Neither too much nor too little wind, comfortably cool temperatures, plenty of sunshine glittering on the water – conditions couldn’t have been more perfect as 98 teams enjoyed a conclusive Sunday of sailing at the New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex. The last session of the split-format regatta started on Thursday (July 19) for IRC, One Design and PHRF, and today each of 11 classes yielded a winner, with three of those classes – Swan 42, J/109, and Beneteau 36.7 – also naming, respectively, their new 2012 National, North American and Northeast Champions.
Though his score line doesn’t scream it, there was plenty of tooth-and-nail fighting to determine that defending Swan 42 National Champion Ken Colburn, helming Apparition, would go home as the 2012 Swan 42 National Champion as well. A leader on day one, Colburn got displaced at the top of the leader board by John Hele’s (Toronto, CAN/Newport, R.I.) Daring on day two but fought back to a comfortable lead yesterday. In three races today, Apparition finished 1-4-4 to Daring’s 6-11-6 and proved that the key to winning this 15-boat contest was never finishing out of the top four. After its performance today, Daring fell to third overall, while Phil Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) Arethusa snuck into second overall on the merit of a 2-5-2 finish today.
“I'm very pleased with the results; our team was excellent,” said Colburn, who was awarded a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner in addition to the champion’s trophy. “We had a couple of lucky breaks, which in a big fleet sometimes come your way and sometimes don't, but frankly we were able to find good boat speed, take advantage of the shifts when they occurred, and ultimately just put together a good regatta."
About his lead going into today, Colburn added: "We were able to establish a lead and repeat it. In order to do that you need to minimize your mistakes, take advantage of shifts, and work hard to get the maximum out of these boats, all of which we were successful at doing.”
A Rolex timepiece also was awarded to Rick Lyall (Wilton, Conn.), skipper of Storm, which simultaneously won the J/109 class here and the 2012 North American Championships. It wasn’t easy with 17 boats and an assault by Bill Sweetser’s (Annapolis, Md.) Rush, which finished second, and three-time and defending North American Champion Ted Herlihy’s (South Darmouth, Mass.) Gut Feeling, which finished third.
“It’s beyond words how happy we are,” said Lyall, who won the North American title once before in 2009. He explained that Storm went into today with a nine-point lead, but there was reason for concern when the Race Committee announced that three races would be conducted instead of the expected two and the team had started the day with a sixth-place finish.
“We knew we had to sail today to defend our title, and there was certainly an opportunity that we could give away our lead,” said Lyall. “We had a bad start in the first race, which put us much closer to our two closest competitors, but after that, we went back and won the next two. We sailed well and consistently, and the boat is fast.”
It was maxi racer George David (Hartford, Conn.) and his crew aboard the 90-foot Reichel Pugh Rambler in IRC 1 who showed a dominant performance over New York Yacht Club Commodore Bob Towse’s Reichel Pugh 66 Blue Yankee to claim the Best Performance Overall in IRC and a Rolex watch for the effort. The two match-raced over ten races with Rambler posting 13 points to Blue Yankee’s 18.
"Most races were decided by less than a minute,” said Rambler crew member Mick Harvey, who has been sailing with the program since the boat was purchased by David in 2006. “The boats are different lengths and different vintages, so it proves that the IRC racing really works. We were quite surprised that we did so well overall, but I must say that we sail pretty well for a ten-year-old boat. Most of the guys sailing the boat now have been there since the beginning; we're the Rambler family."
In IRC 2, Jim Swartz's (Park City, Utah) IRC 52 Vesper prevailed to win after today’s three races where second-place finisher Interlodge, owned by Austin and Gwen Fragomen (Newport, R.I.), made a valiant effort to overtake. Having won three races yesterday, Interlodge proceeded to win only one today while Vesper won two.
“They were on fire yesterday, so we had to up our game today,” said Swartz. “We are so close on ratings that it’s almost like one-design racing. Today’s third race was the most fun; we had a serious tacking duel on the first beat and we were ahead at the top mark, which we hadn’t been in the other two races.”
Ed and Molly Freitag’s (Annapolis, Md.) Summit 40 Downtime tipped the scales in its favor after three races in the 14-boat IRC 4 class. Going into today, the team trailed Craig Albrecht’s (Sea Cliff, N.Y.), Farr 395 Avalanche, which was perched at the top of the scoreboard all week, by two points and Andrew Shea’s (Annapolis, Md.) J/122 Dolphin, which was in second overall, by one point.
After winning today’s first race, Avalanche widened its point spread to four over DownTime, which had finished third, and five over Dolphin, which had finished fifth. Then in race two, Dolphin switched the tables, finishing first and leaving fifth place for Avalanche while DownTime split a corrected-time tie for third with Mike Bruno’s (Armonk, N.Y.) J/122 Wings. Dolphin, once again, had put itself within one point of winning, with DownTime only .5 of a point behind. Needless to say, the two teams were ecstatic that the Race Committee would run a third and final race. With one last shot to win, DownTime finished second to win the nine-race series by a mere .5 points over Dolphin, which finished third in that race, while Avalanche finished eighth, leaving it to collect third overall.
On his second day of racing here in IRC 3, Art Santry (Oyster Bay, N.Y.), skipper of the Ker 50 Temptation-Oakcliff, had said that if his crew – comprised partially of Oakcliff Sailing Center students – kept up its stellar work, his team was going to be tough to beat. The self-fulfilling prophesy played out today, when the team finished 4-2-1 to post 16.5 points over the 20 posted by Jim Bishop’s (Jamestown, R.I.) J/44 White Gold on merit of a 2-1-2 today. Tempation-Oakcliff, also with Oakcliff’s Executive Director and veteran America’s Cup/offshore sailor Dawn Riley aboard, established its dominance early in the nine-race series and had four victories plus a tie for first in their score line.
In Melges 32s, Benjamin Schwartz’s (Brightwaters, N.Y.) Pisces broke yesterday’s tied score with Alec Cutler’s (Hamilton, Bermuda) Hedgehog to take overall victory. The six-boat class sailed three races today to complete six for a series that prepares them for their U.S. Nationals next week, when up to 27 Melges 32s are expected to participate.
The Melges 24 Velocita won the PHRF Navigator’s class, which fit in two races today after having failed to complete a race yesterday within the time limit. Its skipper Sanford Tyler (W. Hyannisport, Mass.) posted scores of 1-1 to lead JP Skov’s (Portsmouth, R.I.) Dufour 36 Northstar by three points.
Henry Brauer’s (Marblehead, Mass.) Fleetwing, William Purdy’s (New York, N.Y) Whirlwind, and Sean Doyle’s (Cos Cob, Conn.) Kestrel continued their winning ways today in three races each for J/111, Beneteau 36.7 and J/105 classes, respectively.
Photo Credit: Daniel Forster
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