After four days of racing in a variety of conditions across a mix of around-the-buoys and distance, New York Yacht Club’s seventh biennial Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex came to an end this afternoon. Light winds threatened to cancel the last day of racing for the 35 competing boats, but by 2pm Newport’s classic southerly sea breeze filled in against a stubborn northerly and offered suitable conditions for racing. All classes raced on a four-leg windward/leeward course, and at the end of the day the Southern Cross 52 Vela Veloce was determined the best performing boat and was named the 2010 Rolex US-IRC National Champion. Its owner and skipper, Richard Oland (St. John, New Brunswick, CAN), was presented with a specially engraved Rolex Yacht-Master at this evening’s Rolex Gala and Awards Party held at Harbour Court.
“This is a tremendous thrill for us,” said Oland, who won his IRC class in March’s International Rolex Regatta. He pointed out that competing against all of the boats in the fleet is exciting. “That’s the secret of IRC. The reason it’s become so good is because it allows for innovation. If you look at the results, and you look at boats you see how close they are. Like in our class, class 2, we were all within 50 feet.”
The overall winner was calculated by comparing all entries based on a formula of average seconds per nautical mile. In determining the overall winner, the NYYC Sailing Office noted that the time separating winner Vela Veloce from the second-place overall was 13/100s of a second.
Winning the class wasn’t enough; it was the overall performance that counted. Not much of a consolation to Steve Benjamin (South Norwalk, Conn.) and his team onboard his Tripp 41 Robotic Oncology, which won IRC Class 3 and finished in second place overall.
“We knew we won our class quite easily,” said Benjamin. “We knew we had a good shot at the overall title. Today was great, but we were nervous because there was so much on the line. We have been trying to win with this boat for the past five years, and although we have had some success there was all this added pressure.”
Vela Veloce won IRC Class 2 with an impressive score line of four first places and two seconds. In second place was Captivity, George Sakellaris’s (Framingham, Mass.) Farr 60, 10 points back. Although Blair Brown’s (Padanaram, Mass.) 55-foot Sforzando won today’s final race, it wasn’t enough to move up in the standings, and it finished in third.Robotic Oncology finished the regatta with five wins and one fifth-place finish in six races. After racing, Benjamin’s oncologist Dr. Samadi of Mount Sinai Hospital, who was on the water watching today’s race was clearly impressed with his patient’s racing skills. “The way that he worked with his team is the same as when you do robotic surgery. You have to work together with your team in the same way. Steve did an amazing job.”
John Cooper’s (Springfield, Mo.) Mills 43 Cool Breeze placed second in IRC Class 3, while Philip Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) NYYC Swan 42 Arethusa finished in third.
Daniel Meyers’s (Boston, Mass.) J/V66 Numbers took a second in today’s only race and held onto the lead in IRC Class 1. George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) Rambler finished in second place, while Ray Roberts’s (Sydney, Australia) STP65 Evolution Racing is in third.
IRC Class 5 winner was Storm, Rick Lyall’s (Wilton, Conn.) J/109 that moved up to win the overall class by placing third in today’s race. “We only started racing in IRC, and this is our fourth or fifth IRC event. It’s a very good measurement and rating system. We seem to have a competitive boat. We worked really hard at making sure we had a good configuration in the sail plan, and we sailed really well. To have beat Carina, the winner of Newport Bermuda Race, in the Annual Regatta and now here. Well, that’s top-notch competition. You know, Rush beat us earlier this year, and it’s been back and forth with them. They put in a really good effort.”
Bill Sweetser’s (Annapolis, Md.) J/109 Rush finished in second, while Nordlys, Robert Schwartz’s (Port Washington, N.Y.) J/109, finished in third by winning the last race.
Lyall went on to give credit to the split-format of Race Week. “The first half of the week was our J/109 North American championship,” he said. “And that was very tough and competitive racing. Coming into it I was the defending champion. I was disappointed we didn’t’ defend, but Gut Feeling is a bunch of great sailors and we take no shame in losing to them. In the IRC event, we had a really terrific distance race. You can’t ever beat a race like that with 25 knots of wind. We were going 14 knots; it was fantastic racing!”
Christopher Dragon held onto its IRC Class 4 lead going into today’s final race, finished second and held on to win overall. “To tell you the truth, we were hoping for no race,” joked owner and skipper Andrew Weiss (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) “It turned out pretty well. The breeze filled in, and the wind wound up being steadier than yesterday.”
The J/122 won by one point over Craig Albrecht’s (Sea Cliff, N.J.) Farr 395 Avalanche. “All we did for today was cover Avalanche and the other J/122, Partnership,” said Weiss. “We sailed more conservatively, after being over the line early yesterday. To win the series was our goal.”
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