Race Week at New York YC preview

Glenn Darden and Philip Williamson’s HOSS in the Swan 42 class at the 2010 NYYC Race Week
© Rolex / Dan Nerney
New York Yacht Club Race Week 2012 at Newport presented by Rolex is being held next week, from 14th to 22nd July. While the America’s Cup World Series has been packing up to leave Newport, a new group of world-class sailors has been moving in to prepare for Race Week.

Over two weekends and the week days in between, teams sailing classics as well as one-design and grand prix boats will battle it out on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, using the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court clubhouse as a base for social events each evening. The eighth biennial event kicks off Saturday July 14 with weekend racing for Classics, 6 Metres, Herreshoff S-Boats and 12 Metres and continues later in the week, from Thursday, July 19 through Sunday, July 22, with racing for Handicap and One-Design fleets. Separating the two sessions, on Wednesday, July 18, is a separately scored 19-mile Around the (Conanicut) Island Race, always a favorite for its consistent offerings of beautiful vistas and challenging current and wind conditions.

Hoping to add more silver to his trophy case will be Texan Glenn Darden (Fort Worth), who will skipper Hoss in the Swan 42 class, which is hosting its 2012 national championship as part of Race Week.

'This is a great event for the class and an opportunity to see old friends and competitors from the various other fleets,' said Darden, who with Hoss’s co-owner Philip Williamson is a two-time J/105 North American champion. 'We bought the Swan in 2007 and have had a lot of fun racing it over the last several years. We have an excellent team aboard and expect to be in the hunt for the championship; I would have to say the defending champion Apparition (Ken Colburn, Dover, Mass.) and Arethusa (Phil Lotz, Newport, R.I.) are the favorites, but it is always tight racing in this class, and we a have lots of good racers in the fleet.'

Darden added that the class chose to add a distance race into the scoring mix for this year's racing and will count that race plus three days of windward/leeward buoy racing in determining the 2012 Swan 42 national champion. 'It’s going to be fun!'

Race Week’s second half also will feature the J/109 North Americans and the Beneteau First 36.7 Northeast Championship. With 18 J/109s signed up so far, the turnout has only been exceeded at the class’s inaugural North American championship in 2006, when 19 boats competed. 'Race Week at Newport is a high profile event where race management is very good and the venue and racing area is truly spectacular,' said Rick Lyall, the 2009 J/109 North American champion, explaining that counting this 2012 championship, the J/109 Class will have held its North Americans at Race Week four times.

Lyall also noted that his Storm team will face stiff competition from three-time and defending North American Champion Ted Herlihy (South Dartmouth, Mass.), who will be skippering Gut Feeling, and Bill Sweetser (Annapolis, Md.), who has won the East Coast Championship three times aboard Rush.

'Donald Filipelli (Amagansett, N.Y.) aboard Caminos has also been a very tough competitor the last few years. It's always a battle between the four of us for the podium,' said Lyall. 'After that, who do we pay attention to? Everybody!

'Winning a major regatta takes a lot of preparation for the boat and crew and a reasonable amount of luck. Even when you've done everything you can to have everything on the boat in order--a perfect bottom, new sails and a highly experienced crew-- it all can fall apart with one bad break. A bad start, a foul, an unlucky wind shift or even abandonment of a race where you are doing well can all make the difference between winning and finishing down the ranks. You can control preparation, but being lucky is an intangible.'

The J/105 and Melges 32 classes will compete on Saturday, July 21, and Sunday, July 22, only, with the latter class preparing for its national and world championships, which will be held in Newport later this summer. For sailors with PHRF-rated boats, Race Week offers Navigator Races on the final Saturday and Sunday, using government marks and courses that emphasize navigational skills over around-the-buoys boathandling skills.

Race Week’s first half will be equally exciting, as it is the second leg of the 2012 NYYC Classic Series, and the 12 Metres will compete for the Newport Trophy. At the conclusion of Race Week, Rolex timepieces will be awarded for best overall performances in the IRC class, in the One-Design classes and to the winning skippers in the Swan 42 and J/109 classes which are holding their National and North American championships, respectively.

NYYC website