NYYC Swan 42 Nationals: Debut of a One-Design Class

The NYYC Club Swan 42 class leaves everyone on a level playing field with lots of good racing and cruising. From Gary Jobson's blog for September 25, 2007

Gary Jobson 140

Since 1900 New York YC has commissioned eight one-design classes, the newest of which is a hot Swan 42 designed by German Frers, Jr. Recently, 18 raced in a seven-race, no throwout series off Newport, R.I. (For video of the event, click here.)

As helmsman of one of the boats, Mustang, I can report that the competition was extremely tight. Alex Jackson, sailing his Amelia, won with 43 points, or a 6.1 average. In fact, second through ninth were separated by just 10 points. Eleven different boats had at least one top three finish. I think every competitor was pleasantly surprised at the even level of racing in these speedy boats.

The pioneer of this one-design Corinthian class is NYYC vice commodore David Elwell. He and his partners had been racing a Farr 40 for years, but wanted a boat that would do well on long distance races, and be a nice boat for cruising. A NYYC committee reviewed bids from several designers and builders. The end result was the NYYC Swan Club 42. To date there are 34 contracts for the 42s. Under the strict class rules each boat may sail with a paid boat captain and one unpaid Category III professional. All others must be Category I or II. On Mustang our pro was 58-year-old Phil Garland, who is a principle with Hall Spars. We used a mast jack to adjust shroud tension in between each race.

For me it was my first regatta of 2007 where I steered every race. These boats are mighty powerful. On Saturday a front passed through and the wind kicked in at 37 knots. We sailed over 12 knots on the reach to the finish. Upwind the 42s sail at 7.8 knots and tack through 75 degrees. What a thrill to be at the helm. Lucky for me, I received lots of help from our amateur crew.

My tactician was 20-year-old Russ O'Reilly from Charleston, S.C. I watched him win the college nationals the past two years and signed him up for Mustang. Let me state, this young man is one of the best new talents on the waterfront. This is a guy you will be reading about in future years. Our sail trimmers were from the Midwest. On the main, E-scow ace John Dennis found that keelboats can be lots of fun; on the jib, Justin Palm took time off from racing his Etchells in Chicago to sail with us.

My longtime friend, Norwood Davis, of Richmond, Va., inspired me and Whitey Lipscomb, also of Richmond, to form a partnership to campaign one of the new 42s. It is quite a challenge putting together a sailing program from scratch, as there are endless details to look after. In July we opened the season with a sixth place out of 11 boats in the Swan America Cup. Each day we had a different helmsman, which didn't work because you need to learn each day. From there we joined the NYYC Annual Cruise and sailed in the cruising division. Our next race was the Stamford-Vineyard Race. Our goal all summer had been to place in the top three at the National Championship. We got off to a slow start with a 14th, but soon learned that a consistent average would be the ticket to the podium. We worked to avoid traffic and stay clean. There were some hairy leeward mark roundings, but there was plenty of forgiveness all around. In the end Mustang finished second. It was a thrill to be part of it. These boats are going to provide great racing for many years to come.

For video of the 2007 NYYC Swan 42 Nationals, click here.