New York YC Invitational Cup Coverage

The host team hangs on for a win in the inaugural New York YC Invitational Cup, but the Canadian team, among others, didn't make it easy.

****| |****| Quick Links:
Official Website (Results, Schedule, Etc.)
Video by Gary Jobson
The How and Why of the NYYC IC
More on the NYYC Swan 42

Team Profiles
New York Yacht Club
St. Francis Yacht Club
Royal Ocean Racing Club
Royal Thames Yacht Club
Royal Yacht Squadron
Japan Sailing Federation
Yacht Club Italiano
Real Club Nautico de Barcelona
The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda
Royal Danish Yacht Club
Nylandska Jaktklubben
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club
Royal Canadian Yacht Club
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club
Royal Cork YC
Royal St. George Yacht Club
Yacht Club de France
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Norddeutscher Regatta Verein

October 21, 2009


A one-hour special on the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is scheduled to air on this Sunday, October 25, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern (5:00 pm Pacific) on ESPN2.

Presented by Rolex, the program is produced by Emmy award-winning producer Gary Jobson and features highlights from racing among 19 teams from 14 nations as well as interviews with participants and side stories about Newport, Rhode Island.

September 22, 2009


Stuart Streuli| |**It was a cool morning for a parade last Saturday, when the 19 teams competing in the New York YC Invitational Cup took a lap of the inner harbor before heading out for the final two races. But nearly everything associated with the event, it went off without a hitch, and exceeded expectations. **|

The Smell of Victory

Moments after we tied up to the New York YC’s dock Saturday afternoon-the commodore having given us permission to bring the boat there as opposed to the mooring-someone handed down a pair of oversized bottles of champagne.


“I’ll take that,” said tactician Ken Read, grabbing one of the bottles around the neck and immediately starting to work on the foil wrapper.

After a successful lap of the planet on Puma Ocean Racings il mostro-not to mention a career’s worth of wins in all kinds of regattas-Read has had plenty of experience with champagne celebrations. He knows well the golden rule of these affairs. The best way to limit how much champagne gets sprayed on you-as we would soon find out, it stings when it gets in your eyes-is to make sure you’re the one doing the spraying.

After a TV interview with Gary Jobson, Read popped open the bottle of bubbly, placed his thumb over the top and shook vigorously. Whatever was left once the carbonation dissipated, Read poured over the head of Wendy Lotz, the wife of skipper Phil Lotz.


“Ah man,” said Chris Lotz, one of Phil and Wendy’s two sons and the team’s mastman, shaking the champagne out of his hair. “Now we’re going to smell like champagne for the rest of the afternoon.”

Read shook his head. “That,” he said with a big smile, “is the smell of victory. I love that smell.”

For a group of career amateur sailors, getting hosed down with some of France’s finest by one of the world’s best sailors is a pretty thrilling experience. It was also a big relief. The New York YC invested a lot of effort to make the competition in it’s inaugural Invitational Cup as fair as possible. However, there were still high expectations heaped upon the home team. Lotz is the defending class champ with three years of hard sailing in the New York YC Swan 42 and Read, well, few people have sailed more races on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay. While no one would say anything of the sort before the regatta, I think we all knew that anything other than first, second, or third would’ve been regarded as a big disappointment.And the latter two wouldn’t have exactly been cause for celebration.

Fortunately, neither Read nor Lotz was willing to rest on their laurels. We had seven practices before the regatta, and we worked hard during each one. For the last two days before the regatta, Read assured us numerous times that we’d have a short practice, that he didn’t want to burn anybody out on the even of such a big event. We were one of the last boats off the water each day.

The result was a team loaded with confidence. As the jib trimmer, I’d never felt more secure in my ability to do my job. And I felt the same way about each of my teammates. It was an amazing experience for an amateur sailor who, like many of you I suspect, races a lot and practices very little. At times, watching some of our competition struggle with their boathandling or shifting gears when the windspeed varied, it seemed almost unfair how smoothly we were able to handle the boat, how easily we shifted gears. Almost unfair, however, because I knew how hard we’d worked to perfect each maneuver, to dial in our numbers on the jib settings.

Hopefully, I’ll feel that way again in another regatta. It’s not something that comes easily. But wow is it worth it. With or without the champagne shower.

-Stuart Streuli

September 20, 2009

Regatta Receives High Scores, New York Yacht Club Wins

Newport, R.I., USA (Sept. 19, 2009) – No one knew quite what to expect, even though a year and a half of planning went into getting 19 teams from 14 nations to Newport, R.I., for the inaugural New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. The event, which started on Wednesday (Sept. 16) , and concluded today (Saturday, Sept. 19), was conceived and very well received as a high-profile regatta for amateur yacht club teams. To that end, the New York Yacht Club put forth its best effort not only to host the event but also to field its own team, which won after 11 spectacular races on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay.

The victory was no cake walk for NYYC skipper Phil Lotz and crew, even though they wound up with 11 points on their closest overall competitor, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club with Terry McLaughlin skippering. The Canadians finished second in the first race today and won the second race by a “nautical mile,” but Lotz and crew still had the finish positions (3-2) to win. “We used tactician Ken Read’s (Newport, R.I.) patience in picking wind shifts and the crew’s flawless execution of maneuvers. They were key to the day and were the two things that got us through the regatta,” said Lotz, whose teammates also included his wife Wendy, two sons Chris (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Doug (Columbus Ohio), Blake Kimbrough (Newport R.I.), Byron LaMotte (New York, N.Y.), Tripp Dolman (New York, N.Y.), Rick Merriman (New York, N.Y.), Stuart Streuli (Newport, R.I.) and Brendan Marshall (Newport, R.I.)

Only one Category 3 (or professional) sailor was allowed per team, and Ken Read, most recently credited for his Volvo Ocean Race success, was it for the NYYC team. Read, a NYYC member, was humbled, however, by the equanimity of his teammates. “Lord knows these guys I’m sailing with can get around the track without me,” said Read, pointing out that Rick Merriman, a three-time All American from Navy, is part of the “speed loop” with Lotz that keeps the boat going while allowing Read the luxury of solely focusing on tactics.

“Before every regatta you circle what you think are the top five teams, and there is not a surprise in this top-five group at all,” said Read. As noted, Canada finished second, the Japan Sailing Federation third, Finland’s Nylandska Jaktklubben fourth and Royal Cork Yacht Club fifth.

The conditions were shifty, as they had been for all previous races, but while the wind had whipped in a frenzy all week and even this morning while the sailors left their moorings at Harbour Court for a pre-race Parade of Nations through Newport Harbor, they had moderated to about 10-12 — its weakest all week — by the afternoon.

“I hadn’t thought about if before now, but we really didn’t miss a set, a takedown, a tack or whatever over the four days of racing,” said Lotz at the end of the regatta. “There was no maneuver that didn’t go reasonably well if not perfect. As for Canada, they did great today; we were just lucky enough to still be close enough to them to win.”

While Lotz was talking, Oliver Stanley, a crew member from the Royal Yacht Squadron Team, stopped by to shake his hand. “It was a real pleasure to watch you and your team sail,” said Stanley. He explained that the NYYC team managed to “eek out positions” where he didn’t think they could and sailed not only with fairness but with great friendliness. That, afterall, was an important underpinning of the regatta.

“It’s great sailing against some old friends here,” said McLaughlin, adding with a chuckle, “and some of whom are very good sailors who haven’t sailed a lot lately but still have it.”

With the Canadian team easily maintaining its second-place position from yesterday, it was the Japan Sailing Federation that perhaps fought hardest to stay in third overall. “The points were very close, and we had a chance to get second, but the shifts made it difficult,” said tactician Eiichiro Hamasaki from that team. “In the last race it was mainly in my mind to keep third.” Steering the boat was Takashi Okura, famous for his successful race boats named Sled, and acting as pitman was Makoto Uematsu, famous for his successful race boats named Esmeralda. The two sailors brought together the best of their two teams, and it showed.

Finland’s Nylandska Jaktklubben team was skippered by Leonardo Ferragamo, head of Nautor’s Swan; however today tactician Kenneth Thelen took the helm. In the first race with only a quarter of a leg to go, Finland and Canada were running neck-and-neck but Finland crossed the finish line first. “It’s really great; the boats are so close,” said Thelen about the NYYC Swan 42s being used at the event. (Nautor’s Swan is the manufacturer.) “And sailing in one-design competition is the best.” Thelen added that he, like others in the regatta were amazed by their surroundings. “I never imagined a place like Newport existed in America.”

As for the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s performance, skipper Anthony O’Leary said, “If you had offered us fifth place on the airplane over here, we’d have taken it, because that’s pretty respectable in this fleet.”

Nightly reports, blogs, daily video and results can be found at Live-race tracking by Kattack can be followed at On October 25th at 5 p.m., ESPN2 will air a one-hour special on the event produced by Gary Jobson.

New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup
September 15-19, 2009
Sept. 19: Day 4 of racing, 2 races completed (11 total in the series)
19 teams competing

Final Results

NYYC Swan 42 Yacht Name, Yacht Club Representing (Country), Skipper, Race Finishes, Total points

1. Arethusa, New York Yacht Club (USA), Phil Lotz, 2-4-2-8-6-3-1-10-3-3-2, 44

  1. Daring, Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN), Terry McLaughlin, 1-3-5-1-14-5-10-5-8-2-1, 55

3. Downhill Express, Japan Sailing Federation (JPN), Makoto Uematsu, 7.2-16-3-6-10-2-5-6-4-4-10, 70

4. Better Than, Nylandska Jaktklubben (FIN), Leonardo Ferragamo, 7.2-14-10-4-4-19-6-2-5-1-7-79.2

5. Blazer, Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL), Anthony O’Leary, 3-1-1-13-7-17-2-4-17-11-4, 80.

6. Tiburon, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER), Mark Watson, 5 -5-6-16-8-4-3-13-14-12-9, 95

7. Interlodge, St. Francis Yacht Club (USA), Craig Healy, 12-11-11-2-2-1-7-11-7-15-20, 99

8. Conspiracy, Royal Danish Yacht Club (DEN), Marie Klok Crump, 16-2-18-3-12-16-9-3-10-9-5, 103

9. Celeritas, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (NZL), John Melville, 11-17-15-5-1-6-16-9-13-8-3, 104

10. The Cat Came Back, Royal Ocean Racing Club (GBR), David Aisher, 15-8-4-11-14-10-4-7-15-7-11, 106

11. Impetuous, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (CHN), Jamie McWilliam, 17-12-14-7-5-8-8-19-2-10-13, 115

12. Bandit, Royal St. George Yacht Club (IRL), Michael Cotter, 7-8-16-9-20-11-13-1-9-18-8, 120

13. Mustang ,Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR), John Greenland, 8 -9-7-15-11-9-15-12-11-13-13, 123

14. Quintessence, Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP), Jordi Tarre, 9-6-12-10-15-14-14-14-16-17-6, 133

15. Orbit, Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER), Achim Griese, 6-18-9-18-20-15-19-15-1-5-14, 140

16. Apparition, Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR), Oscar Strugstad, 13-10-13-14-16-12-17-18-12-6-16, 147

17. Hoss, Yacht Club de France (FRA), Bruno Trouble, 10-20-8-17-9-7-11-17-18-16-15, 148

18. Mutiny, Yacht Club Italiano (ITA), Carlo Alessandro Puri Negri, 13.2-15-17-20-3-18-18-8-6-15-20, 154

19. Barleycorn, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (ITA), Vittorio Codecasa, 14-13-20-12-20-13-12-16-19-20-20, 179

Video: Day 4

September 18, 2009

Teams Sort Out Before Tomorrow’s Finale: New York Yacht Club Leads

Newport, R.I., USA (Sept. 18, 2009) – With a third day of competition completed, the 19 teams from 14 nations at the inaugural New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup have sorted themselves on the race course. Among those teams dominating the top five is the New York Yacht Club, which maintained its lead after another four races today on Narragansett Bay where the winds, seemingly in sync with the rhythms of the regatta, moderated to 10-12 knots under brilliantly sunny skies.

We’re striving for consistency,” said NYYC skipper Phil Lotz, who scored a victory today, oddly enough, for the first time in nine races sailed. “It’s tough sailing out there, lots of shifts. We’ve been back in the pack plenty, and we’ve just tried to dig out and finish in the top third – that’s been the game plan.” Lotz explained that when his team has had a less than a stellar start, other teams have been quick to jump on him, and it has been “hard to dig back.”

With two third-place finishes and a tenth to round things out today, the New York Yacht Club has 39 overall points to the 52 carried by the Royal Canadian Yacht Club team, skippered by Terry McLaughlin. After that 13-point spread comes only a four-point spread between the Canadians and the Japan Sailing Federation, with Makoto Uematsu at the helm.

When asked if the New York Yacht Club’s lead was insurmountable, McLaughlin said, “If Phil comes out top five or top seven in the race tomorrow morning to start off with, then he’s looking pretty good. If he keeps a lobster pot on his keel slightly longer than he did today, that may be where the rest of us will have a chance.”
Lotz said he snagged a lobster pot three minutes before the last start and just got off the line at half speed when the gun went off. The fleet also had to heed a tanker here and there throughout the day, but found the benefits of sailing in relatively flat water preferable to sailing in the open ocean, which – but for the conditions this week that have ruled it out — is the Race Committee’s usual first choice for setting courses.

The St. Francis Yacht Club team, sitting in fourth, has a chance to make a play for the top spot tomorrow, but it will have to dig deep, since its point score is 64, and only two races are anticipated. Also, the competition is continually improving, according to the team’s skipper Craig Healy. “From day one to day three I think the boat speed is becoming more similar and the crew work is becoming closer,” said Healy. “The race results showed we had some ups and downs. It’s obvious looking at the results that the racing is not only tight but if you make one mistake, you get flushed. It’s a testament to not only the abilities of the various teams but also to the boats being so close and equalized.”

Only one point behind the California team, in fifth place, is the Royal Cork Yacht Club team, skippered by Anthony O’Leary.

The races are being sailed in identical NYYC Swan 42s, keeping the focus on crew work rather than equipment.
The regatta concludes tomorrow (Sept. 19) after a Parade of Nations through Newport Harbor is carried out at 9 a.m.

Nightly reports, blogs, daily video and results are available at Live-race tracking by Kattack can be followed at . On October 25th at 5 p.m., ESPN2 will air a one-hour special on the event produced by Gary Jobson.

New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup
September 15-19, 2009
Sept. 18: Day 3 of racing, 4 races completed (nine total in the series)
19 teams competing

Preliminary results
Full results posted online:

NYYC Swan 42 Yacht Name, Yacht Club Representing (Country), Skipper, Race Finishes, Total points

1. Arethusa, New York Yacht Club (USA), Phil Lotz, 2-4-2-8-6-3-1-10-3, 39 points

2. Daring, Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN), Terry McLaughlin, 1-3-5-1-14-5-10-5-8, 52

3. Downhill Express, Japan Sailing Federation (JPN), Makoto Uematsu, 4-16-3-6-10-2-5-6-4, 56

4. Interlodge, St. Francis Yacht Club (USA), Craig Healy, 12-11-11-2-2-1-7-11-7, 64

5. Blazer, Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL), Anthony O’Leary, 3-1-1-13-7-17-2-4-17, 65

6. Better Than, Nylandska Jaktklubben (FIN), Leonardo Ferragamo, 8-14-10-4-4-19-6-2-5, 72

7. Tiburon, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER), Mark Watson, 5 -5-6-16-8-4-3-13-14, 74

8. The Cat Came Back, Royal Ocean Racing Club (GBR), David Aisher, 15-8-4-11-14, 10-4-7-15, 88

9. Conspiracy, Royal Danish Yacht Club (DEN), Marie Klok Crump, 16-2-18-3-12-16-9-3-10, 89

10. Impetuous, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (CHN), Jamie McWilliam, 17-12-14-7-5-8-8-19-2, 92

11. Celeritas, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (NZL), John Melville, 11-17-15-5-1-6-16-9-13, 93

12. Bandit, Royal St. George Yacht Club (IRL), Michael Cotter, 7-8-16-9-20-11-13-1-9, 94

13. Mustang ,Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR), John Greenland, 8 -9-7-15-11-9-15-12-11, 97

14. Quintessence, Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP), Jordi Tarre, 9-6-12-10-15-14-14-14-16, 110

15. Hoss, Yacht Club de France (FRA), Bruno Trouble, 10-20-8-17-9-7-11-17-18, 117

16. Mutiny, Yacht Club Italiano (ITA), Carlo Alessandro Puri Negri, 13.1-15-17-20-3-18-18-8-6, 118.1

17. Orbit, Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER), Achim Griese, 6-18-9-18-20-15-19-15-1, 121

18. Apparition, Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR), Oscar Strugstad, 13-10-13-14-16-12-17-18-12, 125

19. Barleycorn, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (ITA), Vittorio Codecasa, 14-13-20-12-20-13-12-16-19, 139

Video: Day 3

September 17, 2009

Captain Comeback

Four races on shifty Narragansett Bay can leave your head spinning and your bones aching. Lord knows mine are. We finished sailing on Day 2 of the Invitational Cup just a few hours ago and I’m already having a hard time remembering which downwind leg followed which run, which missed shift put us in which hole, and which shift we nailed to get us back in the hunt.

At times today, it seemed like our chances of winning the regatta were fading quickly. On board Phil Lotz’ Arethusa, the New York YC’s entry in the regatta, we twice found ourselves in the cheap seats, with just a few boats separating us from dead last. Both times we were able to grind back-once all the way to second. With five of a scheduled 11 races in the books, we find ourselves winning the regatta.

Given the choice, most sailors would prefer to make their mistakes late in a race, when the fleet is spread out and they’re a lot less costly in terms of boats lost. Mistakes made early in the race can allow the entire fleet to sail by and leave you sailing the first beat in the washing machine of dirty air. But there’s an exception to every rule and we proved that today. Whatever mistakes we made, we made early, at the start or on the first leg. While it was more than a little disheartening to look up early in the race and see a fleet’s-worth of transoms, it gave us time to fight back. Of course, it never hurts to have Ken Read calling the shots on the body of water he’s called home for most of his life. When we needed a shift, he was able to sniff one out. When he needed a bit of speed, or a slick jibe-set, the crew able to rise to the occasion.

But, this is no time to start patting ourselves on the back. We could have four races tomorrow and two more on Sunday. And the breeze predictions are for more breeze. Which means I should probably get some sleep.

-Stuart Streuli

Game On: New York Yacht Club Takes the Lead

Newport, R.I., USA (Sept. 17, 2009) – With brisk breezes to propel them, the fleet of 19 teams from 14 nations competing at the inaugural New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup worked it hard in four shifty, somewhat unpredictable races on Narragansett Bay today. Irish eyes were smiling aboard the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s entry when skipper Anthony O’Leary won the first two races of the day, but it was the New York Yacht Club’s team led by skipper Phil Lotz (Newport, R.I./New Canaan, Conn.) that made the move to the top of the scoreboard (from second yesterday) when he played the averages for a score line that never left the single digits. (RCYC rounded out its scores today with a 14-7 to secure third place behind yesterday’s leader the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, skippered by Terry McLaughlin.)

Lotz gave credit to his team and tactician Ken Read (Newport, R.I.), known as one of the best sailors in the world, for a remarkable comeback in the second race that took them from sorry-at the-start to phenomenal-at-the-finish. Having jumped the start gun with three others, the team was called back to clear itself and begin again.
“We had a clean lane at least,” said Lotz, “and were able to work a number of shifts to finish second.” In the last race of the day, when the wind had begged off slightly from its highs of 18-20 knots, Lotz was caught, along with the Canadian team, at the pin end of the start line when the wind went right. “A good jibe-set gained us some boats, and on the last beat we were able to gain some more,” said Lotz, who finished sixth while the Canadians took a 14th.

“It was a classic Newport northerly,” said the Canadian team’s trimmer Geoff Moore, who now lives in Toronto but used to call Newport home. “Everyone had at least one lucky break today; it’s like trading baskets.” Moore made the point that no one is winning all the races and he expects everyone to have a bad race or two, but there are no discard races, so staying on top of the game is key.

With a large spectator fleet at hand, the NYYC Swan 42 one-designs being used for the event sailed “up the Bay.” The windward/leeward courses (twice around), designed to last about an hour, proved perfect for keeping the fleet tight but with ample room for the cream to rise to the top.

“Two miles out in the ocean the fleet tends to separate more,” said Lotz, “but in flat water, the boats are very even, and we’re all going the same speed, so there are lots of opportunities to stay close to your opponents.”

The boat sailed by Royal St. George Yacht Club (IRL) suffered damage today after a collision in the last race. It is expected it will be repaired by tomorrow’s racing.

The Yacht Club Italiano and Nylandska Jaktklubben (FIN) teams both received average points for yesterday’s single race after being awarded redress for their failed jibs. The Italian team, skippered by Carlo Puri Negri currently sits in 12th place, while the Finnish team, skippered by Leonardo Ferragamo, is in sixth.

The regatta continues through Saturday (Sept. 19) when a Parade of Nations through Newport Harbor will precede the final races.

New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup
September 15-19, 2009
Sept. 16: Day 2 of racing, 4 races completed (five total in the series)
19 teams competing

Preliminary results
Full results posted online:

NYYC Swan 42 Yacht Name, Yacht Club Representing (Country), Skipper, Race 1-R2-R3-R4-R5, Total points

1. Arethusa, New York Yacht Club (USA), Phil Lotz, 2-4-2-8-6, 22 points
2. Daring, Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN), Terry McLaughlin, 1-3-5-1-14, 24
3. Blazer, Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL), Anthony O’Leary, 3-1-1-14-7, 26
4. Interlodge, St. Francis Yacht Club (USA), Craig Healy, 12-11-11-2-2, 38
5. Downhill Express, Japan Sailing Federation (JPN), Makoto Uematsu, 4-16-3-6-11, 40
6. Better Than, Nylandska Jaktklubben (FIN), Leonardo Ferragamo, 8-14-10-5-4, 41
7. Tiburon, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER), Mark Watson, 5 -5-6-17-8, 41
8. Celeritas, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (NZL), John Melville, 11-18-15-5-1, 50
9. Mustang ,Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR), John Greenland, 8 -9-7-16-12, 52
10. Conspiracy, Royal Danish Yacht Club (DEN), Marie Klok Crump, 16-2-19-3-13, 53
11. The Cat Came Back, Royal Ocean Racing Club (GBR), David Aisher, 15-8-4-12-15, 54
12. Mutiny, Yacht Club Italiano (ITA), Carlo Alessandro Puri Negri, 11-15-17-9-3, 55
13. Quintessence, Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP), Jordi Tarre, 9-6-13-11-16, 55
14. Impetuous, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (CHN), Jamie McWilliam, 17-12-16-7-5, 57
15. Hoss, Yacht Club de France (FRA), Bruno Trouble, 10-17-8-18-9, 62
16. Bandit, Royal St. George Yacht Club (IRL), Michael Cotter, 7-8-18-10-20, 63
17. Barleycorn, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (ITA), Vittorio Codecasa, 14-13-14-13-10, 64
18. Apparition, Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR), Oscar Strugstad, 13-10-14-15-17, 69
19. Orbit, Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER), Achim Griese, 6-19-9-19-20, 73

Video: Day 2

September 16, 2009

Lots of Questions Still to Be Answered

Come Saturday evening, when this event is done and dusted, and the 200-odd sailors have struggled back into the coat and ties for the closing cermony, I have a feeling that one of the strong contenders to win the party will be the team from the Royal Hong Kong YC. After a long schedule of practices and racing, I could see doing a lot worse than to spend the evening carousing with the team-mostly ex-pats, by the sound of their accents-from China. Or maybe I should say a lot better. I guess it depends on your perspective.

While I’m sure there was a fair bit of hyperbole involved, it sounds like they enjoy the nights in Hong Kong about as much as the days. Nonetheless, and despite their 17th today-and the generous dollop of self-deprecation with which they discussed the race-I wouldn’t be surprised to see them up toward the sharp end of the results toward by the end of the regatta. They looked much stronger during the practice races.

The first few races of a regatta such as the New York YC Invitational Cup, where so little is known about each team, are often a bit of a research project. Teams are eager to find out where they stand in the pecking order, who is fast, who they should avoid in close quarters, who’s likely to stick to the letter of the rules, and who’s likely to wave across a close cross. Throw in 20 knots, a lumpy sea, a 30-degree left shift on the first beat, and a rash of gear breakdowns that limited the fleet to one race, and it’s safe to say that much of what we’d hoped to learn on Day 1 will have to discovered on Day 2. There were too many variables to draw too many conclusions from one race.

Dan Nerney/New York YC| |The Royal Canadian YC entry, with Terry McLaughlin calling tactics, won Race 1 of the New York YC Invitational Cup.| We had a good race, finishing second. We hung in a tough lane off the starting line as long as we could and then were able to tack on the shift at the right time and put the bow down toward the mark. Any hesitation on our part would’ve been costly. St Francis YC, which will be a top contender, did not have a memorable race. Neither did the Hong Kong team. The Canadian team, led by former Cup helmsman Terry McLaughlin won the race by picking the correct side at the bottom of the first run. The team from the Royal Cork YC looked strong finishing third, as did the Japanese team in fourth, and Mark Watson’s Royal Bermuda YC team in fifth. We’ll expect all those teams to vie for the overall honors. But that group could well grow as some of the teams that struggled today find their feet.

After hitting a home run at the opening ceremony, the Invitational Cup ran into a few speed bumps today. While people often lampoon any type of wind limits, for an event like this, with borrowed boats and all-purpose sails, it’s essential. A least two jibs failed during the first race, and more were on their way. The regatta’s technical committee worked way harder than any of the sailors today trying to keep the day alive. But with the wind hitting into the low to mid 20s, even inside Narragansett Bay, the wise decision was to head for the harbor and try again tomorrow. The forecast for tomorrow is for more of the same, though perhaps not as strong. As the breeze dies the racing will invariably become more competitive.

-Stuart Streuli

Video: Day 1. Gary Jobson’s report from the first day of racing includes onboard footage from Arethusa.

Royal Canadian Yacht Club Leads After Abbreviated Day

Newport, R.I., USA (Sept. 16, 2009) – The Royal Canadian Yacht Club (RCYC) won today’s opening race in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup and was pre-empted from showing its prowess in a second race when sailing had to be abandoned due to wind and technical difficulties. The race, sailed in lumpy seas and an 18-knot easterly on Rhode Island Sound, started the regatta off with lots of action, as the Canadian boat, helmed by Terry McLaughlin, battled most closely with the New York Yacht Club, Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL) and Japan Sailing Federation for best position between the start and the first mark two miles to windward.

“Japan (with Makoto Uematsu steering) had the best start,” said McLaughlin “and we had a good lane, but a huge left shift made us overstand the mark. There were boats farther to our left, but the Japanese were not as affected and rounded first.” The Canadians passed the Japanese team on the run to round the bottom mark first and carried their lead to the finish. New York (Phil Lotz of New Canaan, Conn./Newport, R.I., skippering), Royal Cork (Anthony O’Leary skippering), and the Japan Sailing Federation finished second, third, and fourth, respectively, with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (Mark Watson skippering) rounding out the top five.

The Yacht Club Italiano’s skipper Carlo Puri Negri could have been happier at the end of the day. As it was, shortly after the start, the stitching at the head of his jib failed, causing the webbing to pull from the sail and render it useless. He was sitting in fourth, he said, at the time of the mishap. “We sailed the rest of the race with just a mainsail,” said Puri Negri. The same thing happened to the Nylandska Jaktklubben team (FIN), with Leonardo Ferragamo at the helm, and the jibs were promptly rushed to shore and repaired while the fleet moved from “outside” on the Sound to an “inside” course on northern Narragansett Bay where the waters are more protected.

“While the fleet waited for the second race to start, the wind increased to 22 knots,” said Swan 42 Class President Paul Zabetakis, explaining that this is the limit for constant winds in this regatta in accordance with the NOR, “Another jib had failed in the meantime, and that, coupled with the sustained wind strength, made it clear the racing needed to be abandoned.

“To North’s credit, they jumped right on the situation to fix the first two jibs, and tonight they will rework all the jibs so that racing can get underway again tomorrow,” said Zabetakis.

The regatta continues through Saturday (Sept. 19) when a Parade of Nations through Newport Harbor will precede the final races to determine the winner and will showcase the 19 teams from 14 countries competing here.

Nightly reports, blogs, daily video and results are available at __. Live-race tracking by Kattack can be followed at __. On October 25th at 5 p.m., ESPN2 will air a one-hour special on the event produced by Gary Jobson.

September 15, 2009

“What do you mean the regatta hasn’t started yet?”

There are many ways to rank regattas. I tend favor a slightly materialistic system-the amount of free gear stuff distributed to the participants-but there are plenty of other equally as reliable methods: You could count the amount of effort put in by the host club, the number of Olympic and America’s Cup veterans participating, the number of countries participating, the number of boats, the list of foreign commodores in attendance, the number of cannons fired during the opening ceremonies, the number of magnums of Moet & Chandon personally delivered by Bruno Trouble, etc. The list is practically endless. Yet no matter the units on the measuring stick, the New York YC Invitational Cup will score pretty high.

Stuart Streuli| |Before the first day of practice races for the New York YC Invitation Cup on Monday, New York YC team tactician Ken Read makes a key last-minute modification to Phil Lotz’ Arethusa, a holder for his grease pencil.| Take, for example, practice days. Today was the seventh day of dedicate practice for Phil Lotz’ New York YC entry in the regatta. And that doesn’t include the two days washed out by a tropical storm a few weeks back. It’s been a long time since I practiced this much for any competition. I hope this doesn’t sound as if I’m complaining. As I noted in my first entry, some practices were better than others. But we needed every one. Each day on the boat has provided us with valuable lessons, made me a better sailor, and brought us together as a team.

And we’re not alone. Most of the teams were out sailing as soon as their charters started on Sunday and many came having sailed a NYYC Swan 42, or something similar, back home to practice and gel the team. The practice races over the last two days were a bit of a mixed bag. But there’s no doubt there are plenty of talented sailors and teams in attendance.

Given Lotz’ time and experience in the NYYC Swan 42, and the fact we’re sailing on tactician Ken Read’s home turf, there’s more than a little bit of pressure and expectations on the home team. The club is eager for every visiting sailor to enjoy this event to the fullest, and go home thinking about how they can win it the next time around. You’d have to have on some pretty thick blinders to miss that.

Which, of course, brings us back to the practice days. I have to admit, I didn’t expect such a rigorous schedule when I signed up. But, now that we’re about to light this candle, so to speak-in the fresh nor’easter currently pushing across Narragansett Bay, no less-I appreciate all the effort we’ve already put it. It makes me feel as confident as I’ve ever felt going into a sailing regatta. And it makes more excited than ever to see how things turn out.

-Stuart Streuli

_A Magnificent Show About to Begin _

Newport, R.I., USA** (Sept. 15, 2009) – Seemingly overnight, the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court facility has transformed into an international village teeming with hundreds of people, including sailors from 14 nations who have arrived to compete in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup.

“It’s obvious that a lot of work has gone into this,” said Craig Healy, a Soling world champion who will skipper the St. Francis Yacht Club’s team. “It’s very well organized.” With a Wednesday (Sept. 16) through Saturday (Sept. 19) racing schedule, most of the 19 teams – all of which represent yacht clubs and have adhered to strict guidelines for crew composition — checked in this past weekend, attended a Swan 42 Performance Symposium, and began practicing on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound on the course once used for America’s Cup races when the New York Yacht Club last hosted that contest here in 1983.

By Monday, a 7900 sq. ft. tent and another at least half its size had been erected on the lower half of the yacht club’s sprawling lawn, famous for its gloriously steep sweep down to the Newport harbor front. In the smaller of the tents, where post-racing hospitality had already started, sponsor Sperry Top-Sider, known for inventing the world’s first boat shoe, was busy outfitting every sailor with a new pair of its “Ventus” model shoes and happily servicing a steady stream of visitors who were checking out the merchandise at Sperry’s “Beach Cottage.”

“I have had many of these,” said Bruno Trouble, pointing to his own pair of traditional leather Sperry boat shoes on his feet, “but now I will try these!” Trouble, a name familiar to those with America’s Cup knowledge, will be skippering the entry from Yacht Club de France. He and other helmsmen, tacticians, mainsail trimmers and the like sat attentively during post-practice debriefs where notable U.S. sailors such as Steve Benjamin, Brad Read and Gary Jobson gave tips, reviewed tactics and imparted local knowledge to the visitors. And since the NYYC supplied every boat with an identical suit of sails, Tom Castiglione (representing North Sails, which made the mains and jibs) and Farley Fontenot (representing Quantum Sails, which made the spinnakers) were on hand as well to share their own tips for getting the most out of the identical NYYC Swan 42s that will be raced.

“Every rig has been tuned exactly the same,” said Paul Zabetakis, president of the Swan 42 class and chair of the impressive Technical Committee that has been formed to oversee every aspect of boat detail, “and with the sails absolutely matched, these boats will be more level than they ever have been since the fleet’s formation.” Event Chair John Mendez added that the sailors also have access to PredictWind, which enables every sailor to have equal wind and marine forecast information. “I don’t know how much more equal we can get,” said Mendez.

Since the NYYC owns the suits of sails and plans to use them again in two years for the second running of this event, it took the liberty of emblazing them with the event’s logo and clear identification of each team so spectators can root for their favorite entries. And spectators don’t even have to be in Newport to follow the action. At 11 a.m. on each racing day, they can log on to Kattack for “Live Race Tracking” (__), which according to Kattack representative Mark Fortin is not only entertainment for those who can’t be on the race course watching but also a performance report for the sailors, who will be able to view the day’s happenings on a big screen under the hospitality tent. “It is not a new system, as Kattack is used regularly at many regattas,” said Fortin, “but this is the first time we’ve made it live so you can see what’s happening second-by-second on the race course.”

By the time a Parade of Nations takes place this Saturday (Sept. 19) on Newport Harbor, it will be clear which teams have the most talent going into the finals that follow, and certainly many friendships will have been forged, despite some language barriers that are evident with a quick tour of the club grounds. “We made a bet with Ken Read (tactician aboard the New York Yacht Club’s team) that if we beat him today in the practice race, he buys us beers,” said Kazuhiro Takatsuki, from the Japan Sailing Federation Team, in his best English. At the end of the day, however, it was the other way around. “We buy beers for his team!” said Takatsuki, laughing.

One local sailor will have an experience of a lifetime when he sails with the Yacht Club Italiano team. Platt Johnson, who was filling in for practices on the Royal Danish Yacht Club’s team while they awaited the arrival of a crew member, was asked to sail for real on the Italian team when one of its crew members had a family emergency and couldn’t make it at all. “I can’t wait,” said Johnson, who qualifies to sail as one of two crew members who don’t have to be from the competing yacht club or hold passports from the nation it represents. “And I’ll probably learn a little Italian along the way!”

Nightly reports, blogs, daily video and results will be available at __. On October 25th at 5 p.m. a one-hour ESPN2 show about the event will air.

September 11, 2009

“Right now, we’re a middle-of-the-fleet team.”

With that quote, our third full-team practice for the 2009 New York YC Invitational Cup came to a close. Without any context, it’s hard to know whether this was positive or negative note on which to end. Suffice to say, the clipped rhythm with which this statement was delivered-by Volvo Ocean Race skipper Ken Read-did not buoy the spirits of anyone on board. We’d not had a good practice-in 3 to 6 knots of wind, no less. We knew it. But hearing such a frank assessment from such a qualified source drove it home, like a splinter under your fingernail.

In mid-July, Phil Lotz won the 2009 New York YC Swan 42 National Championships off Newport, R.I. With that win, he earned the right to represent the host club in the inaugural Invitational Cup. It’s an honor that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The club is throwing a tremendous amount of effort toward this trophy. It’s also worth noting, the last time the New York YC created a trophy for yacht clubs of foreign nations they held it for 132 years, and I don’t recall the club being too happy to part with it.

Rodrigo Meireles| |Phil Lotz’ team on Arethusa practiced for the New York YC Invitational Cup by taking a class win in the Conanicut YC’s Round the Island Race on Sept. 6.|

I raced against Lotz in the Nationals, finishing third onboard Alex Jackson’s Amelia. Ken’s younger brother Brad was our tactician. Despite the fact that Brad spent a good portion of the regatta pointing out my shortcomings as a jib trimmer-or so it seemed-I can’t think of any other way that my name would’ve have been thrown into the mix. I’m tempted to ask why I was invited to join Lotz’ crew for the Invitational, but somewhat worried that the response might be: “The other nine people on the list ahead of you couldn’t make it.” Or “Hmm, that’s a good question. On second thought, maybe we should revisit that decision.”

So I’ve tried to keep my head down and focus on my job. For this event, that’s getting the most out of a jack-of-all-trades jib. Normally we sail the NYYC Swan 42 with four jibs: a light, medium, heavy, and No. 4. For this regatta we get one, which we think will be about the size of the heavy jib, with the slightly fuller shape of the medium.

To practice-we won’t receive the regatta sails until Saturday-we’ve been sailing with a heavy jib and a medium-air rig setting, even in the lightest of winds. It’s been an education for sure, trying to get power out of such a flat sail. And to be honest, that’s probably the best part. I’m sure to come out of this event a better sailor. But a thick skin is essential. Ken Read doesn’t mince words. If it’s wrong, he’ll tell you, as he did Monday around noon.

Fortunately for us, we’ve got four more practice days to get it right. The first race is on Wednesday. I’ll be posting here my perspective on a regular basis to complement the photos and official releases. Stay tuned.

Before I go, however, let me stress that sailing with Ken isn’t all gloom and doom. Last Sunday, to mix up our practice a bit we competed in the Conanicut YC’s annual end-of-the-season race around Conanicut Island. Being among the fastest boats in the regatta, we started last and were passing boats nearly all the way to the finish-only a Cookson 50 finished ahead of us on elapsed time.

Throughout the first leg, which was largely and upwind, starboard-tack fetch along the eastern shore of the island, Ken kept up a monologue that went something like this:

“Hey Wendy is that a Pearson Flyer up ahead? Didn’t your family own one of those back in the day?

“OK, Phil, you’re next goal is to get by that Pearson. You think you can do it? I don’t know, he looks pretty aggressive, pretty tough. He’s not going to like getting passed. He’s going to come after you.

“Wendy were you at that first Block Island Race Week? When we sailed the Pearson Flyer? Moose McClintock and I, we were part of the Pearson factory team. Wow. That fact that any of us are still alive is amazing.

“Wendy, did your Pearson Flyer have that brown-and-orange color scheme?

“Hey alright, you got past the Pearson. Nice work. I wasn’t sure he was going to let us by [note here that the crew on the Pearson, which was sailing with a single reef and 10-year-old Dacron sails, was almost entirely under the age of 10]. Good job keeping your lane clean. Hey, is than an Ericson 27 up ahead…”

-Stuart Streuli

September 9, 2009

Welcome to SW’s New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup coverage. The event begins on September 15. Check back for photos, blogs by Stuart Streuli (who is sailing aboard the New York YC entry Arethusa), and videos by SW editor at large Gary Jobson.

About the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup

In 2008, NYYC Commodore Charles H. Townsend announced the inaugural New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, an invitational fleet-racing regatta, scheduled to take place September 15-19, 2009. Its essence is to bring together amateur yacht club teams to compete against teams from around the world. The sailing will be tough and demanding, allowing each club to demonstrate the skills of its top sailors.

Commodore Townsend remarked, “This event will once again bring the Corinthian spirit to the forefront of the sport and enable us to share the excitement of sailing on the waters of Rhode Island Sound.”

Invitations were sent to many of the world’s most prominent yacht clubs to compete in this first biennial event, to be held at Harbour Court, the NYYC’s on-the-water clubhouse in Newport, R.I.

The NYYC Invitational Cup is for Corinthian (amateur) sailors representing their yacht clubs and their nations. Said Commodore David K. Elwell Jr., “This is a unique opportunity for team development around the world, and we anticipate seeing many leading young sailors competing for this magnificent trophy and enjoying the chance to race at one of the pre-eminent yacht clubs.”

Racing on Rhode Island Sound will utilize the newly developed NYYC Swan 42 fleet-the eighth one-design class created by the NYYC since 1905.

Prizes will be awarded to the top-three teams, and the winning yacht club’s name will be engraved on the NYYC Invitational Cup, donated by former commodore Robert L. James and former NYYC trustee Charles A. Robertson, that will be permanently on display at New York Yacht Club’s 44th Street Clubhouse in Manhattan.