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2011 Invitational Cup Form Guide

It came down to the second tiebreaker, but Blake Kimbrough was able to squeak by Wes Bemus and win Sailing World's Pick 'Em Contest for the 2011 New York YC Invitational Cup. Blake takes home a free pair of Sperry Shoes and the inaugural SW Pick 'Em championship.

September 12, 2011
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Sailing World

110921_Pick_Em_Final1

The final results for Sailing World‘s Pick ‘Em contest for the 2011 New York YC Invitational Cup. Competitors were asked to pick the top five for the regatta. Each competitor’s score was the total of the differences between where he picked a club to finish and where it actually finished. Zero would’ve been a perfect score. Single digits meant you were really on top of your game. The tie breakers were, first, which team scored the most race wins, and second, which team finished last. Stay tuned, we’ll do it again soon. To see this in a readable size, click “enlarge photo” below. For the second page of results, click here.

With the regatta now underway, the Pick-Em contest entry list has been finalized. To see everyone’s picks, check out this spreadsheet page 1 and page 2. To see the team you voted most likely to win the most races, click here. To see the team you voted most likely to finish last, click here. To view the daily results for the 2011 New York YC Invitational Cup, click here. Good luck! -Ed.

CONTEST UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 21

So the regatta is over (nice work Royal Canadian YC) and so to is our Pick ‘Em contest. It was surprisingly close at the top. In fact, first place came down to the second tie breaker. Both Blake Kimbrough and Wes Bemus finished with seven points, which means they were off by an average of 1.4 spots per selection. Not bad. In the first tie breaker both picked teams that won a single race (not a surprise as seven teams won one race in the regatta). In the second tie breaker (which team will finish last) neither of their selections was very close to last, but Kimbrough’s was a shade closer. His choice, the Nyländska Jaktklubben team from Finland (led by Nautor’s Swan CEO Leonardo Ferragamo), finished 12th while Bemus’ Royal Yacht Squadron finished 11th. In this case, the higher number wins. So Blake Kimbrough wins himself a free pair of shoes from Sperry Top-Sider, and a pile of Sailing World swag. Bemus will walk away with some _Sailing World _gear as will third-place finisher Ted Corning, who nailed all of the boats in the top five, but just couldn’t put them in the right order.

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Winning the intra-office competition was Lindsey Nahmias, who was fifth overall. I’m proud to say I was in the top half at 13th, which is more than can be said for my colleagues Dave Reed (29th) and Michael Lovett (44th).

Stay tuned, we plan to do this again soon. And we should have a much more substatial prize list.

A large part of the appeal of the New York YC’s Invitational Cup is that it is a unique event. There are very few, if any, regattas like it.

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Many of the same things that make it unique, however, also make it difficult to predict the teams that will come out on top. The keys a handicapper would use to determine the final standings are largely irrelevant or absent.

Of course, this only makes trying to guess the winners more of a challenge. So we’ve set up a pick ‘em contest for the 2011 Invitational Cup. Call it an attempt at Fantasy Sailing. Hey every other sport has it, why not us?

It’s a fairly simple contest, at least in theory. To enter, click on this link, which will take you to an online survey. Enter your name, email (so we can tell you if you’ve won, or not), and then select the top five finishers in the 2011 Invitational Cup.

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The standings of the pick ‘em competition will be determined by adding up the differences between where you picked a team to finish and where it actually finishes. The best possible score is zero. Were you to get the top five exactly right, your predicted position subtracted from their actual position would be zero for each team. It doesn’t matter whether a team finishes higher or lower than your predicted finish. In either case, it’s just the difference between the two numbers.

We’ve also thrown in a couple of tiebreakers just in case two or more entries end up with the same total.

The prize pack? We’re still working on that. It’ll certainly include some Sailing World gear. Hopefully we’ll have a few other goodies to toss in there as well.

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So that’s pretty easy? I hope so, if not, I probably haven’t explained it well enough. Even if the formula doesn’t make sense, picking the top 5 is easy. Just click on the link above and answer the questions. We’ll handle the heavy mathematical lifting.

As I said above, this is a tough event of handicap. If you’ve got a club you’re rooting for, go ahead and include them in your top five. Why not? There really isn’t much else to go on?

Few of the teams have previously sailed against each other in a Swan 42. Those that did, in July’s Swan 42 Nationals, for example, were using their own sails and rig tuning matrices. For the Invitational Cup, the tuning is standardized for each boat and the sails are supplied—one jib, one main, and one spinnaker. Additionally the strict crew eligibility requirements force many skippers to patch together a team from a list of top sailors in their yacht clubs. The talent is usually there, the familiarity that comes with many days of racing together can be tougher to find.

That said, there are a few things to point out. If you’re looking for a little leg up on your competition, here are a few of my thoughts, which you can take or leave. I sailed in the inaugural Invitational Cup with the New York YC team and also did some superficial research on each team entered in 2011 while writing the program for this year’s regatta.

**Returning Teams: **Many of the teams in the inaugural IC were unprepared for how intense the competition would be, and the level to which the top teams prepared. Many of them regretted not taking their preparation more seriously. The clubs that are returning to this year’s regatta—some with similar crew lineups, some with a mostly new crew—should have some idea what to expect.

The clubs that are competing in the IC for a second time are: Japan Sailing Federation, New York Yacht Club (defending champion), Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (Germany), Nyländska Jaktklubben (Finland), Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (Spain), Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Royal Cork Yacht Club (Ireland), Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club (UK), Royal Yacht Squadron (UK).

Another worthwhile piece of information is whether a team is sailing its own boat, or a boat it received through the lottery. The event in 2009 proved that with identical sail and rig tuning, the Swan 42s are remarkably even. First and second were teams sailing their boat. Third through fifth were in borrowed boats.

However, each boat is a little different in layout and the teams that are bringing a boat to the regatta are likely to have had more time to get familiar with the boat. Teams in this category include: Annapolis Yacht Club (USA), Eastern Yacht Club (USA), Itchenor Sailing Club (UK), New York Yacht Club (USA), Newport Harbor Yacht Club (USA), Nyländska Jaktklubben (Finland), Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Royal Canadian Yacht Club

The teams that aren’t on either of these lists are more likely to come into the regatta behind the curve both in terms of the event and the nuances of sailing the Swan 42. But that doesn’t eliminate them from contention. A cohesive team can do a lot with some practice at home in a similar boat, and then the three days of practice each team is allowed before the regatta.

A few other tidbits on individual teams:

Anthony O’Leary brought his Royal Cork team to Newport in 2009 with no previous experience in the Swan 42, and went on to win two of the first three races. O’Leary is back this year and should be in contention.

Nautor’s Swan CEO Leonardo Ferragamo is back after a fourth-place finish in 2009. His Finnish/Italian team for Nyländska Jaktklubben struggled out of the gate, but sailed well down the stretch. This time Ferragamo is bringing his boat to the U.S.—which should give you some idea he means to win. The extra level of comfort that comes from sailing your own boat certainly won’t hurt.

Both Annapolis and Eastern are led by helmsmen (Peter McChesney and Bill Lynn, respectively) with impressive one-design keelboat credentials. Both teams are stacked with their respective club’s best talent. Both teams sailed a number of key regattas this summer. Neither, however, did exceptionally well. Hmmm. With some of the peculiarities of racing the Swan 42 stripped away—sail selection and rig tuning among them—they may find the strict one-design racing of the Invitational Cup more their speed.

Former America’s Cup helmsman Terry McLaughlin brought his trademark intensity to the 2009 Invitational Cup, and came away with second place. You can be sure the Royal Canadian YC crew is bent on improving that result this time around. His team is experienced—it includes some former teammates from the Canada I _and _Canada II Cup campaigns—and has plenty of time in the Swan 42. They are a favorite, if not the favorite.

Jim Madden reportedly purchased a Swan 42 expressly for this regatta. (So if you’re looking for a buffed out Swan 42, that might not be a bad place to start). His Newport Harbor YC team did a handful of regattas this summer and showed some blazing speed despite little previous time in the Swan 42. Madden is no stranger to grand-prix racing, so he and his team aren’t likely to be surprised by the level of competition.

The New York YC won this regatta last time—much to the relief of the host club—but is represented by a new team in 2011. There’s one exception to that. Phil Lotz, who skippered the winning entry in 2009, will serve as tactician for Ken Colburn. The team itself is a medley of Colburn’s longtime crew, a few of Lotz’ regulars, and some other NYYC members. Colburn had numerous moments of brilliance during the 2011 summer season, including winning five of 11 races at the Nationals. At other times he struggled, and occasionally found himself in some rules-related hot water. He escaped unscathed during the Nationals, but Invitational Cup competitors aren’t likely to be as forgiving. Whether he can replicate his speed advantage with the uniform sails is something to watch.

Makoto Uematsu’s team from the Japan Sailing Federation finished third in 2009. Veteran Farr 40 owner Takasi Okura will helm the boat this time around, so this team is likely to have no problem with close quarters racing. The team also has access to Uematsu’s Swan 42 Esmeralda, which is based in Japan.

Mark Watson won the 2008 Swan 42 Nationals aboard Tiburón. But he’s struggled to find that form again in recent years. With Star legend Peter Bromby on board, Watson and the** Royal Bermuda YC** team finished sixth in 2009. Bromby can’t sail this year—no Category 3 sailors are allowed this time around. If Watson’s team has put in the practice time, they could be a factor. I’m not sure that they have, however.

YC Costa Smeralda and YC Italiano did their home country no favors in 2009, finishing last and second to last and leaving behind more than their share of splintered fiberglass. Neither is returning this year, with the Yacht Club Capri and the Yacht Club Punta Ala representing Italy. They would be hard pressed to do any worse. But will they do significantly better? Who knows?

The **Royal Hong Kong YC **team enjoyed the 2009 regatta as much as any other team. This year’s crew is a mix of sailors from 2011, but is being led by skipper Nick Burns and helmsman Patrick Pender, a former sailmaker and a highly sought-after tactician and helmsman in Asia. On paper, they look dangerous.

For more on all the teams, check out the regatta program. You can find full team rosters here. Or just roll the dice. You may find that method just as effective. All entries must be in by 11 a.m. on Tuesday, when the first gun is scheduled to sound.

With the regatta now underway, the Pick-Em contest entry list has been finalized. To see everyone’s picks, check out this spreadsheet page 1 and page 2. To see the team you voted most likely to win the most races, click here. To see the team you voted most likely to finish last, click here. To view the daily results for the 2011 New York YC Invitational Cup, click here. Good luck! -Ed.

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