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US emergency services have suspended the search for a Limerick man missing after going swimming at a New York beach earlier this week.

As Independent.ie reports, Neil Gibbons, 30, disappeared after he and friends got into difficulty in the water off Long Beach in the early hours of Monday (25 June).

It’s understood that the incident occurred close to where 10-year-old Ramell McRae Jr went missing while swimming last week.

The body of a young boy was recovered in the search for McRae on Monday.

The US Coast Guard announced on Tuesday (26 June) that it has suspended the search for Gibbons “pending any new information”.

Independent.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#TITANIC - The Titanic is for sale - if you have a spare $189 million to spend, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The single-lot auction, which will take place in April on the 100th anniversary of the Belfast-built ocean liner's tragic demise, includes more than 5,000 items salvaged from the wreck, from gold coins and clothing to parts of the ship's hull itself.

But casual buyers need not apply, as aside from the multi-million-dollar outlay, the prospective purchases must also take on stewardship over the collection, preserving it for future generations and exhibiting parts of it to the public.

Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's Auctioneers & Brokers in New York, commented: "It's like getting a puppy. When you bring it home, you don't think of all the responsibilities and the time and investment that will be required... But it takes great care."

Images of the items up for auction are available HERE.

Published in News Update

#SHIPPING - The Irish Times reports that a tanker carrying hazardous cargo has been allowed to berth at Belfast Port after it reported a cracked hull off the north-west coast.

The 228-metre Germar Companion, which is is carrying 54,000 tonnes of vacuum gas oil, was on route from Rotterdam to New York when its crew discovered cracking in its upper deck some 25 miles off Tory Island.

The Air Corps and Naval Service were stood down after the cargo ship was granted permission to berth at Belfast, where its hull will be inspected.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Anthony O'Leary ended up in the same position as he started the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup after yesterday's final rounds. The Royal Cork crew counted a 15 in the final race to end up eighth, the same as Monday's opening score. The sole Irish invitees were as high as sixth last Thursday.

In a reversal of fortunes from the inaugural event two years ago, the Terry McLaughlin-led team from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club persevered today to win the 2011 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, sailed in Swan 42s. The New York Yacht Club team finished second, with the Annapolis Yacht Club team, third. The final race days' light and shifty conditions gave all 22 teams the opportunity to shift positions on the leaderboard, but in the end most just solidified what they had already earned.

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Royal Cork's entry finished eighth in New York. Photo: Kurt Arrigo/Rolex

The Canadian entry, skippered by Olympic medalist and former America's Cup skipper, Terry McLaughlin, went into the day – and the final race – with a ten-point lead over the New York Yacht Club entry. But the Canadians took charge from the start, McLaughlin recounted their strategy, "We decided to go after New York, but it was tricky. It was five knots at the start, but it was very, very shifty and puffy, so if we let them sail their own race and we had tried to sail our own race.  There is a reasonable chance that they would have put ten boats between us, so we decided that 'ok listen' we've got to be near them. If we put them back at the start and we're back at the start than it doesn't matter and we couldn't lose.

"But, we still both had reasonable starts at the right end and we went right a little bit. Then they (NYYC) sort of got to us a bit, so I bailed left, but we happened to be in a great puff and gained on them a lot."

The Royal Canadian Yacht Club team, from Toronto, sailed a nearly flawless series with seven top five finishes – out of eleven races sailed. In races where the Canadians were deep in the fleet, McLaughlin, tactician John Togerson and crew inevitably overhauled the boats ahead. McLaughin said, "I think we came back quite well this series. Obviously yesterday was our best, going from nineteenth to sixth. Its important because you can't get off the line in great shape or get around the first mark in great shape, eleven races in a row."

The 55-year old sailor won a silver medal in the Flying Dutchman class in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and was the skipper of Canada I in the 1983 America's Cup challenger series. In fact, three of his current crew were holdovers from that Cup campaign. These days his business is importing clothing and footwear from Ireland, and his sailing more relegated to only occasional racing.

In a new addition to the event, the team leading in points at the end of each day flew a "gold" spinnaker in the following day's races. The Royal Canadian team quickly took that honor after the first day and never relinquished it for the week.

McLaughlin was quick to praise his crew, "It was a team effort. I mean, I make the final decisions, but I'm relying on guys that A) make the boat go fast and B) tell me what's going on."

Ken Colburn was skipper of the New York Yacht Club team, the only really viable threat to the Royal Canadian Yacht Club through the five days of racing, coming within five points midweek. Colburn was pleased, "You have to step back from this and say 'we came in second in this regatta to a team that was just doing everything well.' You've got to walk away from that pleased, with just slight disappointment that you didn't get all the way there. The Royal Canadian Yacht Club are the ultimate winner, and they deserve it."

Like many of the teams that only managed to get everyone in the same boat relatively late, the NYYC crew started sailing together for the first time over Labor Day weekend but, according to their skipper, they quickly gelled. Colburn from Marblehead, Massachusetts, was adamant that his crew was equally responsible for their success, "This is a team sport and I'm only driving the boat most of the time. I need tacticians and trimmers and strategists and bow people to do their jobs well, and they all did them superbly well. They were sportsmanlike, cordial, competitive, and always working to win, I couldn't be more proud of this team."

Peter McChesney, skipper of the Annapolis Yacht Club team which finished third, summed up what many competitors agreed, "It was certainly, arguably, the most unique, special, exciting regatta. The professional circuits, and Olympic campaigns, and lot of great one-design classes, but certainly this is a new unbelievable regatta with worldwide excitement."

While the North American teams dominated the top five overall positions, with Eastern Yacht Club, and Newport Harbor Yacht Club in fourth and fifth, the first international entry was the sixth-placed Japan Sailing Federation, skippered by Makoto Uematsu, followed by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (GBR), Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL), Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, and Yacht Club Argentino (ARG), rounding out the top ten finishers.

Following the success of the inaugural event in 2009, Event Chairman John Mendez and his Invitational Cup committee set to make several changes to improve the competition. Among these were changing to an all-amateur event, and on-the-water umpiring, both of which were unanimously well received by the competitors. Peter Shrubb, Chief Umpire from Bermuda, oversaw the ten-umpire team. Shrubb was pleased with the results explaining, "We're on the water and adjudicating any rule infractions. We can't catch everything, but we'd like to think we caught 95%.  We resolve them on the water, and it saves the competitors having to file protests against each other – it take out of their hands, puts it into our hands and makes for a friendlier, more Corinthian event."

The final Rolex Awards Dinner was held under the marquee on the New York Yacht Club's Harbour Court grounds. Competitors and guests enjoyed dinner and dancing overlooking Newport Harbor.

The Royal Canadian Yacht Club team, overall winner of the Invitational Cup were awarded a Rolex Submariner timepiece and presented the Invitational Cup trophy, which was commissioned by NYYC Commodore Robert James and past NYYC Trustee, Charlie Robertson.

NYYC's Harbour Court hosted 22 yacht clubs – representing 16 nations from six different continents – for the second edition of this biennial event.  Racing was conducted in NYYC Swan 42s on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay from September 10-17, 2011. The next edition of the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex will be held in September 2013.

Final Results – 2011 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup

1) Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Canada, 47 points

2) New York Yacht Club, USA, 67 points

3) Annapolis Yacht Club, USA, 72 points

4) Eastern Yacht Club, USA, 89 points

5) Newport Harbor Yacht Club, USA, 105 points

6) Japan Sailing Federation, Japan, 105 points

7) Royal Ocean Racing Club, Great Britain, 112 points

8) Royal Cork Yacht Club, Ireland, 115 points

9) Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Hong Kong, 120 points

10) Yacht Club Argentino, Argentina, 121 points

11) Royal Yacht Squadron, Great Britain, 122 points

12) Nyländska Jaktklubben, Finland, 127 points

13) Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Australia, 133 points

14) Clube Naval de Cascais, Portugal, 137 points

15) Norddeutscher Regatta Verein, Germany, 138 points

16) Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Bermuda, 144 points

17) Royal Cape Yacht Club, South Africa, 148 points

18) Itchenor Sailing Club, Great Britain, 150 points

19) Royal Norwegian Yacht Club, Norway, 154 points

20) Yacht Club Capri, Italy, 167 points

21) Real Club Nautico de Barcelona, Spain, 197 points

22) Yacht Club Punta Ala, Italy, 220 points

Published in Racing

Royal Cork Yacht Club is seventh overall after scoring an impressive third place in yesterday's race nine of the New York Invitational Cup. The Anthony O'Leary skippered yacht moved from tenth to seventh after scores of 3 and 12 in the penultimate day of the competition yesterday. The Crosshaven crew is five points behind sixth place Japan, a team that have consistently held an advantage over the Irish crew this week.

The New York Chamber of Commerce could not have arranged a more spectacular day for the 22 competing yacht club teams, representing 16 nations from six continents, than what was delivered today after a cold front that passed through the area overnight left behind a classic New England fall day to tantalize competitors at the 2011 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex. And after sailing eight races over three days on courses set north of Newport's Pell Bridge, with the breeze from the north-northwest, and an ebb tide, the race committee made the decision to send the competitors out of the now-familiar Narragansett Bay to Rhode Island Sound for two races on the penultimate day of the series.

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Royal Cork YC's entry in the New York Cup skippered by Anthony O'Leary with tactics from son Nicholas Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Remarkably, the first race of the day saw yet another yacht club team winning a race. Eastern Yacht Club became the ninth race winner, in nine races, when they took over the lead early in the race and held it all the way to the finish line.

"It was a good one," said Bill Lynn, helm of the Eastern Yacht Club team of the race as he explained that the EYC sailors liked the conditions today. "I think we're fast , but I don't think we're the fastest boat here, so I think getting out into some shifty, variable breeze with not perfectly flat water, suits our style in these boats a little better. We finally got a great start, which is kind of nice. It was probably our best start of the series so far, and then we just were patient. When we came off the windward end [of the starting line] and tacked onto port there were an awful lot of boats on port way up inside us. It looked grim there for a while. But we were going to stick to our guns and wait it out. And we did, and the righty finally came in at the end and got us around the mark in third and then after that it was playing the shifts [to stay at the top]."

When Lynn's team got through the first gate, they split with the Royal Yacht Squadron. "Fortunately we sent them around the wrong gate and we went around the right gate. When the breeze shifted back left we were crossing them. After we went through the gate and started going back upwind it got super windy, our gage was showing low 20s, and it stayed that way for the rest of the race. When it [the breeze] came smoking back in half-way through, that wasn't in anybody's forecast."

Lynn went on to explain that in a northwest breeze, you have to sail your own race and not worry too much about the other boats. "You almost have to pretend there are no other boats on the course. It's not about winning every race in a northwester, its about not blowing one." For race two, Lynn characterized Eastern's start as good, but in the wrong place on the line. They would go on to finish sixth, and now have 82 points on the scoreboard to stand fifth overall, while tied on points with Newport Harbor Yacht Club which is currently fourth.

For the second day in a row, the final race of the day has been won by the Clube Naval de Cascais (CNC) from Portugal, making them the first team in the 10 races to repeat as a winner. At the helm of CNC is Patrick Monteiro de Barros, whose varied sailing resume includes representing his country at the Olympic Games (twice), as well as circumnavigating the globe (twice). CNC placed 21st in the earlier race today, and with 128 points lies 16th overall.

It would certainly seem that the artic air from home brought additional good fortune for Royal Canadian Yacht Club (RCYC), as they maintained their grip on the top-position in the overall standings. With finishes of 6-11 today, they not only have 46 points but also have increased the spread to 10 points over New York Yacht Club which has 56.

Annapolis Yacht Club has moved up to third overall on 68 points after finishing 4-2 today. Tactician John Torgerson compared the flukey conditions the AYC team is used to in Annapolis with what they saw today on Rhode Island Sound. "It was super-shifty for a while and we like that," said Torgerson. "We had a good idea of what we were going to do off the start and we executed it. For the first race it was light at the start. We saw as little as nine [knots] to as much as 22, it was a huge range. You just had to be able to shift gears. We have guys that are really good at figuring it out." AYC's strategy for the final day of racing is to "just go out and sail" and hope that the two teams above and below them take each other out.

The eleventh and final race of the series will be held tomorrow, Saturday, September 17, and is scheduled for 1100. It will be preceded by the fleet parading through Newport harbor at 0900, with competitors leaving NYYC's Harbour Court at approximately 0830. The winner of the 2011 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex will be confirmed at the conclusion of racing.


Published in Racing

Anthony O'Leary's Royal Cork Yacht Club crew stay in the top ten overall after scoring two double digit results yesterday at the Rolex New York Invitational Cup. The Crosshaven crew counted a 20 and a 15 in the 22-boat fleet.

After several days of late summer breeze and sunshine, thick fog rolled into Narragansett Bay, greeting competitors of the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex and forcing a short postponement to today's racing. Twenty-two yacht club teams from 16 countries are here in Newport to contest the second edition of this biennial event.

After a delay of just under an hour, the fleet were sent up Narragansett Bay, north of the Newport Bridge where the flat water and 10-knot south-southwesterly built to a perfect 12-15 knots by the afternoon.

Yesterday after six races were completed, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club team, skippered by Olympic silver medalist Terry McLaughlin, had a solid lock on the top of the leader board with a 13-point advantage over the New York Yacht Club team.

But with a fleet this deep in talent, one bad race and a double-digit advantage can be whittled down. As McLaughlin presciently said yesterday, "That can disappear in a real hurry." Meanwhile the NYYC team, led by Ken Colburn with Phil Lotz, the 2009 Invitational Cup winner, as tactician kept their focus with fourth and second place finishes today and closed the gap with Canada to five points.

While Lotz' recap of their races sounded pretty matter-of-fact, the American team worked hard to get a good start on the right side and found a lane there that enabled them to tack when they wanted. Lotz said, "We were lucky enough that the right paid off and we kept our nose clean and got around the course. We were fortunate enough to get to the right side early." But with three more races planned, he was quick to add, "I think with a shifty nor'west tomorrow, it's anybody's game. Bad races are just as possible as good races. If it's more breeze and shifty, it's going to be a boat handling issue, and keeping your head out of the boat and seeing where the shifts are, and making sure you're going in the right direction."

Newport Harbor Yacht Club edged past Annapolis Yacht Club today to stand in third place overall.

The group of teams with first place finishes grew today with eight unique winners over the same number of races. Two boats that had barely cracked a top ten finish prevailed today: the German team from Norddeutscher Regatta Verein and Clube Naval de Cascais from Portugal.

For Patrick de Barros' Portuguese team, it all came together on the last race where they got off the start line well-positioned, rounded the weather mark in third, and then went to the left side of the course where they got in front and held their lead. Although NYYC team threatened, CN de Cascais covered them very closely at the finish and crossed ahead. Clearly buoyed by their performance de Barros said, "We have the speed, now we start to know how the boat functions. It's a very challenging course, a good course, but challenging. It's been really fantastic, we've enjoyed every minute."

The Royal Yacht Squadron enjoyed a good bump up the standings going from 11th to seventh. Helmsman Glyn Williams explained, "I was a little disappointed after yesterday's sailing, as I didn't feel we sailed to the potential. The team had done a lot of sailing together and we were just making unforced errors early in the week. So our first race today, we got cleanly off the line. At the top mark, we did a gybe set, which was incredibly clean and put us in the hunt. I told the team this morning that yesterday Annapolis moved from tenth to third, so there're options to go up in a series like this. The crew did a great job today!"

Oliver Stanley, RYS team captain, spoke of the competition, "I think the standard of sailing is as high as you get in any amateur regatta, anywhere in the world. It's a great privilege to be here -- make one mistake and you lose six places."

Stanley was with the team at the 2009 Invitational Cup event, when the RYS finished in 16th place overall. He recalled, "Given our finish, we weren't invited back on merit. We were invited on ancestry, history and tradition. It's very important that we're invited back on merit this time. We really want to be automatically invited, to have a top five finish. We'd be over the moon with that."

Racing continues tomorrow Friday through Saturday 16 - 17 September. Tomorrow's first warning signal is scheduled for 11:00 am.

Results after 8 races:
Team - Country - Points
1. Royal Canadian, CAN, 29
2. New York, USA, 34
3. Newport Harbor, USA, 61
4. Annapolis, USA, 63
5. Royal Hong Kong, HKG, 70
6. Eastern, USA, 76
7. Royal Yacht Squadron, GBR, 77
8. Japan, JPN, 80
9. Royal Cork, IRL, 86
10. YC Argentino, ARG, 89
11. Royal Ocean Racing Club, GBR, 91
12. CYC Australia, AUS, 95
13. NRV, GER, 99
14. Royal Norwegian, NOR, 102
15. Royal Cape, RSA, 104
16. CN de Cascais, POR, 106
17. Royal Bermuda, BER, 106
18. NJK, FIN, 112
19. Itchenor, GBR, 116
20. YC Capri, ITA, 123
21. RCN Barcelona, ESP, 148
22. YC Punta Ala, ITA, 160

The 22 entrants
By country, the roster of participating teams is: Yacht Club Argentino (ARG); Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (AUS); Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER); Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN); Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (HKG); Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP); Nyländska Jaktklubben (FIN); Itchenor Sailing Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR); Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER); Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL); Yacht Club Capri and Yacht Club Punta Ala (ITA); Japan Sailing Federation (JPN); Royal Norwegian Yacht Club (NOR); Clube Naval de Cascais (POR); Royal Cape Yacht Club (RSA); Eastern Yacht Club, Annapolis Yacht Club, Newport Harbor Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club (USA).


Published in Racing

Ireland's Royal Cork Yacht Club moved up two places overall in the Rolex New York Invitational Cup yesterday after scoring 3,10 and 11 in the 22 boat fleet yesterday. The Anthony O'Leary skppered boat is just three points behind Japan who ties for fourth place after six races with the Newport harbour team on 48 points. Third place is Annapolis Yacht Club on 43 points.

Returning to upper Narragansett Bay for the second day of the fixture has proven beneficial for at least one of the 22 yacht club teams – Royal Canadian Yacht Club – which again displayed remarkable consistency on the race course. And in a repeat of yesterday's prevailing theme of tight competition, today's three races were won by three different clubs which means that there have been no duplicate winners thus far in the six-race series.

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A keen start yesterday. Royal Cork is bow number three. Photo:Dan Nerney/Rolex

"We were probably the biggest movers," said Peter McChesney, helm for the Annapolis Yacht Club team who has only sailed in Newport a handful of times previously, including the the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup U.S. Qualifying Series in 2010 in which the AYC team finished second to earn the opportunity to race in this event. AYC was 10th overall after yesterday's first day of racing, and moved up to third overall with 43 points after finishes of 6-1-3 today. "We just got off the line better today in every race, and gave our tactician [John Torgerson] the opportunity to make good decisions. If you get a good start it's easier to make those decisions. Our tactician took what we gave him and did a great job of calling tactics, and the crew work was essentially flawless. Everything just went our way."

The exciting conditions seen today on Narragansett Bay have also proven why Newport remains such a unique place to sail. "Where else can you sail in 20 knots of breeze and have the seas be this flat?," said Chip Whipple, timmer on the New York Yacht Club team. "It really is an anomaly. When you have as much breeze as this [in the Med] you're sailing in big seas and a lot of swell. And in northern Europe you have the cold water and big seas, breaking waves. Being as protected as we are here it's just an extremely fantastic place to sail, and the boats can't sail any faster because they are absolutely optimized for the conditions."

The Royal Canadian Yacht Club (RCYC) team has retained the overall lead position after adding finishes of 2-4-2 to yesterday's finishes of 2-1-4 for 15 points. When they won the second race on the first day of the contest, they were given the Rolex gold spinnaker to fly in the subsequent race. And, as overall standings leader, RCYC carried the golden chute for all of today's races, and will continue that way when racing resumes tomorrow.

"We had to bail on two starts," said RCYC helm Terry McLaughlin after racing today, explaining that the RCYC team was forced to tack in both instances but the moves wound up working in their favor. "It was good breeze most of the day and we were going well. We're trying to do all the fundamentals well and not make mistakes." With eleven races planned, and tough competition, McLaughlin knows all to well that the 13-point lead RCYC currently enjoys can disappear in a hurry. "We had a good battle with NYYC in the last race, caught up to them on the last leg. It was close, but they beat us by three boat lengths."

"The last race was a lot of fun," said Ken Colburn, skipper of the New York Yacht Club team when summing up their win of the final race of the day. NYYC now stands second overall with 28 points, 13 points behind RCYC. "We had a great start, found ourselves in a clean lane and just were able to get in the proper groove. RCYC was there every inch of the race. We stayed together . . . gapped the fleet . . . for both of us it was just a fabulous race." Emphasizing that there was still a lot of racing to come, Colburn noted that, as anticipated, the quality and depth of the competition is remarkable. "Six winners in six races is indicative of how strong this fleet is overall."

Racing resumes today Thursday, September 15, with the warning signal for the first race scheduled for 1100. Competitors leave NYYC's Harbour Court for the race course at approximately 0930 each morning. The winner of the 2011 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex will be confirmed at the conclusion of racing on Saturday, September 17.

Published in Racing

Except for an opening race shocker, Royal Cork's Anthony OLeary is counting an excellent third and a fourth from yesterday's races two and three at New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup to lie eighth, one place ahead of the Royal Yacht Squadron in a fleet of 22 entries.

After several practice days spent familiarising themselves with the boats and local sailing conditions, the 22 yacht club teams were unleashed for the first day of racing in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex. The event is hosted by the New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court, their on-the-water clubhouse in Newport, Rhode Island.

 

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A fleet start yesterday in New York. Photo: Kurt Arrigo/Rolex

For the first day of racing, the NYYC Race Committee opted to send the fleet "inside", up Narragansett Bay. The south-southwest breeze ranged from seven to eight knots, building to the higher teens by the afternoon, and providing perfect conditions for the three races contested. The prevailing wind against an ebbing current kept tacticians in check, though if local knowledge was key you couldn't tell from the results, with teams from the Japan Sailing Federation, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia each taking a win today – and the Canadians at the top of the leaderboard at day's end.

But it was also kudos to the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup organizers for including several days of practice sailing to get teams up to speed on the Swan 42s, as this one-design given by the technical team, as well as local knowledge briefing provided by Sail Newport Executive Director, Brad Read.

Some teams put the information to use more effectively than others. Patrick Pender, helmsman on the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club entry which is standing 2nd overall after today said, "It was a great first day for us. I think what was a great thing for the series was that they had a lot of practice racing and allowed the people to really learn how to sail the boat. Often you go to regattas and by the end of the regatta you go, 'crikey, we're ready to go now'. They did a fabulous job yesterday of giving a really, really good explanation about how the tides work both inside (the Bay) and outside. Obviously outside is much more complicated, whereas I think it's probably more predictable up the bay."

Pender's team managed a 3-8-2 today and the helmsman was quick to credit his crew, "The crew's doing an awesome job, mechanically the guys are working very hard. We did a really difficult drop on the last race, coming in hot and fast to the left-hand gate. It was a hard maneuver and we got clear air, had a really good rounding. We sailed very well on the last short beat and protected a good second place finish."

The Japanese entry is one of several returning entries. Having posted a third overall in the 2009 event, the teams' tactician Elichiro Hamazaki, said they are focused on a top three finish again. With a race one win they were on track, but the subsequent 7-9 showed how tough the talent is here. Hamazaki recounted, "We had a good upwind beat, we had a good right-hand shift and kept first position from the top mark. In the second and third races as the wind picked up, the other boats were very consistent and close. Once we made a mistake, we fell behind."

He added, "Especially racing on the inside course, the area is surrounded by shore and the wind is tricky and has big effects of current.  It was difficult, but it is very exciting in this one-design class – it's really close, very competitive."

The on-the-water umpiring, introduced for this edition of the Invitational Cup, was put into play today with a half dozen calls made on the water, which served their purpose of eliminating the inevitable protest hearings back onshore.

Winning race three was the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's entry. Helmsman Hugo Van Kretschmar set his sights on a return to Newport, as his last time was 1983 when he competed in the America's Cup challenger trials onboard the Australian entry, Challenge 12.

Van Kretschmar is part of a group of friends who sail on CYCA Commodore Gary Linacre's and David Fuller's Corby 49. He heard that the CYCA had been invited to compete at the Invitational Cup and hatched a plan to make it happen. Van Kretschmar said "So five of us off the back of Gary's boat decided that we'd like to go and do this thing and we thought we'd like to combine it with the Youth Sailing Academy out of the CYCA.  So we have four 'kids' onboard, they're all graduates of the program so 22-, 23-, 24-year olds. So the group was five buddies and four kids out of the Academy. Most of us sailed together in different configurations on different boats and races before, but here in Newport was actually the first time we all sailed together as a team.

Commodore Gary Linacre, who's raced in numerous Rolex Sydney Hobart races, was an enthusiastic supporter of the team, and said, "We looked at the whole deal and I said I'd get behind it as Commodore and do what I could. The three of us (including Van Kretschmar and Fuller) have sailed together lot over the years and we and just decided it's such a wonderful event. The Corinthian nature of it was really worthwhile doing, and so we decided to come here."

Van Kretschmer has another reason for a return to this sailing mecca, " I never saw anything in Newport when I was here in '83. We were on strict lockdown and at the gym at something like five in the morning!"

Racing continues today Wednesday 14 September through Saturday 17 September. Tomorrow's first warning signal will be at 11:00 am.

In addition to Rolex, which for 2011 and 2013 is the presenting sponsor, Sperry Top-Sider and Nautor's Swan have also returned, and are joined by Atlantis WeatherGear, as sponsors to enhance the experience of competitors as well as those who will be following the races.

The 22 entrants
By country, the roster of participating teams is: Yacht Club Argentino (ARG); Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (AUS); Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER); Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN); Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (HKG); Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP); Nyländska Jaktklubben (FIN); Itchenor Sailing Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR); Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER); Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL); Yacht Club Capri and Yacht Club Punta Ala (ITA); Japan Sailing Federation (JPN); Royal Norwegian Yacht Club (NOR); Clube Naval de Cascais (POR); Royal Cape Yacht Club (RSA); Eastern Yacht Club, Annapolis Yacht Club, Newport Harbor Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club (USA).

Published in Racing

Anthony O'Leary's crew are all set for tomorrow's start of the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup as sole Irish crew representing Royal Cork Yacht Club in the Big Apple.

The grounds of New York Yacht Club's renowned Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport, Rhode Island, were filled with sailors from around the world, who are set to begin racing tomorrow in the second biennial Invitational Cup presented by Rolex.

The 22 teams, representing yacht clubs from 16 nations and six continents, have traveled far and wide to get to Newport. The teams, especially those less familiar with the Swan 42 class, enjoyed several perfect practice days with today's 12-14 knot southwesterly breeze, under sunshine and brilliant blue skies, appreciated by all competitors, especially those from some more sunshine-challenged locales

The Swan 42s, an ultra competitive one-design class, were conceived by the NYYC as the yacht club's ninth one-design class since its' founding in 1844. The New York Yacht Club Race Committee, led by John "Tinker" Myles, Jr. ran several practice starts today for the fleet.

Racing will run from Tuesday, 13 September through Saturday, 17 September. A total of eleven (windward-leeward) races are planned, with no throw-outs. Racing will take place off Newport, R.I. on Rhode Island Sound or in Narragansett Bay.

One of the first teams to arrive in Newport was Clube Naval de Cascais from Portugal, with skipper Patrick Moteiro de Barros. The team has been on-site for over a week practicing on their chartered Swan 42 Orbit, and making the most of coach Bill Shore's expertise and local knowledge. de Barros commented, "The goal is to do the best we can, and we're here to win. We may not win, but that's the motivation."

To that end de Barros, who is a four-time Olympian, has assembled a crew that at its' core are very competitive Dragon sailors. Included in this mix is tactician Henrique Anjos, a three-time Portuguese national champion in the class. With no Swan 42s available locally, the team came up with a clever alternative last spring, chartering a Dufour 40, and adding a bowsprit to it so they could fly an asymetrical spinnaker.

De Barros is no stranger to Newport, having sailed here in the 1980s when he was the helmsman on Magic, the trial horse for Dennis Conner's Freedom. The team had hoped to participate two years ago, but couldn't come, and the appeal of the event is clear to de Barros who added, "The Invitational Cup is totally Corinthian, and I think it's important to have events where the amateurs are recognized. This is one of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the world, and I think events like this should carry on."

From further afield is the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club team with skipper Nick Burns. Sailing onboard is Jochim Isler, Vice Commodore of the club and a frequent competitor in the RHKYC's signature biennial Rolex China Sea Race. As with many of the other clubs, the teams experience is in a mix of big boats and one-designs, in this case Etchells. Burns and Isler often compete against each other, but they've solidified their strengths as well as recruited 10 of the top 20 sailors in the club for the team.

In the 2009 event, Royal Hong Kong finished 11th; but last summer they sailed in the Rolex Commodore's Cup and finished second, which Isler said gave them the confidence and motivation to give it a try again.

Burns added, "We came a long way for this, it's great. The event is tightening up (rules) year-by-year, which is what you need. They're doing a very equal job with the boats, it's a very good system. You have nothing to blame but yourself!"

One of the Southern hemisphere teams competing is the Yacht Club Argentino with Paolo Cosentino as helmsman. YCA Commodore Ricardo Galarce is racing onboard as trimmer, and the two were clearly delighted to be here, "This is our first visit and I tell you we are amazed, we want to live here, we're going to stay here."

Cosentino said, "We sail two boats that are similar (a Frers 44 and a Soto 43). We trained about 10 days in Buenos Aires (in the river) and Mar del Plata, where you can sail in the sea.  We feel comfortable, but need to train a little more – we've had these three days here, so we'll arrive tomorrow at about 80% of our standard.

"For us we are very proud of being invited by this club. We have a lot of tradition also, our club is almost 130 years old and for us being here is a very special situation – we are very proud."

For NYYC Invitational Cup Event Chairman, John Mendez tomorrow's start couldn't come soon enough, "I'm absolutely delighted. To be honest it's been a long build-up, it's been two years getting this going and to see all of the teams arrive and to meet with them – their excitement and enthusiasm -- has really set this off for me. I feel a lot more relaxed about the whole event!"

About half of the yacht club teams that competed in 2009 are back again, including the top five. Mendez continued, "We still have a lot of interest from yacht clubs that are not here and as this has grown they'll be a lot more who'll want to participate next time. I see the competition this time being stiffer than last time – it has been raised to another level. I think we'll see some exciting racing.

"This is key to each one of these clubs – they all have the intention of taking the trophy back with them. I'm afraid we can't cut it into pieces! But, I could see the trophy leaving our shores at the end of the week."

This edition features a couple of significant changes including a move to all-amateur sailors (no professionals) and on-the-water umpiring. Of the latter Mendez points out, "That's a very big leap forward for fleet racing. We want people to sail safely and the umpiring is definitely going to help that."

In addition to Rolex, which for 2011 and 2013 is the presenting sponsor, Sperry Top-Sider and Nautor's Swan have also returned, and are joined by Atlantis WeatherGear, as sponsors to enhance the experience of competitors as well as those who will be following the races.

The 22 entrants
By country, the roster of participating teams is: Yacht Club Argentino (ARG); Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (AUS); Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER); Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN); Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (CHN); Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP); Nyländska Jaktklubben (FIN); Itchenor Sailing Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR); Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER); Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL); Yacht Club Capri and Yacht Club Punta Ala (ITA); Japan Sailing Federation (JPN); Royal Norwegian Yacht Club (NOR); Clube Naval de Cascais (POR); Royal Cape Yacht Club (RSA); Eastern Yacht Club, Annapolis Yacht Club, Newport Harbor Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club (USA)

Published in Racing

Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary returns to New York's Invitational Cup next week for another crack at the Rolex event that has attracted 22 teams.

Despite no previous experience with the Swan 42, Anthony O'Leary's team from the Royal Cork Yacht Club got off to a blazing start at the 2009 Invitational Cup, scoring a third and two firsts in the opening three races. From there the team rode a bit of a roller coaster with three more top-five finishes, a 13th, and two 17ths. The end result was fifth, a bit disappointing given the quick start, but respectable, nonetheless. More importantly, it earned O'Leary and his team a return invitation.

When racing begins on Tuesday, September 13, at the 2011 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, most of the 22 participating yacht club teams will be fresh from racing at the peak of the sailing season in the northern hemisphere.

Last year, O'Leary was named the Afloat Irish Independent Sailor of the Year for, in part, leading the Irish team to the win at the 2010 Rolex Commodore's Cup.

"We will continue to sail [the Ker 39] Antix up to mid-season in handicap fleets, as our boat is similar in characteristics to the Swan 42," says O'Leary of his preparations for the Invitational Cup. "Closer to September we will focus more on one-design sailing, which is really the ultimate challenge as shown in the Invitational Cup. Apart from our not finishing on the podium, there was not a single disappointing aspect of the 2009 regatta. The entire event was a great experience, superbly organized by a wonderful club."

O'Leary was still assembling his crew, but it will surely include some family members. Son Peter O'Leary sailed in the 2008 Olympics in the Star class while Nicholas O'Leary, a three-time All-Ireland sailing champion, served as the team's tactician during the 2009 Invitational Cup.

Three teams though – the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Royal Cape Yacht Club and Yacht Club Argentino – which hail from below the equator, will be coming from winter to summer to race in Swan 42s for the championship title. "It is an honor for the Yacht Club Argentino (YCA) to participate this coming September," said Commodore Ricardo Galarce. "We are proud of sharing such an important regatta with well-known clubs from different parts of the world.

Besides, it is nice to share with all of them the same objective of competing with fair play and sailing which is what we love doing. We will go to New York Yacht Club's Harbour Court ready to have fun, but we will be doing our best effort to take the cup back to our beloved YCA in Buenos Aires." Galarce explained that even though it is winter in Argentina, the weather is not so cold and the sailors are used to sailing in this season. After the invitation to the event was published in the YCA magazine, any club member who wanted to join the team was encouraged to do so. A team selection was then made taking into account sailing resumes, technical skills and personalities, in order to form a complete, competitive and compatible crew.

Because there was a boat similar to the Swan 42 available for their use in Mar del Plata, the YCA team traveled 400 km to spend a weekend there performing intensive training, "with very good results and lots of learning as regards each of the crew members' functions and movements," said Galarce. "We then carried on our training in Buenos Aires, always trying to sail in boats similar to the Swan 42, which we know is an excellent boat, which demands a lot from its crew." With only two of the crew having previously sailed in Newport – Santiago Braun and Francisco Billoch who each sailed the Onion Patch Series in 1972 – the YCA team is studying the weather forecasts, tides and winds, in order to gain some local knowledge. And the team hopes to become familiar with the Swan 42 in the short time between their arrival and the start of the Invitational Cup. "We know it won't be an easy regatta," concluded Galarce. "We are proud of being able to sail alongside sailors who belong to the most distinguished sailing clubs in the world. We wish them all good luck, and we hope to share great fun on the water."

In Australia where the average sailing temperature for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's (CYCA) winter series is 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), sailing is a year-round activity, and all of the CYCA team members race throughout the year in various club events. Most of the CYCA crew that will travel to Rhode Island sailed together for the first time in April on the Corby 49 Vamp in the New South Wales IRC championships, finishing third overall. Vamp then finished second in Division 1 in the recently concluded CYCA Winter series. "None of us have experience in the Swan 42s although most have sailed in similarly equipped and designed yachts over a range of sizes up to the TP52 class," said David Fuller, CYCA Team Manager. "Whereas we have not had many opportunities to sail together, most of our crew have continued to sharpen their skills on other boats in the various races and regattas along the Australian coast and overseas." CYCA tactician Evan Walker is one of those who have been away from Sydney, having recently been at Weymouth, England, to coach an Elliot 6m team at the 2012 Olympic test event.

Before coming to Newport, however, Walker will be racing as tactician in the Cartagena round of the Audi MedCup with an Australian Soto 40 team. "Hopefully the week of sailing as tactician in Spain will have me hitting my straps by the time I arrive in Newport," said Walker, a CYCA Youth Academy graduate who has seen success as a match racing skipper. "I'm very excited to be competing in the Invitational Cup and I'm sure we'll have an enthusiastic team bonding session on our arrival in Newport." David Hudson, skipper of the team from the Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC) in South Africa was also at the Olympic test event. "Regarding our preparation for the Invitational Cup, it's obviously not as convenient for us as it would be if the event took place towards the end of our racing season," said Hudson. "However, winter training in Cape Town is perfectly feasible from a weather point of view. At 34 degrees south we have a Mediterranean climate with warm dry summers and cold wet winters, and although we have recently had some snow on the mountains just to the east of our sailing waters, Cape Town seldom gets really cold."

And while none of the RCYC team has any experience racing Swan 42s, they too have been training on a variety of boats of similar size. "We are all looking forward to the challenge," said Hudson. John Martin, RCYC's Commodore and team manager, lived on yachts from the age of eight and cut his teeth in 1971 aboard a new Swan 37 imported to South Africa specifically to do the Cape to Rio race, starting as bowman and working his way back. So it is very apt for him to be sailing a Swan 42 in this regatta, all these years later.

Not only is Martin the most famous yachtsman in South Africa but also he is well-known internationally. "Newport has great memories for me," said Martin. "During my single- and double-handed sailing career, 1981–1991, I had the honor of winning a few races, most importantly, winning the last leg of the 1986/87 BOC Singlehanded Round the World Race which finished in Newport. It is with great delight that I return with a very competent and competitive sailing team to represent the club of which I have been Commodore for the past three years."

An official practice for the 22 yacht club teams will take place on Monday, September 12, from 1300-1700, followed by the opening ceremony for the Invitational Cup. Five days of racing will ensue, with the first warning signal scheduled for 1100 each day.

The winning team will be confirmed at the conclusion of racing on Saturday, September 17. In addition to Rolex, which for 2011 and 2013 is the presenting sponsor, Sperry Top-Sider and Nautor's Swan have also returned, and are joined by Atlantis WeatherGear, as sponsors to enhance the experience of competitors as well as those who will be following the races.

The New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex NYYC's Harbour Court will host 22 yacht club teams – representing 16 nations from six different continents – with racing on NYYC Swan 42s on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay from September 10-17, 2011. By country, the roster of participating teams is: Yacht Club Argentino (ARG); Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (AUS); Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (BER); Royal Canadian Yacht Club (CAN); Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (HKG); Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP); Nyländska Jaktklubben (FIN); Itchenor Sailing Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR); Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER); Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL); Yacht Club Capri and Yacht Club Punta Ala (ITA); Japan Sailing Federation (JPN); Royal Norwegian Yacht Club (NOR); Clube Naval de Cascais (POR); Royal Cape Yacht Club (RSA); and Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, Mass.); Annapolis Yacht Club (Annapolis, Md.); Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Newport Beach, Calif.); and New York Yacht Club (Newport, R.I.) from the USA.

Published in Royal Cork YC
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