Lee DAYTON, owner and skipper of the J/105 Ajax, had no idea he would do so well at this year's New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex.
After accepting a trophy yesterday for winning his class in PHRF division for the first half of the week, the Greenwich, Conn., skipper made a second trip to the winner''s circle today for topping his class in the distance race that marked the mid-point of the eight-day competition. He now is steeling himself for what he calls the "real test" - the one-design portion of Race Week that begins Friday and will serve as the J/105 Southern New England Championships. Ajax is one of several boats that entered both sessions of Race Week and the distance race that separates them.
"Since we didn't have local knowledge, sailing amongst the rocks and waves was pretty exciting,"
said Dayton, who sailed in the area as a child but had never travelled up the scenic West Passage of Narragansett Bay, where the distance race took a fleet of 46 boats. "It was awesome, actually."
Originally planned as a circumnavigation of Conanicut Island, the race was cut short to half the distance (10.1 miles) due to light air. Ajax completed the course in just over two hours and 16 minutes and showed up on paper as the fastest finisher in the fleet on its corrected time (based on a handicap rating) of one hour, 54 minutes and change.
The first boat to cross the finish line today after just under two hours of sailing was Lightwave, the Transpac 52 owned by David FORD (Bristol, R.I./Waban, Mass.); however, Bob TOWSE'S (Stamford, Conn.) Reichel/Pugh 66 Blue Yankee beat Lightwave on corrected time in IMS Class 2. Combined, there were five classes sailing, including one for IMS, three for PHRF and one for Classic yachts.
According to Ajax crew member Sarah ENGLEHEART, also of Greenwich, the team started practicing together only last March and has spent much of the summer at the bottom of the fleet during racing at their home club, Indian Harbor Yacht Club. "We sail with a crew of five instead of the normal six for a J/105, so we really have to focus on getting the job done. We've had a coach helping us, and it really has paid off."
Despite his team's performance over the last five days, Dayton has reservations about what lies ahead. "We,ll be sailing without our coach aboard, since there are no professionals allowed for the championship, and we,ll be up against some of the class,s best national sailors. The proof will be in the pudding."
The second half of Race Week also will serve as North American championships for the Farr 395, Henderson 30 and J/35 classes. The Farr 40 class will determine its East Coast Champion. Other one-design classes competing are the J/109, J/120 and Swan 45.
Rolex Watch U.S.A. has been the exclusive presenting sponsor of NYYC events since 1994. Supporting sponsors of Race Week include Mount Gay Rum and Heineken USA.
Top-Three Results July 21 Day 5: Distance Race (Final)
Place, skipper, hometown, boat name, boat type, corrected time overall
IMS CLASS 2
1. Robert C. Towse, Stamford, Conn., Blue Yankee, Reichel/Pugh 66, 1:58:45
2. Dave Ford, Bristol, RI, Lightwave, TP52, 2:01:44
3. Randall Greene, Greenwich, Conn., Kodiak, Farr 66, 2:01:02
PHRF CLASS 3
1. Rick Orchard, Duluth, Ga., Grins, Farr 36, 1:58:25
2. Blair Brown, Newton, Mass., Sforzando, Taylor 45, 2:03:24
3. Ira Futterman, Kew Gardens, N.Y., R-Wave, ILC40, 2:04:03
PHRF CLASS 4
1. Chad Ingle/U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., Swift, NAVY 44, 2:00:34
2. Andrew Weiss, Greenwich, Conn., Chris Dragon, J/130, 2:01:06
3. Charles Townsend, New York, N.Y., T-Squared, IMX40, 2:02:36
PHRF CLASS 5
1. Lee Dayton, Old Greenwich, Conn, Ajax, J/105, 1:54:04
2. Barrett Holby, Warren, R.I., Wazimo, Quest, 1:55:35
3. Elizabeth Taylor, New York, N.Y., Quetzal, J/92, 1:57:09
CLASSIC CLASS 6
1. Don Glassie, Newport, R.I., Fortune, Custom, 2:23:13
2. Genevieve Cerf, Groton Long Pt., Conn., Chips, Custom, 2:31:39
3. Fred Roy, Newport, R.I., Surprise, Custom, 2:36:20