No more America’s Cup? No problem! Race week begins Saturday
The departure of the America’s Cup World Series from Narragansett Bay was hardly the end of bigtime racing in the waters surrounding Conanicut Island this summer. The annual New York Yacht Club Race Week begins Saturday, and several Jamestown boats are in the mix.
There are over 150 boats entered in the regatta, which is divided into three parts. The first part, known as Classics Weekend, begins on Saturday and features 12 metres, 6 metres, boats from the Herreshoff S class, and other classics. One of the Herreshoffs is Mischief, which will be sailed by Walter Bopp of Jamestown.
There are 28 boats entered for part one, including seven 12 metres, which will vie for the Newport Trophy. Among the competing 12 metres are legendary America’s Cup winners Columbia (1958), Intrepid (1967, 1970) and Courageous (1974, 1977).
Race week continues with part two on Wednesday, July 18. The schedule for that day calls for a 19- mile race around Conanicut Island that is open to all classes. Thirtysix boats are entered so far in the Around the Island Race, including two that call Jamestown home. Jim Bishop will be on the starting line with White Gold, a J/44, and Paul Zabetakis will sail Impetuous, a Swan 42.
Zabetakis, who is a physician by trade and runs a division of Fresenius Medical Care in Waltham, Mass., splits his time between Jamestown and a winter home in Stuart, Fla. Impetuous remains in Jamestown and will compete for the Swan 42 national championship as a part of race week. Zabetakis has owned Impetuous since 2006.
According to Zabetakis, who is one of the founders of the Swan 42 class, 16 of the boats will compete in four days of racing beginning on Thursday, July 19. Their competition will consist of sailing around the buoys with the possibility of one day being devoted to a longer race.
“We’ve decided this year that we may race a mid-level-distance race this year,” Zabetakis said. “We’ve been talking about it the last couple of years, and we decided to do it this year.”
Although the sailing instructions call for such a race, no decisions have been made with regard to the details, which will depend on racing conditions next week.
The Swan 42 class was developed when Zabetakis was part of a group of 15 people who put out a request for proposal from several boat designers in 2004. The group was looking for a one-design racing and cruising boat in the 40- foot range. Among the designers queried were Nautor’s Swan, Farr, Freres and Kerr.
Swan was chosen and the first boats were delivered in 2005. Although
Swan is headquartered in Finland, in recent years the hulls for the Swan 42 have been built in Estonia due to cost considerations. The boats are then returned to Finland for completion. There are now approximately 50 Swan 42s worldwide.
According to Zabetakis, the Swan 42 fleet for the championship is deep in both fast boats and talented racers. He pointed to competitors like Ken Colburn’s Apparation, which won last year’s national and East Coast championship; Zarathustra, owned by Phil Lotz; Andy Fisher’s Bandit; and Hoss, which is owned by Glenn Darden and Phil Williamson.
“It’s an easy boat to sail, but it’s much more difficult to get up to that top level,” Zabetakis said. “As a result of the years that people have been putting into the boats, we really have a very strong fleet. It’s a tough field.”
Zabetakis, who sails Impetuous with a crew of 10 people, placed seventh overall in the New York Yacht Club annual regatta earlier this summer. The boat also participated in Block Island Race Week where it finished third overall in its IRC class, and first in its division in the race around Block Island. Impetuous will also sail in the annual New York Yacht Club cruise this summer.
Part three of race week runs from Thursday, July 19, to Sunday,
July 22, and will feature onedesign and handicap racing. The 95 boats entered so far make it the biggest part of the regatta by far. In addition to White Gold and Impetuous, Jamestown entries in part three include Patricia Young’s Tripp 41 named Entropy, and Robert Salk and John Sahagian’s J/109 named Picante.
The J/109 class North American championship will be up for grabs as part of the competition. Eighteen of the one-design boats are entered so far, including Rick Lyall’s Storm.
“Race week in Newport is a high profile event where race management is very good and the venue and racing area is truly spectacular,” said Lyall, the 2009 J/109 North American champion. “Winning a major regatta takes a lot of preparation for the boat and crew and a reasonable amount of luck. Even when you’ve done everything you can to have everything on the boat in order – a perfect bottom, new sails and a highly experienced crew – it all can fall apart with one bad break. You can control preparation, but being lucky is an intangible.”