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20 July 2004, 10:13 am
Classic Yachts Finale
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New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex
Newport, RI

Two classes of classic yachts celebrated the end of their New York Yacht Club Race Week experience in Newport today, even though the Rolex-sponsored event is a nine-day competition.
The first weekend served as the second of three events in the NYYC Invitational Racing Series for Vintage and Classic Yachts, open to boats built before 1958. (The NYYC's recent 150th Annual Regatta served as the first and the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta in September serves as the third.)

With fog and light winds delaying racing in the morning, the weather did not cooperate as beautifully as it did during yesterday's opening races. The spectacular visual of "We loved the experience," said Don GLASSIE(Newport), owner and skipper of Fortune, which won Class 2. "It was the first time the classics have sailed in Race Week and I think it was a good idea to include them."

Fortune is a 54-foot antique staysail schooner built in 1926 and designed by B.B. Crowninshield. Glassie's 'remarkable' all-Rhode Island crew has sailed together for almost eight years and one crew member, John Taft of Newport, has sailed the boat for 30 years with his skipper friend.

"We do more sail changes than the rest of the fleet combined," said Taft, explaining that on the yacht's two masts there are at least four sails flying at any given time. "It was a workout for us when we did the four races yesterday."

Glassie added that the racing was "tight and close" despite each classic yacht's different length and handicap by the NYYC cruising rule. "It was not like any one was way out of the box."

Finishing in second was the classic beauty Bolero, a 73, yawl owned by Ed Kane (Concord, Mass.) and designed in 1949 by Olin Stephens as "the largest modern ocean racer of its time."

A highlight of the awards ceremony was when Olin Stephens himself, now in his 90's, awarded Bolero with a special trophy for being the top boat designed by Sparkman & Stephens.

The prestigious design firm coordinated an elaborate 75th Anniversary Celebration with Race Week, and the legendary S&S designed 12 Meters Columbia, Courageous, Intrepid and Freedom are sailing in the event's first half and used this weekend as their 12-Meter Annual Regatta.

The biennial New York Yacht Club Race Week presented by Rolex is in its fourth running and has over 180 entrants competing in two segments of racing: one for handicap boats on the front end and another for one-design boats on the back end. A distance race on Wednesday, July 21, will split the sessions.
Barby MacGowan
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