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18 July 2004, 10:09 am
Wind And Sun - A Perfect Opening Day
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© Dan Nerney/Rolex

New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex
Newport, RI

The biennial event, in its fourth running, is hosting 79 of its 180 entrants for the four-day "first half" of Race Week, devoted to IMS, PHRF, Classic Yacht and 12-Meter racing.
The balance of the fleet will compete this coming Friday through Sunday, July 23-25, in the event's "second half," devoted strictly to one-design racing. (A distance race on Wednesday, July 21, is open to both fleets and is scored separately.)

For those at the top of the scoreboard today, the real key to competitive happiness was having multiple moderate-air races in the bank so early. Four races were held in the one IMS and six PHRF classes, with three races completed in the one 12 Meter and two Classic Yacht classes. Race Committee Chairman John Mendez had forewarned sailors at a skippers' meeting that downwind finishes would be utilized to allow for quick turnaround of races.

"You'd get done with a race, repack (the spinnaker), then start again," said Mark PLOCH (Clearwater, Fla./City Island, N.Y.), who is serving as tactician on Andrew WEISS'S (Greenwich, Conn.) Christopher Dragon, a J/130 leading PHRF Class 3 after winning three of its races. "It was brutal, but in a good way. And the weather...it was like the Chamber of Commerce ordered it."

When asked for his team's secret to consistency, Ploch responded: "We went for pressure. It was shifty, but the pressure on the right paid out more than the shifts."

In PHRF Class 2, the skipper of one of two U.S. Naval Academy entrants, Ensign Chad Ingle, was also duly impressed by the opportunity to complete four races. "You could see how the racing got closer as the day went on-we had a blast with the short courses." Ingle's command, the Navy 44 Swift, won its class at the Annapolis-Bermuda Race earlier this year and trails class leader Gambler, a Frers 41 owned by John DOWNEY (Canton, Mass.) by only one point. Swift's sister entry, Vigilant, is currently in seventh overall in class. "Both crews are made up of members of the Naval Academy Sailing Team," explained Ingle. "It's kind of a friendly rivalry. Being as our boats are exactly alike, we're a good check point for each other around the buoys."

In other action: Numbers, a Farr 60 owned and skippered by Dan MEYERS (Boston, Mass.) posted three victories to lead the IMS class. Serving as tactician aboard is Newport's favourite sailing son Ken READ, a multiple world champion. The Herreshoff-designed Bambino, with Halsey HERRESHOFF skippering (Bristol, R.I.) leads Class 1 of the Classic Division while Don GLASSIE'S (Newport, R.I.) custom staysail schooner Fortune leads Class 2. Tomorrow will determine winners in this division, which sails only two days of the regatta as the second of a three-part New York Yacht Club series developed specially for Classic and Vintage Yachts.
Barby MacGowan
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