Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup 2015 – Report

17/09/2015


 
Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup 2015 – Report
 
William Edwards recounts the first few days of the RTYC team’s training and racing at the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup 2015.
 
The advance party of myself, Henry Woods, Stuart Miller, Nick Hornby, Alison Kinsey and Emily Few Brown arrived in Newport on Thursday, September 9th. We had a dreadful drive down to Newport from Boston with terrible traffic and lashing rain but ended our first day with a convivial dinner at a favourite haunt of ours where we were joined by David, the boat captain from Royal Itchenor Sailing Club.
 
Friday was spent doing final administration, setting up the rental house and, most importantly, checking that everything was OK with “Better Than” our Swan 42. That night we went for dinner at Black Pearl, down on the waterfront. Ali booked the table and was told it was a “smart” restaurant which Ali took to meaning she better dress herself up a bit!
 
Barry Sampson, his friend Robbie and boat captain David were our guests for dinner. And we all had a fun evening.
 
Saturday morning we went to weigh in and collectively were 10 Kg over the limit, most of which Nick Hornby was wearing. A most unpleasant trip to the sauna followed complete with multiple press-ups and we returned to weigh in successfully at 11am. This was followed by an excellent breakfast which Emily had waiting for us. JG, Katie, Sammie, Matt Curthoys and his wife Kirsty, arrived from New York in time for the weigh in and we skated in an 899.4 against the target of 900 kg. After registration we spent the afternoon sailing and went through many jibes, hoists and drops. Dobson was excellent at organizing the team. The team were focused and slick.
 
In the afternoon the ultra professional and slick NYYC race committee organized our first practice race. We had a good start and after an excellent first beat where Dobson showed great skill finding us sharp lanes and good lifts, we demonstrated great speed and height and arrived at the windward mark hard on the heels of our old friend, Paul Zabetakis who I am so pleased won the NYYC selection trials. He is a most worthy representative for them.
 
We flew down the run and arrived at the leeward mark ahead of Paul Zabetakis and the NYYC team. Brilliant. We led up the second beat with great skill and excellent crew work and extended our lead and on the second run we extended further still and ended the race 500 metres in the lead.
 
On Sunday night we enjoyed a beautiful cocktail party and opening reception down by the waterside in the NYYC’s open sided marque complete with lobster and lots of other shell fish.
 
 
Monday
 
A busy day on the water: 2 practice starts and beats. We cocked up the first one getting trapped on the left and the second one was a lot better. The wind then increased to 30 knots and after a bit of procrastination the race committee canned it and we all sailed in.
 
A nice afternoon chilling with the team in the hospitality tent a few D & S’s and back for a focused team dinner at Division St where we sat down to roast beef.
 

 
Tuesday
 
After a postponement we went out to a light but building breeze and finally after 1,257 days and 3 ¾ years of preparation we hit the race course.
 
RACE 1
JG pulled off a safe sensible front row start next to NYYC and we just got our nose in front and held our lane. It looked good for a few minutes and then the wind flicked right and the boats on the right suddenly looked very strong. Dobson cut our losses and we crossed to the right. At this point we were about 11th or 12th.
 
We sailed really strongly and cleverly and moved trough the fleet into about 8th place, picked off another place on the run and another two on the second beat and held our position in a very, very tight run to the finish and crossed 5th. The crew were jubilant. It was a fabulous race because we demonstrated mental resilience and boat speed, plus great tactical awareness.
 
RACE 2
The wind filled in more and JG executed a great start. W e won a lane, crossed all bar Middle Harbour and set up the race course 2nd. We held 2nd all the way hiking hard, kiting well and apart from nearly getting a penalty point for late retraction of the pole we can be proud of a good solid slick sail and a very worthy second place. It’s easy when you get out in front early on! A brilliant lay line call and only 2 tacks up the first beat helped a lot.
 
RACE 3
Now in stronger breeze we started well again ahead of most of the fleet, crossing to the right we found good breeze. We got into the lead (just) and in theory but overstood the windward mark and rounded 4th. A solid run holding off the chasing pack retained 4th and a superb drop and rounding put us in control on a short 2nd beat. Dobo dug in for 4th and we rounded the top mark in a safe 4th, sailed a strong final run and another superb drop and rounding a tactically clever final short beat and just held off NYYC and retained 4th.
 
SUMMARY
Solid and conservative. We demonstrated great skill, great fitness on the rail: hiking until we couldn’t feel our legs, arms out a lot and frankly outdoing all the others bar Seattle for fitness.
 

 
Wednesday
 
No wind at first so a long postponement of 4 hours. Finally a light 5-6 knot wind came in and we started what was to be the only race of the day at about 15.00.
 
Unbeknown to us Seattle, who were 3 points behind us in 2nd place, had decided to gun us down. Early in a series for that type of gamesmanship but this is a big deal and we should possibly have been more aware. Looking at the tracker in the evening they came for us from the boat end as we came in from the pin end at about 4 minutes to go. They tailed us without us realizing and with 40 seconds to go came up from behind and violently luffed us. JG put the wheel hard up. They protested and broke the red flag. Just when we were lined up for a great start we had to go head to wind. The umpires signaled a green flag but our start was badly compromised.
 
Seattle bore away through our lee but we dug in to windward and held our lane. The boat inside tacked off and we did too. Seattle tacked simultaneously. For ten minutes we tracked side by side with Seattle 2 lengths to windward and level. Gradually we pulled ahead and climbed. Middle Harbour above Seattle tacked off and eventually Seattle tacked off. Dobson rung the bell and hit the corner and we tacked onto starboard for the lay line. It looked good. The lead 2 or 3 of the boats that had gone left looked favourable and we looked set to arrive at the first mark 5th and close to the leaders.
 
Itchenor had had a great start and were sailing the middle of the beat. They came across and crossed us by a length and tacked straight on our wind. In 5-6 knots of wind that’s catastrophic for boat speed. Whatever we did we were in trouble. If we bore away we couldn’t fetch and if we tacked we would lose a lot. Eventually we had to tack. Itchenor were not in our good books…… the dinner invitation that had been issued to them for that evening was cancelled or if it wasn’t we were going to tamper with their food!
 
We rounded the top mark 12th. Sailing can be cruel.
 
We hoisted the golden kite, not feeling very victorious, and did a fantastic spin set and set off the opposite way to the fleet. The free air gained us a place and we won back another on the second beat. The final run was snakes and ladders and we finished 11th. Despite that Seattle were only 8th and NYYC were last so we held the equal lead with Seatlle on 22 points. Royal Cork had a good race and climbed to 2nd on 24 points and Royal Canadian YC finished 3rd and climbed to 5th.
 
Thursday will have more wind and probably 3 races will be sailed.
 
In the evening we enjoyed a great dinner with Itchenor and our flag officers back at the house. We toasted the friendship between the two clubs! The food was delicious.

Lists of teams in the event, results, photos and live udpates of the racing can be found on the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup Website.