New York YC Invitational Cup: Team Profiles

History and crew biographies for all 19 teams competing in the event.

September 9, 2009


New York Yacht Club
New York, USA

John Cox Stevens and eight other progressive New York yachtsmen founded the New York Yacht Club in 1844. In 1898, member J. Pierpont Morgan donated three lots on West 44th Street in New York to build a new clubhouse. The club acquired Harbour Court in Newport, R.I., the former summer home of commodore John Nicholas Brown, in 1987; it serves as an on-the-water clubhouse. The club was the keeper of the America’s Cup from 1851 to 1983.

Skipper: Phil Lotz
Yacht: Arethusa


Phil and Wendy Lotz’s Arethusa earned the New York Yacht Club’s berth in the Invitational Cup after emerging as the top boat in an elimination series comprised of two summer regattas: the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex and the NYYC Swan 42 National Championship. In testimony to its hard-earned accomplishment, Arethusa won the 20-boat Nationals on the final day.

“We are pleased and proud to be representing New York Yacht Club,” says Phil Lotz, who will enlist wife Wendy and son Doug on the boat’s 10-person team. “The team has been sailing together since January, and [the Invitational] was a stated objective of the program. Although we had to make some key crew changes to sail the qualifying events, everyone on and off the boat contributed to the effort.”

To further bolster his squad for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, Lotz slotted Ken Read into the tactician’s role. Read spent the last two years with the Volvo Ocean Race as skipper of the Puma Ocean Racing campaign (finishing second overall), but he’s no stranger to the waters of Rhode Island Sound, where the races will be contested.


Looking at the lineup for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, Phil Lotz says, “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 sharp and tough to beat.”

St. Francis Yacht Club
San Francisco, USA

The St. Francis Yacht Club was founded in 1927. Through the years, the club served the sport, and it anchored yachting on San Francisco Bay. The club, which is situated on San Francisco Bay, just east of the Golden Gate, inaugurated its Perpetual Trophy Regatta in 1963, and this annual September gathering-the Rolex Big Boat Series-is its signature event.


Skipper: Craig Healy
Yacht: Interlodge

According to St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore John McNeill, the club’s decision to participate in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup was unanimous. The club promptly assembled a team with one-design racing experience. At the top of the roster is skipper Craig Healy, a dentist by trade, but one with a Soling World Championship title to his credit. Called “one of the best amateur helmsmen in the world,” his driving skills are in demand by top one-design programs.

Alongside Healy on the chartered NYYC Swan 42 Interlodge will be two notable tacticians: U.S. Olympian Russ Silvestri and U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Jeff Madrigali. Other crewmembers include John Callahan, John Collins, Joe McCoy, Matt Noble, Chris Perkins, and Chris Smith. Noble fulfills the club’s goal of incorporating a junior sailor on the team. “It’s an extraordinary event and we are honored to be invited,” says Commodore McNeill. “We see this regatta as something that will have a long history. We expect to arrive and be competitive. It’s going to be fun. The Scandinavian and European clubs are very serious from what I’ve heard, and they are coming to show their force. Sailing is a much more broadly popular sport in Europe and Scandinavia than here in the States. For them, it’s national pride. For us, it’s pride of club.”


Royal Ocean Racing Club
London, England

The Royal Ocean Racing Club, founded in 1925, is the principal organizer of offshore yacht races in the United Kingdom. The RORC was founded to encourage long-distance yacht racing, and the design, building, and navigation of sailing vessels in which speed and seaworthiness are combined. Among the races it organizes are the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Caribbean 600 in Antigua.

Skipper: David Aisher
Yacht: The Cat Came Back

“We have entered the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup as the event promises to be both competitive and fun and will give us all the chance to meet members of other influential yacht clubs from around the world,” says Royal Ocean Racing Club past commodore David Aisher. “Sailing in Newport, with the professional level of race management the club is known for, has the makings of being an event not to be missed. We are all very much looking forward to taking part and to representing our club.”

Aisher will skipper the club’s entry with current commodore Andrew McIrvine serving as trimmer. Other crewmembers are RORC admiral Chris Little, Chris Fry, Steve Thorpe, Jonathan Goring, and Eddie Warden-Owen.

Royal Thames Yacht Club
London, England

Established in 1775, the Royal Thames Yacht Club is the oldest royal yacht club in the United Kingdom. Among many other events, the club still runs the Cumberland Cup, the world’s oldest sporting trophy, as a biennial team-racing event. The club also takes part in the organization of Cowes Week.

Skipper: John Greenland
Yacht: Mustang

“Since hearing about the Invitational Cup, I’ve always imagined it to be a fantastic event, providing the opportunity to compete against some of the best Corinthian sailors the world has to offer,” says John Greenland, who will skipper the Royal Thames Yacht Club’s entry. “Looking at the United Kingdom’s teams alone, it’s quite clear my expectations will be met-Eddie Warden-Owen calling the shots for Royal Ocean Racing Club sets the bar pretty high, and there are many other teams for us to worry about.”

Other crew members representing the Royal Thames Yacht Club are Andrew Collins, Lizzie Vickers, Doug Harckham, Jon Blackburn, Nick Hornby, rear commodore John Dallimore, Jamie Houston, Sammy Evans, and Simon Morris.

“The Royal Thames Yacht Club, as one of the oldest clubs in the world, is looking forward to taking its place amongst other senior clubs in Rhode Island,” says Houston. “New York Yacht Club is known for its hospitality off the water and its competitiveness on it. This, combined with the chance to race against such a great collection of sailors from other leading clubs around the world, is an opportunity not to be missed. We can’t wait to get on the water and start racing.”

Royal Yacht Squadron
Isle of Wight, England

The Royal Yacht Squadron is the most prestigious yacht club in the United Kingdom. Its clubhouse is located in Cowes Castle on the Isle of Wight. The club’s patron is Queen Elizabeth II, and its admiral is Prince Philip, who is also a former club commodore. There is a long and interesting history of collaboration between the Royal Yacht Squadron and the New York Yacht Club.

Skipper: Oscar Strugstad
Yacht: Apparition

The Royal Yacht Squadron does not take any international competition lightly, and it comes as no surprise that they have culled a team rich with talent for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, from which they intend to carry home the silverware and be the first to engrave their club’s name on the Cup.

Oscar Strugstad, an Etchells 22 world champion (2007), will skipper the team’s entry, with assistance from Mike Ewart-Smith, Geoffrey Stocker, and Dries van der Laan, serving as tactician, main trimmer, and trimmer, respectively. Other crewmembers include Graham Simpson, Oliver Stanley, Rupert Syme, Charlie Sichel, Laetitia Campbell, John Dare, and Tony Singer (shore manager).

Royal Yacht Squadron commodore, The Lord Iliffe, is extremely positive about the initiative, as well as his team’s chances of success. “The Royal Yacht Squadron congratulates the New York Yacht Club on initiating this very special inter-club regatta and is delighted to be taking part along with many other yacht clubs from around the world,” he says. “We will be following the progress of our entry closely. The New York Yacht Club are legendary hosts, and the event promises to be a highlight of the 2009 racing calendar.”

As team manager for the Squadron’s entry, John Dare is equally upbeat. “We are most attracted by the Corinthian nature of the event,” he says, “particularly as we do not have any Category 3 crewmembers. Nevertheless, we have put together a keen team of experienced amateurs and we all look forward to a great competition.”

Japan Sailing Federation
Tokyo, Japan

Founded in 1875, the Japan Sailing Federation is an organization with two different purposes: serving as sailing’s national authority in Japan and an ocean-racing yacht club. Among the events it hosts are the Oshima Race (since 1951), Pearl Race (since 1960), Japan Cup (since 1985), and the Melbourne-Osaka Doublehanded Race (since 1987). The Federation challenged for the America’s Cup as the Nippon Challenge in 1992.

Skipper: Makoto Uematsu
Yacht: Downhill Express

The Japan Sailing Federation’s team is comprised of two championship programs headed by successful one-design sailors, Makoto Uematsu and Takashi Okura. Both are familiar with Newport and conditions on Rhode Island Sound, having competed many times in New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta and Race Week at Newport, both presented by Rolex. In 2006, Okura’s Farr 40 Sled won its class at Race Week and then won the Farr 40 North Americans.

Uematsu has campaigned his NYYC Swan 42 Esmeralda since 2007, when it debuted at Key West Race Week with a IRC class win. His longtime crewmates Kazuhiro Takatsuki, Matsukichi Nishikawa, Manabu Yoshida, and Eiichiro Hamasaki will join with Okura and his frequent crew Masahiro Ogawa, Kenichi Nakamura, Hideki Wakayama, and Toshiro Honda, the team captain. Ogawa, Yoshida, and Honda have sailed together for many years and were part of the Nippon Challenge for the America’s Cup.

Honda, a frequent personality on the World Match Racing Tour, says the team is focused on finishing in the top five. “We have trained on Uematsu-san’s Swan 42 in Japan,” says the former America’s Cup mainsail trimmer. “We look forward to sailing against the world’s top yacht club teams.”

Yacht Club Italiano
Genoa, Italy

Along with a group of sailing enthusiasts that included Italy’s King Umberto I, Vittorio Augusto Vecchi founded Yacht Club Italiano in 1879. The following year, the club’s inaugural regatta drew 177 boats and helped establish a legacy of promoting the sport, organizing national and international regattas and cruises, and educating young sailors. More recently, Yacht Club Italiano has sponsored America’s Cup syndicate Luna Rossa Challenge.

Skipper: Carlo A. Puri Negri
Yacht: Mutiny

The proud racing tradition of Yacht Club Italiano suffuses the team it has assembled for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. Skipper Carlo A. Puri Negri, vice president of Pirelli Group, is the owner and helmsman of Atalanta II, which has achieved great success on the Mini Maxi circuit. Negri’s Farr 70 dominated the 2005 Rolex Middle Sea Race, taking line honors and first overall, and won its class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in 2006 and 2007. Other Atalanta II crewmembers joining Negri for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup include his 16-year-old son, Tadzio, who will serve as tailer, pitman Pierangela Casarico, who raced in the 1998 ARC, and tailer Elio Petracchi, who, in 1995, won both the Admiral’s Cup and the ILC 40 World Championships sailing Brava Q8 with Francesco de Angelis, Paul Cayard, Rod Davis, and Torben Grael.

Petracchi is one of two crewmembers bringing America’s Cup experience to the Yacht Club Italiano team. He served as pitman aboard the 12-Meter Italia, which was one of 13 challengers that competed in the 1986-1987 Louis Vuitton Cup. Nicolo Reggio, who will be calling tactics during the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, is another Cup veteran, having served as mainsail trimmer aboard the 12-Meter Azzura for its 1983 and 1987 campaigns.

One obvious asset Yacht Club Italiano sailors bring to the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is considerable experience racing NYYC Swan 42s. Reggio competes in the class’s Mediterranean circuit aboard Cuordileone; as does navigator Giuseppe Montella. Mainsail trimmer Paulo Pastorino crews aboard rival boat Kora 4, the 2008 NYYC Swan 42 European champion.

The Yacht Club Italiano team is not just a collection of big-boat sailors, however. Mastman Giovanni Clavarino races ORC 40-footers, but the 21-year-old is a Laser sailor at heart. Pitman Giacomo Fossati has made a name for himself in the International 420 class-at press time, he and skipper Nicolo Briante were sitting in fifth place at the 2009 International 420 Class World Championship in Lake Garda, Italy. The team’s sole female member, Myriam Cutolo, is an accomplished dinghy racer in her own right. She crewed for Elisabetta Saccheggiani in the Women’s 470 at the 2004 Olympics, and the pair later won bronze at the 2005 World University Games. More recently, Cutolo signed on as a tailer for the Ladies First IRC campaign.

Real Club Nautico de Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain

The Real Club Nautico de Barcelona was established in 1879. The flag is a blue burgee with the register ensign of Barcelona of 1845 on the canton and the Royal Arms of Spain from 1759 to 1931 (Charles III to Alphonse XIII) in the center. The Real Club Maritimo de Barcelona and the Real Club Nautico de Barcelona merged in 1902 to form the Real Club Barcelona, but the relationship only lasted until 1909, when they broke apart. Both clubhouses are next to each other on Barcelona’s harbor.

Skipper: Jorge Del Tarre
Yacht: Quintessence

For Jorge Del Tarre, skipper of the team representing Real Club Nautico de Barcelona, the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup ranks amongst the world’s great regattas. “We are proud to be invited and to represent the Real Club Nautico de Barcelona in this important event,” he says. “Of course we hope to do as well as we can, and to enjoy the opportunity of sailing this regatta.”

The team was selected by the Real Club Nautico de Barcelona Sports Committee and includes tactician Alejandro Perez Calzada, owner/skipper of Charisma, an S&S 57. Calzada has competed in the Rolex Middle Sea Race (class win in 2006), the 2008 Newport Bermuda Race (finished fourth), and the Rolex Fastnet Race.

“The crew has been training for several years in international races with Charisma,” says Calzada, referencing crewmembers Jose Manuel Valades, Federico Garcia, Luis Mas, Josep Pujol, Luis Pujol, Francisco Bacquelaine, and Joan Palli.

Since the end of 2007, Charisma has sailed around the world taking part in the most prestigious regattas, such as Antigua Sailing Week, Newport to Bermuda, Transpac, and Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda
Porto Cervo, Italy

What the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda lacks in history-it was founded in 1967 by the Aga Khan IV, Andre Ardoin, Giuseppe Kerry Mentasti, and Luigi Vietti-it more than makes up for in other ways, not the least of which is its impressive facility. In 1977, the club moved to new premises overlooking the Porto Cervo marina, a modern and functional structure ideal for hosting numerous members and the ever-growing regatta calendar.

Skipper: Vittorio Codecasa
Yacht: Barlycorn

This September will be one of the busiest on record for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda on the Italian isle of Sardinia. There’s the Perini Navi Cup and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup-which will bring unprecedented tonnage into the cozy harbor-followed by the final leg of the Audi Melges 20 Sailing Series and then the Audi Melges 32 World Championship.

It’s a string of events that will test the club’s race management team and its hospitality and dock staff. As for the club’s sailing skills, those will be on trial too, but 3,000 miles away.

“The New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is a wonderful opportunity for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. We are very pleased to participate in an event of such a high level,” says skipper Vittoria Codecasa. “The fact that all of the participants will be amateurs, and the number of top clubs competing, means that this regatta represents a sort of world championship for yacht clubs.”

While he doesn’t have a tremendous amount of experience with the NYYC Swan 42, Codecasa is quite familiar with the brand-he’s a Swan 45 owner and president of the Swan 45 class association. He describes his team as not his regular crew, but “a group of friends who have occasionally raced together.” Working to their advantage, however, is access to Nautor’s Swan CEO Leonardo Ferragamo’s NYYC Swan 42 Cuordileone.

The team was planning for three days of practice on the boat, including competing in the Trofeo Mario Formenton, a random-leg race through the Maddalena Archipelago. You’d be hard pressed to find a veteran professional sailor that hasn’t trod through the club’s bustling Piazza Azzura. From May through September few clubs in Europe, or even the world, are as busy with as many high-profile events. However, says Codecasa, the Corinthian aspect of the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is one of its most appealing attributes.
“We are particularly happy to compete in the Corinthian spirit,” he says, “the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda strongly believes in promoting true Corinthian sailing. This is a very important part of yachting, which in recent years has perhaps been overshadowed given the large number of professional sailors competing on board in many regattas.”

Among the crew are Stratis Andreadis, whose father, George, is well known throughout sailing for his series of boats named Atalanti, and 2008 X-35 world champion Alberto Signorini. Another name of note is Newport local Dyer Jones, who was the regatta director for the 32nd America’s Cup. The rest of the crew includes Vuono De Gerardo, Maria Filippo Faruffini di Sezzadio, Stefano Liguori, Patrizio Monaco Furio, Niccolo Porzio di Camporotondo, and Alessandro Maria Rinaldi.

Royal Danish Yacht Club
Hellerup, Denmark

The Royal Danish Yacht Club (originally named the Danish Association for Pleasure Sailing) was founded in 1866 with its first clubhouse built in 1884 in Copenhagen. In connection with the 25-year jubilee in 1891, King Christian IX granted the club his permission to use the name Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub (Royal Danish Yacht Club). The club, today with its main facility in Hellerup, has about 2,200 members.

Skipper: Marie Klok Crump
Yacht: Conspiracy

Though she will be impressed by some prominent names entered in the New York Yacht Club’s Invitational Cup, you can be sure Marie Klok Crump can hold her own in a room full of sailing standouts. From Århus, Denmark, and now living in Newport, R.I., the tall, blonde Scandinavian has been a top-ranked women’s match racer since the mid-nineties, ranking as high as No. 2 in the ISAF Women’s World Match Race circuit and crowned twice as the Danish Match Race Champion (’94, ’96). As a member of the Danish national team, she also pursued an Olympic campaign in the Yngling women’s keelboat for the 2004 games in Athens. This September, however, she will lead the Royal Danish Yacht Club’s co-ed entry in the Invitational Cup.

“This will be a very special event,” says Crump, who is a partner in a management consulting company and will no doubt utilize her sailing skills as well as her business acumen to lead the 10-plus crew. “Not only will I have my husband, Will Crump, and brother, Thomas Klok, who are both accomplished sailors, on my team, but also the event will resurrect the true spirit of amateur racing, which big-boat sailing seems to have been lacking for a long time.”

Nylandska Jaktklubben
Nyland, Finland

Nylandska Jaktklubben, established in 1861 in the province of Nyland, is the most prominent and most successful yacht club in Finland. With more than 2,500 members and more than 700 registered boats, it is also the largest sailing club in the country. The club also operates the Nylandska Jaktklubben Sailing Centre at Bjorkholmen, in the western part of Helsinki.

Skipper: Leonardo Ferragamo
Yacht: Better Than

Leading the Nylandska Jaktklubben challenge is Leonardo Ferragamo, president of Nautor’s Swan, builder of the NYYC Swan 42, and one of Finland’s most iconic companies. Ferragamo, who is also inextricably connected to the luxury goods industry by virtue of a career spent in his family’s fashion business, recently won first overall and second in IRC class at Semaine Nautique Internationale de Mediterranee, the first event on the 2009 Club Swan 42 Mediterranean Circuit.

Though Ferragamo’s crew was primarily Italian at that event, he will happily sail with the required majority of Finnish crew at the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, including Nylandska Jaktklubben commodore (Ms.) Gunilla Antas, vice commodore Erik Wallin, former Finnish Finn champion Christian Andersson, experienced offshore sailors Johan Ahlstrom and Patrick Andersson, and noted skiff sailor Miikka Pennanen, who teaches junior sailing at the club.

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club
Hamilton, Bermuda

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is the third oldest club holding a royal warrant outside the British Isles. Established in 1844 by a party of 30 members, consisting largely of officers in the British Army, it now has approximately 850 resident and non-resident members. In 1933, after almost 60 years of occupation at No. 52 Front Street, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club acquired a waterfront site at Albuoy’s Point, in Hamilton, and then built a large clubhouse on the new property.

Skipper: Mark Watson
Yacht: Tiburon

“Why wouldn’t I?,” says Peter Bromby when asked to serve as tactician aboard Mark Watson’s NYYC Swan 42 Tiburon, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s entry in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. “Mark [a member of both the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the New York Yacht Club] is the driving force behind the team, and I guess he thought I knew what I was doing.”

Bromby is not new to sailing for his club or his country: he represented Bermuda at four Olympic Games (’92, ’96, ’00, ’04) in the Star class. “I think we have a good crack at it,” he says.

Watson secured his club’s berth in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup after winning the 2008 NYYC Swan 42 Nationals. “I was thrilled when the flag officers invited me to skipper the team,” he says. “It’s a tremendous honor to represent the club. I’m looking forward to competing against many of the best sailors in the world, including Terry McLaughlin, who is a member of the Tiburon Racing Team, and Ken Read [who will sail with the New York Yacht Club entry Arethusa, skippered by Phil Lotz], who originally encouraged me to join the Swan 42 Class at its infancy.”

In July, Watson steered Tiburon to a 15th in a fleet of 20 at the hard-fought NYYC Swan 42 Nationals. His crew included Bromby, with whom he has sailed only once before, and Tom Wadson, with whom he has sailed for 30 years. “That’s what this week was all about,” he said after racing. “To mix with the crew and get ready for the Invitational.”

Royal Canadian Yacht Club
Toronto, Canada

The Royal Canadian Yacht Club was founded in 1852 in the British tradition of having a recreational yacht club that would serve unofficially as an auxiliary to the navy. The club was established as the Toronto Boat Club, but in 1854, with Queen Victoria’s permission, the club was renamed the Royal Canadian Yacht Club.

Skipper: Terry McLaughlin
Yacht: Daring

Terry McLaughlin, the designated helmsman for the Royal Canadian Yacht Club’s entry into the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, is familiar with representing his country. At the 1984 Olympics, he won a silver medal sailing a Flying Dutchman, a class in which he is also a world champion. He was the skipper of Canada 1 in the 1983 America’s Cup Trials and helmed the Farr 40 Defiant during the 2001 and 2003 Canada’s Cup victories.

And if McLaughlin’s resume is not enough to intimidate the other New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup teams, the backgrounds of his crew mates may be. Allan Megarry and John Millen both sailed with McLaughlin on Canada 1 and continued their America’s Cup campaigns on Canada II (1987), while Megarry, Millen, and Rob Gale all have claimed multiple Canada’s Cup victories as crew. Millen is also a two-time Olympian and Olympic medalist from 1988 (bronze in the Flying Dutchman class).

“When I first heard about the Invitational, I thought, ‘Great! We’re getting the band back together!'” says McLaughlin, who has also sailed with Daring’s owner, John Hele, himself an accomplished helmsman and national champion in International 14s, who will be part of the crew. “I just hope there are a lot of good sailors at the event who are rusty like me. Our average age might be up there a bit, but it will be a lot of fun, and this will be a different kind of sailing from what we’ve been used to lately; it will be like a collegiate regatta in 42-footers, since you can only use one set of sails and the boats are exactly alike.”

McLaughlin sailed impressively with his New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup team to a sixth place at the NYYC Swan 42 Nationals in July. “To be asked to skipper by John (Hele) is an honor,” says McLaughlin, “and tells me that I’m not dead yet.”

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club
Hong Kong, China

One of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in Hong Kong, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club has a rich, colorful history, which stretches back over 150 years of social and competitive sailing and rowing. The club today has evolved into a multifaceted and cosmopolitan organization, and its membership enjoys a comprehensive range of facilities, both afloat and ashore. Kellett Island in Causeway Bay is the club’s principal base and acts as the parent site to the two smaller branches of the club, at Shelter Cove near Sai Kung, the base for cruisers, and Middle Island in Repulse Bay, home to dinghy sailors, sail training, and rowing.

Skipper: Jamie McWilliam
Yacht: Impetuous

The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s team for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup was selected by the club’s sailing committee and consists of members who have all competed in international sailing regattas over the years.

“The New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup offers our club some international prestige amongst similar clubs around the world,” says commodore Warwick Downes, who will serve as tactician. With the local Doyle Sails loft servicing Southeast Asia, Downes has been racing for more than 50 years. “I feel that we should be represented at this inaugural event, as it looks like a lot of fun along with very good class racing in these NYYC Swan 42s. I have raced in Newport before and look forward to coming back.”

Downes and team skipper Jamie McWilliam have competed against each other many times and this will be only the second time that they have paired up on the same boat.

Pre-regatta preparation for the team includes practice in a Mills 41, a boat similar to the NYYC Swan 42. The boat, called Ambush, is owned by two of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club crew, Joachim Isler (rear commodore sailing) and Drew Taylor (honorary treasurer). Other crew members are Nick Burns, Ben Williams, Gary Gilbert, Glenn Kim, Gaston Chan, and Suzanne Downes.

Royal Cork YC
Cork, Ireland

The Water Club of the Harbour of Cork was established in 1720. That club, said to be the oldest yacht club in the world, is the Royal Cork Yacht Club. Today, total membership is around 1,600. Its facilities are unparalleled in Ireland, and it continues to expand as it hosts world, European, and Irish championships every year. Cork Week, its biennial regatta, is regarded as one of Europe’s premiere events.

Skipper: Anthony O’Leary
Yacht: Blazer

The Royal Cork Yacht Club’s Anthony O’Leary needed little persuasion when his club invited its members to vie for the club’s one berth at the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. “To sail in such a renown place doesn’t come around very often,” says O’Leary.

Six skippers expressed their desire to represent, but in consideration of the success O’Leary and his teammates have enjoyed over the past few years, particularly at the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s amateur-based Commodore’s Cup competition, the 53-year-old skipper was selected.

While they’ve done plenty of Cork 1720 sailing, O’Leary says they will have had zero experience with the NYYC Swan 42 leading up to their practice sailing sessions in Newport, planned for the two days in advance of the first race.

“I’ve seen the 42 in Key West, and done enough sailing in A-sail boats,” says O’Leary, “but not having sailed the boat before, the event for me will be a bit of R&R. I’m just looking forward to the competition. There will be plenty of other teams that won’t have experience in the boat either, so it will be great fun.”

To fill out his squad for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, O’Leary didn’t have to look too far down the club’s membership roster; he has tapped his regular crew from the Cork 1720 Antix, a 26-foot sportboat that the O’Leary family has campaigned over the years. He then plugged in some top crew from Ireland’s Commodore’s Cup squad, and was sure to add his 23-year-old son, Nicholas, an Irish Sailing Association All Ireland Sailing Champion, as tactician. Longtime crew Tom Durchan will tend to the mainsail, and Clive O’Shea will be in the jib trimmer’s slot. The father-and-son duo of Clive and David Love will tend the jib and mast, respectively, and Brian Lennon will finesse the spinnaker sheets. Ritchie Watkins will command the bow.

“It wasn’t hard at all to convince them to come,” says O’Leary. “We are arriving the week before, and like many others we’ll be novices. But we’ve sailed one-design and small boats for a number of years, so hopefully it won’t be dramatically different.”

Royal St. George Yacht Club
Dublin, Ireland

The Kingstown Boat Club, from which the Royal St. George Yacht Club evolved, was founded in 1838 by a small group of boating enthusiasts. Initially, the members’ main interest was in rowing, but membership grew rapidly, and amongst them were many well-known yachtsmen of the day. In 1847, the club became the Royal St. George’s Yacht Club. It subsequently became the Royal St. George Yacht Club. All who know it fondly refer to it as “the George.”

Skipper: Michael Cotter
Yacht: Bandit

“We don’t have any Swan 42s in Ireland,” says
David McHugh, a member of the Royal St. George Yacht Club’s entry, one of two Irish clubs competing in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, “but we don’t feel it’s necessarily a total disadvantage because with a roller-furling jib, asymmetric spinnaker, and no rig tuning or electronics, it will be a very level playing field.”

Instead, he says, success in this 19-boat one-design fleet will come down to “positioning, strategy, and getting around the racecourse in the most efficient way possible.”

To accomplish this task, McHugh and his teammates will rely heavily upon the skills of their skipper, Michael Cotter, a Dragon class champion and regular on the Mediterranean Maxi circuit with his 80-footer Whisper.
In accepting the invitation to represent “The George,” Cotter tasked McHugh, an experienced one-design sailor himself, to cull the best talent from the club’s membership.

“We put together the best we could,” says McHugh. “We were somewhat limited by strength and depth in one-design, 40-foot keelboats in the club, but we have managed to draw from a wide range of talent, both dinghy and keelboat, with a really good mix of youth and experience
from many different classes.”

Their selected pro is Maurice O’Connell, a former Olympic Star sailor and head of North Sails Ireland. “He has a lot of experience with this size and type of boat,” says McHugh.

And while many teams may chose to sail with the maximum 11 crewmembers, Cotter’s squad will sail with nine. The roster includes Michael Liddy, who has broken two speed-sailing records, singlehanded and crewed, and has won the doublehanded Round Britain and Ireland Race. Other team members include three veterans of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s amateur-based Commodore’s Cup competition: Kevin Johnston (Fastnet Race winner), Barry Byrne, and Brendan Fafaini. Andrew Fowler, an experienced team- and match-racing sailor, and Whisper’s mainsheet trimmer, Peter Wilson, complete the team.

Rich in youth and experience, but lacking in time in the NYYC Swan 42, McHugh acknowledges they have a steep learning curve to climb upon their arrival in Newport two days before the event, but, he adds, they’re keen for the experience of competing in an unfamiliar boat in an unfamiliar venue. “We’re really looking forward to it, and we’re interesting to see how everyone competes on a level playing field,” he said. “I imagine there will be a good social side as well. It’s a part of the world a lot of us have never been to.”

Yacht Club de France
Paris, France

The Yacht Club de France was established in 1867 and bestowed royal patronage by Napoleon III. In 1907, the club merged with the Union des Yachts Français, which was founded in 1891. Among its most famous members are author Jules Verne and French ocean racer Eric Tabarly.

Skipper: Bruno Trouble
Yacht: Hoss

Local knowledge, whether it be in regards to deciphering Newport’s famous sea breeze or navigating the city’s equally well-known nightlife, won’t be a problem for the team from Yacht Club de France.

Skipper Bruno Trouble spent many summers in Newport in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the skipper of Baron Bic’s French America’s Cup challenges, and has been back numerous times since in his role as Louis Vuitton’s main connection to the America’s Cup.

“While everything changes in Europe with a lot of new developments going on everywhere, Newport doesn’t change much,” says Trouble. “It’s the same atmosphere, same bars and restaurants-Black Pearl, Candy Store, etc.-same sticky fog, same smell. Going there is like returning to the 1977 America’s Cup with Turner and Jobson.”

Like the America’s Cup competitions of the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s, the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup will have a strong amateur focus, something that Trouble thinks is important for the sport.

“This event is, in fact, the world championship for the main yacht clubs of the world,” he says. “Sailing is now fully professional at the top level and we need events where the quality of racing is amazing without so many pro sailors around. We are very pleased to participate. It is important for us to come and fly our colors even if we will come with no training.”

But don’t discount the French team just yet. In addition to Trouble, who sailed in the 1968 and 1976 Olympics, the team will also feature tactician Henri Samuel, a 16-year veteran of the French National Team, and mainsheet trimmer Pierre Le Maout, a Formula 40 world champion and an advisor for Dennis Conner’s multihull defense of the America’s Cup in 1988.

And even if things don’t go well on the water, with Trouble as their guide, the French team should have little trouble making the most of their time in Newport.

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Auckland, New Zealand

Founded in 1871, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is the country’s oldest and most prominent yacht club. Over the years, boats flying the club burgee have won just about every world-class racing event, including the America’s Cup, the Whitbread Round the World Race, the Kenwood Cup, the Admiral’s Cup, and the Sydney Hobart Race. With the support of more than 2,800 members, the club hosts up to a dozen regattas each year and continues its legacy of racing success, hospitality, and sailing education.

Skipper: John Melville
Yacht: Celeritas

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team may be new to the NYYC Swan 42, but these sailors certainly aren’t new to each other. The majority of the team has sailed together as part of the “Melville Family,” a group of Kiwi racers bound less by blood than by a shared love of competitive racing. John Melville is the family’s patriarch and skipper.

In 2003, New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup team members Jayson Herbert, Andrew Wills, and Jack Melville (John’s son) helped Melville win the Farr 1020 New Zealand National Championship sailing Max Headroom.

For his 2008 BMW Sailing Cup campaign, Melville enlisted his son, Jack, and fellow New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup team members Alastair Gair, Michael Naulls, and Jonathan Rankine. The Bobby’s Girl crew won the New Zealand stage and advanced to the finals in Dubai, where they finished third.

The 2008 China Cup, hosted by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, brought the Melville Family together again. John Melville’s crew aboard the Beneteau First 40.7 Yachtfinders Global included son, Jack, at the mastman position, Wills calling tactics, Rankine and Herbert as trimmers, and Matt Kelway on the bow.

When they’re not racing as part of the Melville Family, the individual members of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team still manage to find their way to the podium. Gair is one of New Zealand’s top small-boat racers. He won the 1998 Laser Radial Youth Worlds, the 2002 OK Dinghy New Zealand National Championships, and the 2006 Etchells New Zealand Nationals, and finished second at both the 2002 OK Dinghy World Championships and the 2006 Etchells Worlds.

Gair isn’t the only Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team member to have enjoyed racing success outside of the Family. Wills won the 2007 Etchells World Championship crewing for Jud Smith, and is the 2008 Young 88 New Zealand national champion; Rankine is currently ranked 183rd on the Open ISAF World Match Race Rankings; Kelway won the 2007 Asian Match Racing Championship.

The team’s sole female member, Danielle Bowater, is an accomplished dinghy sailor. Crewing for Susannah Pyatt, Bowater placed 10th at the 2007 Open Women’s World 420 Championships and 11th at the 2009 Governor’s Cup. She works for North Sails New Zealand alongside Wills and Kelway.

Rounding out the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team are Robin McGregor and shore manager Chris Collins.

Norddeutscher Regatta Verein
Hamburg, Germany

With more than 2,000 members, the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein is Germany’s largest sailing club. It was founded in 1868, and has been dedicated to yacht racing and to sailing ever since. The club’s home waters are the Outer Alster, a small lake-just 1.5 miles long by half a mile wide-created by a damming the river of the same name. The club also has a youth clubhouse on the Elbe River and a facility on the Baltic Sea, in Gramkow, Germany.

Skipper: Achim Griese
Boat: Orbit

NRV skipper Achim Griese is no stranger to success around the buoys. And he certainly has no trouble sailing well in the United States. In 1983 he won three races and finished second overall at the Star World Championships in Marina del Rey. In 1984, he won the silver medal in the class at the Los Angeles Olympics. Of late, Griese has been an active participant in the X-35 class, finishing eighth in the class’s 2009 world championship earlier this summer. Griese’s son Max Griese will be a member of his crew.

Also onboard the boat will be Gunter Persiehl, admiral of the NRV. Persiehl is a top-notch judge who’s worked two America’s Cup regattas and the 1996 Olympics. Other crewmembers include Dr. Wolfgang Kaefer, Dr. Albert Diesch, Niels Henschtel, Jan Welken, Maximilian Ziegelmayer, Malte Paesler, and Klaas Hoepcke.


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