2017-09-07 / Upcoming Events

Amateur racing slated to dominate bay next week

Corinthian crews from five continents will converge on Narragansett Bay to race for the premier trophy in amateur sailing, the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup.

The fifth biennial edition, which begins Tuesday, is a weeklong regatta that pits 14 yacht clubs against one another. From Newport to Japan, sailors from across the globe will cruise aboard Swan 42s, a Frers design launched in 2006 specifically for the New York Yacht Club.

While sailing the Swan 42 in mixed fleets allows crews to adjust rigging with a full complement of sails, the invitational is strict, with teams competing with a limited, identical suit of sails. Also, the rig tune is standardized across the fleet for the duration of the regatta, which means speed differences between the boats are hard-won.

“We put a tremendous amount of effort into ensuring that we have as close to an identical fleet of boats as possible,” said regatta chairwoman Patti Young, a Beavertail resident. “This puts the emphasis squarely on the sailors, the decisions they make over the course of five days of racing and their ability to coax as much boat speed as possible out of the platform. True one-design sailing in boats this size is extremely rare.”

Jamestown skipper Paul Zabetakis, who owns Impetuous, was sailing toward securing the bid to represent his club in the invitational, but a family emergency during the Swan 42 national championship in July forced him to miss three days of the regatta. Because the championship doubled as a qualifying race, Impetuous was forced to withdraw from the cup’s selection series because the substitute skipper was not a New York Yacht Club member. In a bittersweet moment, Impetuous won the 2017 U.S. title while losing the cup bid.

“We tried to figure out some way of still collecting points, but there wasn’t anything we could do,” Zabetakis said. “So, we decided to change our focus.”

With Impetuous out of the picture, New Yorker John Hele, who helmed Daring to the 2013 and 2016 Swan 42 national titles, took control of the selection series. His team will represent the host club next week.

The New York Yacht Club’s lone cup win was in the inaugural 2009 edition, when Jamestowner Phil Lotz helmed Arethusa to victory over 18 other teams. Lotz is now commodore of the yacht club.

This is the penultimate cup for the Swan 42 class. Starting in 2019, the regatta will be raced using a fleet of IC37 boats, a boat conceived by Mills Design, built by Melges and commissioned by the yacht club.

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