It will be reminiscent of Newport’s America’s Cup days when 19 yacht club teams from 14 nations descend on this “City by the Sea” next week. Like in 1983, when Newport last hosted the Cup races here,* the patriotic teams will be sailing on Rhode Island Sound for a trophy kept by the New York Yacht Club, but this time it isn’t the “Auld Mug.” It’s the Invitational Cup, which the New York Yacht Club has recently put into circulation for the purpose of reviving amateur racing on these shores and around the world.
“While the current America’s Cup competition is embroiled in legal contretemps, the New York Yacht Club is running an international event that features teams from as far away as China, Finland, Germany and New Zealand,” said Event Chair John Mendez. “The event will showcase the finest amateur sailors in the world and will be the most significant event that the New York Yacht Club has hosted in recent memory.”
Spectators with their own boats can watch the racing each day from Wednesday, Sept. 16 through Saturday, Sept. 19, after checking for an update for course location on the New York Yacht Club website (www.nyyc.org). Racing starts at 11 a.m. and is expected to take place mostly on the America’s Cup waters approximately one mile beyond R2 buoy, or on Narragansett Bay north of the bridge.
Another option is to follow the racing online, where Kattack will be providing “Live Race Tracking” (http://tinyurl.com/oyue8a). Visitors can perform operations such as selecting their favorite boats from a drop down list and following it throughout the series. Race viewing is free but requires a sign-up with username and password. A direct link to the tracking, along with blogs, daily video and results will be available at http://www.nyyc.org/eventnews once the regatta begins. On October 25th at 5 p.m. a one-hour ESPN2 show about the event will air.
Parade of Nations
On the morning of Saturday, Sept. 19, spectators can watch a Parade of Nations from key vantage points around the harbor, similar to watching Newport’s nautical Christmas parade in December. But instead of Christmas lights, the 19 vessels will fly their battle flags, display team names on their mainsails and fly their National Flags from stern staffs. “So come out and cheer for your favorite team or maybe your country of origin,” said Mendez.
The parade starts at 9 a.m. and will be led by the Race Committee vessel and the Commodore of the New York Yacht Club. It will travel counter-clockwise around the inner harbor, past Bowen’s and Bannister’s Wharf, Perotti Park, Newport Yacht Club, and Goat Island, before proceeding out of the harbor, past Fort Adams and Castle Hill toward the race course, where racing will begin at 11 a.m.
And while the competition at sea will be fierce, the revelry ashore is expected to be friendly as the New York Yacht Club hosts the teams, their families, and friends at Opening Ceremonies and various social functions. “The crews will no doubt be availing themselves of the social scene downtown throughout the week, and anyone who is interested can keep close tabs on racing developments,” said Mendez.
The NYYC Swan 42s that will be used by the teams are one-design, which means they are nearly identical (with only one suit of NYYC-provided sails allowed), putting performance emphasis on teamwork rather than equipment. It also means that – unlike handicap racing – when a boat finishes first in a race, it’s first, not second or third because of rating mathematics.
“Root, Root, Root for the Home Team”
Sure to have plenty of fans will be the New York Yacht Club’s own entry of Arethusa, with accomplished skipper Phil Lotz (Newport, R.I./New Canaan, Conn.) steering. He will have as his navigator Wendy Lotz, his wife, and as mast man and spinnaker trimmer, respectively, his sons Chris and Doug Lotz. Another local sailor aboard, well-known in Newport as well as around the world, will be Ken Read, who recently skippered Puma to second place in the Volvo Ocean Race and will serve as tactician for Arethusa. Arethusa snagged the NYYC’s berth at the Invitational Cup after emerging as top boat in an elimination series that included the NYYC 155th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex and the 2009 Swan 42 National Championship, which it won.
“We are very pleased and proud to be representing New York Yacht Club,” said Phil Lotz. “The core team has been sailing together since January, and this was a stated objective of the program.” Looking at the line-up for the Invitational Cup, Lotz added, “We have sailed against several of the skippers and crews, mostly the teams closer to the U.S., such as Bermuda and Canada. We have certainly heard of and know the reputations of many of the other skippers and teams, and we very much look forward to sailing against them. I think every team will be very competitive and tough to beat.”
Another U.S. team, skippered by Soling World Champion Craig Healy, will represent San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club. Alongside him on the chartered NYYC Swan 42 Interlodge will be noted tactician Russ Silvestri, a U.S. Olympian in the Finn class.
Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams, and the winning yacht club’s name will be engraved on the NYYC Invitational Cup that will be permanently displayed at NYYC’s Clubhouse.
The complete list of competing clubs is as follows:
Japan Sailing Federation (Tokyo, Japan)
New York Yacht Club (New York, N.Y., USA)
Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (Hamburg, Germany)
Nyländska Jaktklubben (Helsinki, Finland)
Real Club Nautico Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (Hamilton, Bermuda)
Royal Canadian Yacht Club (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Royal Cork Yacht Club (County Cork, Ireland)
Royal Danish Yacht Club (Hellerup, Denmark)
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (Hong Kong, China)
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (Auckland, New Zealand)
Royal Ocean Racing Club (London, England)
Royal St. George Yacht Club (County Dublin, Ireland)
Royal Thames Yacht Club (London, England)
Royal Yacht Squadron (London, England)
St. Francis Yacht Club (San Francisco, Calif., USA)
Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (Porto Cervo, Sardinia, Italy)
Yacht Club de France (Paris, France)
Yacht Club Italiano (Genoa, Italy)
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