The second half of New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex kicked off yesterday with outstanding conditions and plenty of racing for the 83 entries competing here in eight classes.
Major championships are being determined this week including North Americans for the Farr 395, Henderson 30 and J/35 classes; East Coast for the Farr 40 class; and Southern New England for the J/105 class. Other one-design classes competing are the J/109, J/120 and Swan 45. The best performing yacht overall will be awarded a Rolex timepiece at Sunday's Rolex Trophy Ceremony.
Race Committee Chair John MENDEZ continued his standard of running "as many races as possible" by dividing the fleet among three racecourses on Rhode Island Sound and completing four races on each one. Steady 10- to 12-knot breezes gave seasoned competitors a chance to grab an early lead on this first of three days devoted to one design yachts.
A casual glance at the scoreline for all of the class leaders gives the impression that there is one clear "fast boat" in each fleet. Most have at least one first-place finish. But, when the conditions are as consistent as they were yesterday, with wind shifts at a minimum, boat handling was the secret to success in these highly competitive fleets.
"Our impeccable crew work made the difference today,"
said Marty KULLMAN of St. Petersburg, Fla., the driver on Michael CARROLL's Henderson 30 New Wave, which leads its class. "Sailing the Henderson 30 is like sailing a dinghy, and all eight of our crewmembers have significant dinghy experience. The Henderson 30 is a lively, quick boat and the dinghy mentality onboard made the difference in our scores."
Dave MENDELBLATT, U.S. Olympic Team member Mark Mendelblatt's brother, is onboard, and Kullman credits him along with John JENNINGS, the past U.S. Masters champion, calling tactics. Jeffrey GALE'S Beautiful World of Abaco, Flas. is in second place.
Leading the J/109 class is Craig CROSSLEY of Barrington, R.I. Dana Seniff of S. Glastonbury, Conn. leads the 11-boat J/35 class, and in the J/120 class is Thomas Lee's Ricochet, from Essex, Conn. in the lead.
In the Blue Fleet, the Farr 395, Swan 45 and Farr 40s duked it out for daily honours. Returning to Newport waters after a recent victory at the NYYC 150th Annual Regatta is Jim RICHARDSON of Boston, Mass., who owns and skippers the Farr 40 Barking Mad, with Terry Hutchinson calling tactics. He is using the regatta to tune up for the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds later this year in San Francisco. With scores of 3-3 3-2, Richardson leads the ultra-competitive fleet, just three quarters of a point ahead of Virago, owned by Stuart & MarrGwen Townsend of Chicago, Ill., with Chris Larson sailing as tactician.
Richardson explained that a bad start in the final race of the day almost cost him the overall lead.
"With 10 seconds until the start, Appreciation forced an overlap and caused us to go over the line," he said. "We were able to jibe around, go back around the pin and start off. We did a good job fighting back in the fleet and ended up at the top mark in third. We lost Appreciation on the run to the leeward mark and had a good second beat, catching up to Virago. On the last downwind leg coming into the finish, we had a good position on Virago. We threw in a couple of jibes and rolled over the top of them. That's why we're in first and not second place."
According to Richardson, onboard Barking Mad, small mistakes don't add up. "We have been sailing together a long time. We have great teamwork, great crew work and a little luck always helps."
Racing continues today and Sunday. Full results are available on the event website at the address below.