After hosting 46 crews during the inaugural Safe Harbor Race Weekend in 2021, the encore event that will set sail Friday on Narragansett Bay will feature 62 boats competing in nine classes.
“All but two of last year’s champions are returning,” said Rives Potts, president of Safe Harbor, “which is another testimony to the regatta’s strong foothold going into its second year.”
The three-day regatta, which is comprised of a fleet ranging from a 30-foot J/92 to the 116-foot Whisper, will be co-hosted by Safe Harbor’s marinas in Jamestown, Middletown and Newport. Two ’21 winners from separate PHRF classes — Joe Brito’s J/121 Incognito and the Sertl family’s Farr 30, Das Blau Max — will meet head-to-head in the 10-boat PHRF B class.
“As to our expectations, we are just hoping for good breeze,” said Mark Sertl, a Jamestown resident whose crew includes his wife, Cory, and daughter, Katja. “In handicap racing, with such a diverse class, each dog will have its day. Being the smallest boat in the class, we need to get off the line with a lane and then play lane management until the boats spread out.”
That class also will include fellow Jamestown resident Jack LeFort onboard Tink, an Eggemoggin 47 that posted seven bullets in seven races during Newport Race Week in July.
John Santa’s Galadriel will return as defending champion in the seven-boat Performance Cruising Spinnaker A class. Stephen DeVoe, a Jamestown resident who sold his Dumpling Drive boatyard to Safe Harbor in January 2020, will skipper the Swan 46.
“The racing is point-to-point, but it’s not in a straight line, and it’s not around buoys,” he said about the navigator’s courses. “It’s around government marks, and typically we have a good bit of upwind and downwind work, so it makes it fun.”
Although defending Galadriel’s title is a target for DeVoe, he is most looking forward to sailing with family. His daughter, son-in-law and grandkids will be on the crew alongside Santa’s grandkids and son.
“Everyone on the boat is either a Santa or DeVoe,” he said. “That’s between nine and 13 crew, however many show up.”
Like Incognito, Das Blau Max and Galadriel, another returning champion will be the 2021 overall winner, Stark Raving Mad. The Carkeek 47, with Jim Madden at the helm, will defend its ORC title.
“We had some great, competitive racing at last year’s inaugural event and are looking forward to some exciting and even more competitive racing this year,” he said. “We are expecting the ORC competition to be intense.”
Racing against Stark Raving Mad in the four-boat fleet will be Michael D’Amelio’s Denali and two 52-footers, Vesper and Fox, both from California.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Madden said.
Tight racing among IC37 yachts also is expected in the lone one-design class of the regatta. The 11-boat fleet, which is new to the Safe Harbor event, is the fourth of five regattas in the IC37 summer series. Steve Liebel, whose boat New Wave won the class’ national championship in July, said “all of the teams will be looking for every point possible” in preparation for the continental championship in November hosted by New York Yacht Club in Newport.
Hawk, the Evelyn 32 owned by Newport’s Richard Barker and his daughter, Katie, will defend its title in the eight-boat PHRF C class.
“We of course would love to repeat,” he said. “However, looking down the list of PHRF competitors, I see many of the best sailors and boats from Narragansett Bay.”
The PHRF A class is headlined by Brian Cuhan’s Kerr 55, Irie 2, and the second cruising class will comprise a fleet of six yachts, including Jamestown resident Joe Milyasevich onboard his Eagle 38, Anna.
While these seven classes will race on Narragansett Bay, two fleets of superyachts will sail south of Beavertail Point in Rhode Island Sound. The superyachts will use handicap ratings, size and sailing characteristics to split into their classes. Hap Fauth’s custom Holland Jachtbouw design, Whisper, is considered the frontrunner in the four-boat B class. The 116-footer finished runner-up in ’21 to PERSEUS3, which is unable to return to defend its title. Nakupenda, a 109-foot sloop owned by Middletown’s Clive Youlten, and Sunleigh, a Jongert 107, are the only other boats to eclipse the century mark in length. The superyachts will race for three days compared to two days of racing in 2021.
“It’s more competitive to sail in two classes in which all the boats are more similar in size,” said Whisper’s captain, Newport resident Simon Davison. “And especially on these large boats, where you need to pull so many people together, three races make the effort worthwhile. Whisper’s crew is largely Corinthian, as opposed to all paid professionals, which means friendly rivalry and having a good time are the most important things.”