NYYC 2022 Race Week at Newport, Day 1

NYYC 2022 Race Week at Newport, Day 1

NYYC 2022 Race Week at Newport, Day 1

Sport

14/07/2022 - 08:29
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Three races, three different winners on the water, three points separating the top three teams. Those are the bullet points from the sharp end of the leaderboard in ORC D (above), and they all portend a great week of racing in the largest class of handicap yachts at 13th edition of Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex.

Currently, it's Robin Team's J/122 Teamwork that holds the top spot after a challenging day on Rhode Island Sound. New York Yacht Club Commodore Paul Zabetakis sits just a point behind in his Swan 42 Impetuous. In third is Andrew Berdon's J/111 Summer Storm, which is making its debut after a winter refit that has the 11-year-old boat looking like it just came off the production line.

"It's great competition; we are having the time of our lives," says Team, of Lexington, N.C. "Light airs are not our forte, but we muddled through the first race. By the second and third race we had pressure that was a little bit more to our liking and a pressure that the boat can perform in. The crew work was awesome. They kind of drove me around."

The New York Yacht Club's Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex was first run in 1998, and takes place this year from July 13 to 16 out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, in Newport. R.I. The biennial regatta, run at the apex of the summer sailing season, has established itself as one of the premier summer race weeks in the Northeast thanks to the attractive combination of great racing conditions off Newport and the superlative shoreside hospitality at the Club's waterfront Clubhouse overlooking Newport Harbor. Partners for the 2022 edition of Race Week at Newport include presenting sponsor Rolex and regatta sponsors Hammetts Hotel, Safe Harbor Marinas and Helly Hansen.

The Teamwork crew, which includes Team's two sons, has remained very consistent over the past decade. Combine that with an intimate knowledge of how to make their well traveled J/122 go quickly, and the boat usually lives up to its name in big regattas.

"We don't have to call a lot of plays," says Robin Team. "We go into the leeward mark and everybody knows what they're doing, and it's very clam and methodical. We all know what the other is doing, and we can count on each other from start to finish."

With 24 boats on the line, no throw outs allowed, and the class's national championship on the line, the focus for Day 1 in the IC37 fleet was avoiding any regatta-losing mistakes. So, it was more than a little surprising to see one boat punch out to an 8-point lead with a 2-1-2 scoreline, even for the architect of that envious trio of finishes.

"You can't plan for something like this, and you've got to celebrate it when it comes along," says Peter Wagner (Portola Valley, Calif.), the skipper of Skeleton Key (at left). "This is such a tough fleet, with so many really good teams. A bunch of things need to go your way to put up a scoreline like that. We certainly benefitted from those.

"There were some pretty significant shifts on a number of the beats, and we were on the right side of a few of them and able to get in position for a few others."

This is Wagner's third regatta in the IC37 class. He has plenty of experience in boats this size, having won two J/111 world championships. But every class has its idiosyncrasies when it comes to boat speed and boathandling. Climbing that learning curve can take some time. A month ago, at the 168th Annual Regatta, Skeleton Key was 13th. Last weekend the team scored a third in the Newport Regatta.

"The Annual was our first regatta, we were just trying to learn the boat," says Wagner. "We didn't have expectations about results, our goal was more about learning and progress. We got a little bit of that toward the end, posted some more encouraging finishes. Last weekend was better. Hopefully the trend line will continue in that direction. It's a deep fleet. We'll have our tough moments as well; being able to grind through those is the key to success over a long four-day regatta."

It was a much different scene in ORC B, where the 52-footers Fox and Vesper were the only two boats sailing today. A third, Gladiator, is expected to join tomorrow. But with each boat chock full of top professional sailors, it was just as challenging as it would be in a larger fleet, even if the result was a binary situation.

"It felt pretty good," says Andy Horton, the tactician on Fox, which won all three races by a combined 81 seconds. "The last regatta Vesper got the better of us, today we had a good day against them.

"The guys just keep improving, and today was our day. We got a couple shifts right away, and the boys did great with the boatspeed and the boathandling. We were able to get away on a couple of the starts. They ended up having to start on port, and the bottom right of the track wasn't super powerful. We sailed on starboard for a couple of minutes and came across on port and that ended up being the way to go."

After racing, the competitors gathered on the lawn at Harbour Court for a Rolex Welcome Party and to trade stories and gather insight for the remainder of Race Week. Racing will continue tomorrow on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, with the first start scheduled for 11 am, and run through Saturday when the regatta concludes with a sumptuous Rolex Awards Banquet that evening.

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