (FIN) and Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL).
New entries include the Yacht Club Argentino (ARG); Cruising Yacht Club of Australia; Yacht Club Capri (ITA), Yacht Club Punta Ala (ITA), Clube Naval de Cascais (POR); Royal Cape Yacht Club (SA) and Itchenor Sailing Club (GBR).
Also returning from 2009 are the Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR); Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER); Yacht Club Italiano (ITA) and Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP).
Rounding out the fleet will be three additional U.S. teams that were determined by the outcome of a 24-club U.S. Qualifying Series held at the NYYC in September 2010: Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, Mass.); Annapolis Yacht Club (Annapolis, Md.) and Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Newport Beach, Calif.).
The event will again be sailed in NYYC Swan 42s on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay, with the headquarters being the NYYC’s Harbour Court clubhouse overlooking Newport Harbor. In addition to Rolex, which for 2011 and 2013 is the presenting sponsor, Sperry Top-Sider and Nautor’s Swan have also returned as sponsors to enhance the experience of competitors as well as those who will be following the races.
“The inaugural event was tough and demanding, allowing yacht club teams from around the world to display the competitive skills of their best sailors,” said Mendez. “And with the help of our sponsors and the enthusiasm and patriotism shown by the teams, it was an experience for the contenders that cannot be duplicated by any other event in the world.”
Among the high-profile skippers returning to the competition this year are Makoto Uematsu (Japan Sailing Federation); Leonardo Ferragamo (Nyländska Jaktklubben); Anthony O’Leary (Royal Cork Yacht Club); and Mark Watson (Royal Bermuda Yacht Club), who finished third through sixth, respectively. The NYYC, which won the inaugural event with Phil Lotz (Newport, R.I./New Canaan, Conn.) skippering, will hold a sail-off to determine its 2011 team, as will many of the other clubs that have accepted invitations.
In anticipating the challenge for 2011, returning skipper Leonardo Ferragamo said, “It would be difficult to imagine a venue more evocative of the great sailing challenges than Newport, Rhode Island, where the America’s Cup was held from 1930-1983. The New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is an innovative event focused on fair and gentlemanly competition, outstanding organization and high-caliber international exposure. It is difficult to find a parallel event in the world of sport, and I believe it has already become a lighthouse in the world of international sailing competitions.”
Sailing World magazine agreed when it wrote, “The New York Yacht Club pulled out all the stops for its first Invitational Cup, creating what is sure to become a high-profile Corinthian Classic.”
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club (RCYC) won today’s opening race in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup and was pre-empted from showing its prowess in a second race when sailing had to be abandoned due to wind and technical difficulties. The race, sailed in lumpy seas and an 18-knot easterly on Rhode Island Sound, started the regatta off with lots of action, as the Canadian boat, helmed by Terry McLaughlin, battled most closely with the New York Yacht Club, Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL) and Japan Sailing Federation for best position between the start and the first mark two miles to windward.
“Japan (with Makoto Uematsu steering) had the best start,” said McLaughlin “and we had a good lane, but a huge left shift made us overstand the mark. There were boats farther to our left, but the Japanese were not as affected and rounded first.” The Canadians passed the Japanese team on the run to round the bottom mark first and carried their lead to the finish. New York (Phil Lotz of New Canaan, Conn./Newport, R.I., skippering), Royal Cork (Anthony O’Leary skippering), and the Japan Sailing Federation finished second, third, and fourth, respectively, with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (Mark Watson skippering) rounding out the top five.
L-R, 10, Royal Yacht Squadron, Oscar Strugstad; Mutiny, Yacht Club Italiano, Carlo A. Puri Negri;
16, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Mark Watson; 06, Royal Thames Yacht Club, John Greenland, and
15, Real Club Nautico de Barcelona, Jordi Tarré. Dan Nerney photo.
The Yacht Club Italiano’s skipper Carlo Puri Negri could have been happier at the end of the day. As it was, shortly after the start, the stitching at the head of his jib failed, causing the webbing to pull from the sail and render it useless. He was sitting in fourth, he said, at the time of the mishap. “We sailed the rest of the race with just a mainsail,” said Puri Negri. The same thing happened to the Nylandska Jaktklubben team (FIN), with Leonardo Ferragamo at the helm, and the jibs were promptly rushed to shore and repaired while the fleet moved from “outside” on the Sound to an “inside” course on northern Narragansett Bay where the waters are more protected.
“While the fleet waited for the second race to start, the wind increased to 22 knots,” said Swan 42 Class President Paul Zabetakis, explaining that this is the limit for constant winds in this regatta in accordance with the NOR, “Another jib had failed in the meantime, and that, coupled with the sustained wind strength, made it clear the racing needed to be abandoned.
“To North’s credit, they jumped right on the situation to fix the first two jibs, and tonight they will rework all the jibs so that racing can get underway again tomorrow,” said Zabetakis.
The regatta continues through Saturday (Sept. 19) when a Parade of Nations through Newport Harbor will precede the final races to determine the winner and will showcase the 19 teams from 14 countries competing here.