When Newport’s local NBC affiliate aired a story this weekend about a recent run of foul weather affecting Southern New England’s tourism and commerce, the included coverage of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) 155th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex served as a good-news sidebar to the piece. The three-day regatta, the longest running in this country’s history, attracted 105 boats, the most in a non-Bermuda Race year, and served up weather challenges that, while perhaps disappointing to beach-goers, delighted the 1000 plus sailors competing on Rhode Island Sound over three days.
With fog shrouding the first part of Friday’s 19-mile Around the Island Race, Artie Means (San Diego, Calif.), navigator aboard Tom and Dottie Hill’s Puerto Rican entry Titan 15, had his work cut out for him. “We were short-tacking up the southern side of Conanicut Island and I could see land on my instruments but the crew couldn’t see anything, even when we only had 40 seconds left before reaching shore.” The new Reichel-Pugh 75, which recently won the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race and is counting this as only its “second race out of the box,” won on corrected time and was first-to-finish with an elapsed time of just over one hour and 51 minutes, beating out by one minute the Custom 90-foot maxi Rambler, owned by George David (Hartford, CT). Though Friday’s race was an optional, separately-scored competition, it foreshadowed Titan’s coming battle with Roger Sturgeon’s (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) Rosebud/Team DYT (which corrected out to second over Rambler’s third in the distance race) in weekend buoy racing that would determine Annual Regatta winners.
“I guess we’ve paid our dues,” said Tom Hill, referring to the huge task of designing and building the breakthrough Titan 15, which succeeds his other famously successful race boats of the same name, “and this is the reward. The boat is sailing beautifully.”
After Saturday’s two races, Titan was tied on points for first with Rosebud, known for excelling in heavier winds, which topped out at 14 for the regatta. Sunday’s two races in their IRC Class 1 presented mainly light air, which allowed Titan to confirm a slight advantage and take the regatta, though only by virtue of tie-breaking rules.
“Every dog has its day and even when it’s not your day you race as hard as you can,” said Sturgeon. “We have pretty dissimilar boats but we were close in that we traded places (two firsts and two seconds for each).”
The IRC boats were split into five classes, with One-Designs, Classics, 12 Metres, 6 Metres and PHRF boats rounding out the fleet.
On Sunday, Clay Deutsch (Newport, R.I.) maintained his lead from Saturday in IRC 2, repeating his victory from last year aboard his Swan 68 Chippewa. “Today it worked out,” he said, describing his 1-2 finishes in pleasant breezes and under a sky that seemed to have finally purged itself of the early morning’s rain.
In IRC3, aboard the King 40 ACT ONE, Charlie Milligan and co-owner Allan Stern (Newport, R.I.) turned in two bullets to hold four victories in their four-race series. “We had to worry about some other boats,” said pit man Doug Ferguson (Newport), “but we were first to the first top and bottom marks every time. We took the finish line gun all four times and saved our time on everyone. It was our breeze.”
Taking IRC Class 4 was William Mayer’s (Greenwich, Conn.) Swan 441 Cygnette, while William Sweetser (Annapolis, Md.) won IRC Class 5 with his J/109 Rush on a tie breaker. In Classics division NYYC Rear Commodore Tom Harrington (Greenwich, Conn.) steered his S&S design Black Watch to victory over five races, and in J/105s, Brian Keane’s (Weston, Mass.) Savasana prevailed to win a five-race series as well.
The 12 and 6 Metres are both prepping for their Worlds in the fall here, while the J/122s are warming up for their North Americans later in June at Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week, another event presented by Rolex. Winning in 12 Meter Classic and Modern classes after five races were, respectively, John Wullschleger (Sarasota, Fla.) on Nefertiti and Dennis Williams (Hobe Sound, Fla.) on Victory 83. The 6 Metres, which sailed five races, were won by Tony Widmann (Stratford, Conn.) on Ranger. Taking J/122 class was Andrew Weiss (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) on Christopher Dragon after six races.
According to Glenn Darden (Fort Worth, Texas), who skippered Hoss to victory in the NYYC 42 class: “From the sketchy weather forecast, it didn’t look good…but then six great races later…it was a great weekend of racing!”
Winning “Best Boat of the Day” for Saturday were Act One, Hoss and Savasana, while Sunday’s honors went to Troubador, Flapper and Daring.
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