|It was an unseasonably wet, dreary day in Newport, but at least somewhere, someone was having fun. That somewhere was Rhode Island Sound where nearly 100 teams are competing in the New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex on the second day of the split-format event’s final four days of buoy racing. And that someone was Dawn Riley (Oyster Bay, N.Y.), who along with eight Oakcliff Sailing Center trainees, helped guide Art Santry’s (Oyster Bay) Ker 50 Temptation-Oakcliff to the top of the scoreboard in IRC Class 3after two victories in two races today.”We’re sailors; we get wet all the time,” said Riley, a veteran of America’s Cup and Whitbread Round the World Races who serves as executive director of Oakcliff in Oyster Bay. She explained that the Center’s mission of raising the level of sailors and sailing in the U.S. was on artful display today, as the trainees worked side-by-side with Riley, on mid-bow, and six other seasoned sailors, including Santry, who skippers and sponsors the boat.
According to Santry, the team played the shifts extremely well on three of the four upwind legs. “Our crew work was flawless, and the gybes and tacks were perfect,” he said, noting that yesterday Temptation-Oakcliff had been in third overall after finishing third in the opening race of the series. “I’m exceedingly impressed with the Oakcliff program; these kids are great. They have been working together with us all season, and they are tough, enthusiastic and dedicated to the program. If the crew work maintains, we’re going to be tough to beat.”
One race circle hosted four IRC classes, while another hosted one-design racing for J/109, J/111, Beneteau 36.7 and Swan 42 classes. Due to a light-wind forecast, the Swan 42s elected to resume buoy racing today rather than compete in their originally scheduled distance race, but in the end, they—like the other classes—were met with a hearty 12-15 knots by mid-morning, when the heaviest rain showers had moved on. Large swells also figured in as the winds tapered off to 8-10 during the course of the afternoon.
Another who had no problem making the most of the conditions was Craig Albrecht (Sea Cliff, N.Y.), skipper of the Farr 395 Avalanche in IRC Class 4. His team defended its first-place position from yesterday by finishing 3-4 today to stay two points ahead of Greg Manning’s (Warwick, R.I.) X-41 Sarah.
“Staying in the pressure was key, and changing gears up and down was important,” said Albrecht, whose team won the American Yacht Club Spring Series Regatta earlier this year. “The racing has been very close, and it has been exciting, especially at the mark roundings where many of the boats have overlapped.”
John Hele’s (Toronto, CAN/Newport) Daring won both races today in the Swan 42 class, propelling him to first overall from third yesterday and giving him a better shot at taking the national crown that is being determined here. Following a general recall, an individual recall after the start of the first race brought Z-flag penalties against the teams of Arethusa, Barleycorn, Impetuous and Conspiracy. Having not gone back to exonerate themselves from jumping the start gun cost the teams three positions on their scoring for that race. Defending national champion Ken Colburn (Dover, Mass.), helming Apparition, finished 4-4 today to drop to second from first yesterday.
The J/109s, which are sailing their North Americans, also had individual recalls in their first race that saw yesterday’s leader Storm, skippered by Rick Lyall (Wilton, Conn.), return to the start line to successfully clear. The team fought back to eighth and finished first in the second race, but the performance was only good enough for a third in overall scoring. It left the proverbial door open for Ted Herlihy’s (S. Dartmouth, Mass.) Gut Feeling to take the top spot after that team finished 4-2 today. With nine points, Gut Feeling’s overall score is shared with Skoot, skippered by Jim Vos (New Canaan, Conn.), which sits in second overall, so both teams are a slim one point ahead of Storm.
The J/111 Class’s first day of competition went well for Henry Brauer’s (Marblehead, Mass.) Fleetwing, which took bullets in each of two races. “The first race was great, because it was good breeze; the second race was a bit more challenging because of the lighter wind and the lumpy seas,” said Brauer, who is new to the J/111 Class this year after having sold the J/105 Scimitar that he co-owned with Stewart Neff (serving as his tactician here) and with which he won the 2011 J/105 North American Championship. “We got good starts, Stewart put us in the right place, and the team did a great job trimming the sails and keeping us going the whole time. The important thing to racing well is having a good team, so there are a lot of the same people onboard that I’ve sailed with in the past. Having that nucleus is very important.”
In the Beneteau 36.7 Class, William Purdy’s (New York, N.Y) Whirlwind displaced John Hammel’s (Arlington, Mass.) Elan at the top of the scoreboard after winning both races today. Elan finished 2-3 to take second overall, just one point behind Elan, and David Powers’s (Boston, Mass.) Agora is only one more point behind in third, on the merit of a 3-2 today.
Yesterday, in the second of two races for IRC Class 1, Bob and Farley Towse’s (Stamford, Conn.) Reichel Pugh 66 Blue Yankee could not finish within the time limit and posted five points to the two posted by George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) Reichel Pugh 90 Rambler. Today the two teams split the victories in two races, so Rambler still holds a three-point lead in the two-boat series thus far.
In IRC 2, Jim Swartz’s (Park City, Utah) IRC 52 Vesper still leads after finishing 1-5 today, while Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, R.I.) IRC 52 Interlodge has moved into second place overall.
Three more new classes will join the action tomorrow: Melges 32, J/105 and PHRF, the latter of which is sailing “navigator courses” instead of around the buoys.
For complete results, daily video and blog for the 2012 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex, visit www.nyyc.org.
J/111 (One Design – 6 Boats)
Beneteau 36.7 (One Design – 8 Boats)
Swan 42 (One Design – 15 Boats)
J/109 (One Design – 17 Boats)
IRC 1 (IRC – 2 Boats)
IRC 2 (IRC – 5 Boats)
IRC 3 (IRC – 8 Boats)
IRC 4 (IRC – 14 Boats)
With three races conducted in strong winds, there was opportunity for boats to make a significant move in the standings on the second day of Quantum Key West 2012. Or in some cases it was a chance to further increase leads taken on Day 1. Pisces fit into the former category, moving into the overall lead in Melges 32 class by winning two of three races on Tuesday. Skipper Benjamin Schwartz and company showed superb boat speed and made some sound tactical decisions and now lead the 19-boat fleet by tiebreaker over John Kilroy and the Samba Pa Ti team. “We are a new program so it is a tremendous feeling to be doing well in a big-time regatta like Key West. Hopefully, we can keep it going,” said Schwartz, who joined the class last summer and promptly placed fourth at U.S. Nationals. Schwartz has America’s Cup veteran Ed Baird calling tactics and Quantum professional Scott Nixon trimming the jib and spinnaker. “You have to give Ed and Scott a lot of credit for getting our boat up to speed,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a great crew. Today was very challenging because the wind velocity was up and down and the sea state was not very forgiving, but the guys never stopped working and we were able to change gears pretty well.” Race committees on all three courses completed three races in 8-14 knot easterly winds.
With five races in the bag, organizers with Premiere Racing are already halfway to the stated goal of holding 10 races during the five-day regatta. There was a lead change in the Farr 40 class as well with Charisma (Nico Poons, Monaco) and Struntje Light (Wolfgang Schaefer, Germany) overtaking Groovederci (John Demourkas, Santa Barbara, Cal.). Struntje Light has posted a pair of seconds and finished no lower than fourth in the seven-boat fleet, but Charisma holds the overall lead via tiebreaker by virtue of winning Race 5. “We had a very good day on the water and are happy with where we stand at the moment,” Schaefer said. “We have nice boat speed upwind and our crew work has been excellent. We have a very good tactician and he’s made some fantastic calls that have kept me in phase.” Renowned Italian professional and America’s Cup veteran Vasco Vascotta is calling tactics aboard Struntje Light, which has competed in Farr 40 class at Key West ever since 2002 with a top finish of third. “Wolfgang is doing a good job of driving and is getting better every day. The guys onboard have a great attitude and are ready to fight to the end. The good news is that we can still improve our performance.” PowerPlay lived up to its name by making a strong move in IRC 2 class with a strong line of 1-3-4 on Tuesday. Owner Peter Cunningham, a resident of Georgetown in the Cayman Islands, has a nice mix of amateur and professional crew with tactician Tony Rey, trimmer Dave Scott and bowman Geordie Shaver among the superstars aboard. “We’ve only had the boat for six months and we’ve made a lot of modifications during that time,” Cunningham said. “We’re pretty happy with our performance so far. We’re sailing fairly well and having a lot of fun.” Quantum Racing, skippered by Doug DeVos, continues to set the pace in the 52-foot class and leads PowerPlay by six points. Terry Hutchinson, helmsman for the Swedish syndicate Artemis Racing that is Challenge of Record for the America’s Cup, has made strong tactical calls in leading Quantum to victory in three races and second in the two others. “Today was far from straightforward. The wind was very shifty and there are some tricky current patches to deal with,” Hutchinson said. In other classes, the three-race day merely served as an opportunity for the early leaders to extend on the competition.
Ran, a Judel-Vrolijk 72-footer, continues to sail impressively in the Mini Maxi class (IRC 1), winning all five races so far. Red, skippered by Joe Woods of Great Britain with Paul Goodison aboard as tactician, has accomplished the same feat in the inaugural Farr 400 class. “I guess we’ve just figured the boat out a little faster than the other teams,” said Woods, who has previously sailed a Melges 32 at Key West. “We’re winning, but not by much. The racing has been awfully close.” West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes has posted straight bullets in Melges 24 class and built a commanding 10-point lead over Alan Field and the WTF team. Detroit resident Bora Gulari is steering and getting tactical advice from Australian native and North Sails pro Jeremy Wilmot as West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes seeks to follow up on its 2011 national championship. Groovederci, skippered by Deneen Demourkas of Santa Barbara, Cal., has won all five races in Farr 30 class. Teamwork, a J/122 owned by Robin Team of Lexington, N.C., has posted two bullets and a pair of seconds in grabbing a narrow one-point lead over the 1D35 Tres Hombres in PHRF 1. “We’re having a great time because the conditions have been terrific and the competition has been spectacular,” said Team, who has his brother and two sons in the crew. “We’ve been mixing it up with Tres Hombres and finished overlapped with them in the first two races today. Rush is also tough so I think it will be a dogfight the whole way.” Rush, a J/109 skippered by Bill Sweetser of Annapolis, was named Lewmar / Navtec Boat of the Day after posting a superb score line of 3-2-1. Tom Babel is calling tactics while Quantum pro Tad Hutchins is calling tactics on Rush, which is currently third in PHRF 1 and second in the J/Boats Subclass. “The conditions were very good for us today. When the wind is 14 knots or less we can fly our big jib, which is kind of like our secret weapon,” Sweetser said. “We pay for that jib in our rating so it’s good whenever we can use it.” It’s been close but no cigar for Rush at Key West as Sweetser’s boat has finished first or second in class several times, but never come away as overall winner at week’s end. “One of these years we’re going to finally break through and it’s going to be wonderful,” he said. Regatta dates are January 15 – 20, 2012.
For more Key West Race Week photos by Tim Wilkes check out Tim Wilkes Photography