Newport, R.I., USA (June 28, 2006) – With some high-profile races now in its hip pocket, Newport still has some spectacular sailing to display next month at the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex. The one-of-a-kind biennial event, with racing scheduled for July 15-23, splits its racing format, giving the first half of the week (July 15-18) over to handicap racing under IRC, PHRF and the NYYC Cruising Rule, with a division for Classics and 12 Metres as well. The second half (July 20-23) is devoted to one-design racing, where four classes–Beneteau First 36.7, J/109, Farr 395 and Farr 40–will vie for their North American Championships, and another–Melges 32–will crown a national champion. An Around-the-Island Race (July 19) splits the two sessions and is scored separately.
“A summer of sailing in Newport just doesn’t get any better than this,” said Steven Wolff (Fairfield, Conn.), chair of NYYC’s Sailing Committee, explaining that high-profile events planned for this Fall and sailed thus far–June’s Centennial Bermuda Race and the New York Yacht Club’s 152nd Annual Regatta presented by Rolex to name two–have made Newport the hot spot for sailors from around the world and will boost Race Week attendance. “Race Week at Newport has its own reputation for attracting top sailors and serving as championships for various classes, but there is the added consideration that the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship (including the Farr 40 Pre-Worlds) and the 12 Metre North American Championship will be held in these same waters after our event.”
With that in mind, up to 30 Farr 40s from a dozen countries are expected to hit the line at Race Week at Newport, among them such familiar names as Barking Mad, Evolution, Fiamma, Groovederci, Heartbreaker, Ichiban, Joe Fly, Kokomo, Le Renard, Mascalzone Latino and Nerone. Evolution, owned by Australia’s Richard Perini, is the reigning world champion, and Race Week at Newport will be the team’s only U.S. event prior to the pre-worlds and worlds. Ichiban, on the other hand, has been logging more than its fair share of time on these shores. The boat, owned by another Australian Matt Allen, won the 15-boat Farr 40 class at the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex and finished second at the East Coast Championships in May in Annapolis. A few of the “rock star” tacticians expected to participate include Colin Beashel, Russell Coutts, Bill Hardesty, Jeff Madrigali, Hamish Pepper, Ken Read and Grant Simmer.
According to Jim Richardson, who has won the last two editions of Race Week at Newport with his Barking Mad, “the 2006 competition will be the most difficult one yet, both because of the sheer number of entrants and the quality of those competing. With almost all of the top contenders having committed to this event, we are definitely excited by the challenge lying ahead for us.”
In juxtaposition to the flat-out racing Farr 40s will be the racing/cruising Farr 395s, also competing for their North American Championships. According to class president and defending Race Week champion Roger Wagner (Upper Saddle River, N.J.), the Farr 395 is just about the same size and speed as the Farr 40, but it is more comfortable and easier to sail, as it was designed for both club racing and performance cruising. Nearby fleets expected to feed into Race Week are in Annapolis and Long Island, where Wagner has become the East Coast Circuit Champion aboard his Farr 395 Endurance. He expects to meet on the watery battlefield of Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay the class’s current North American Champions: Preben Ostberg, Bud Dailey and John Aras (Annapolis, Md.) aboard Tsunami.
“The event is fabulous, there’s no question,” said Wagner. “The New York Yacht Club does a great job; there are great classes and people coming; and there’s no better place to come spend a week.”
Besides those one-design classes competing for championship titles will be additional classes for J/105s, J/120s and Swan 45s. Defending his J/105 title from two years ago will be Thomas Coates (San Francisco, Calif.), aboard Masquerade. Among the Swan 45s committed are Massimo Ferragamo’s Italian entrant Bellicosa, Steve Devoe’s (Greenwich, Conn.) Devocean, Yukihiro Ishida’s Japanese entrant Yasha, Dick Weismann’s (New York, N.Y.) Vixen and Andrew Fisher’s (Greenwich, Conn.) Bandit, which is also entered in the first half of Race Week with the intention of sailing under the IRC rule.
“That is the beauty of Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex,” said Steven Wolff. “You can sail one half or the other, or compete in both sessions and try the Around-the-Island Race as well for a total of nine days of racing.”
In handicap racing, the IRC rating rule will make its Race Week debut, with returning Race Week IMS champion Dan Meyers (Boston, Mass.) making the rating switch on his Farr 60 Numbers. Returning PHRF champion Andrew Weiss (Greenwich, Conn.) also will sail in IRC division aboard his J/130 Christopher Dragon. And playing off his IRC victory in the NYYC Annual Regatta presented by Rolex as well as the Onion Patch Series will be Martin Jacobson (also Greenwich) aboard his Swan 44 Crescendo.
Rolex timepieces will be awarded to the yachts with the best overall performances in IRC and PHRF divisions, as well as one-design classes competing for their North American or National Championships that meet minimum entry levels. A timepiece will also be awarded for best overall performance during the one-design segment of the regatta.
Racing will take place on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay with up to three racing circles for the handicap and one-design portions of the week. Up to 11 races are planned per division. Shore-side activities will be hosted at Harbour Court, NYYC’s clubhouse on Newport Harbor.
The New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex extends the partnership established between Rolex and New York Yacht Club in 1994 and joins the calendar of prestigious Rolex sponsored sailing events including the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, slated for Newport in September; the International Rolex Regatta; Rolex Antigua Sailing Week; Rolex Big Boat Series; Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup; and Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
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