Anthony O'Leary's fifth time a the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup at Newport, R.I has opened with a fourth overall position for the Royal Cork Yacht Club entry. After three races in a fresh southwesterly breeze, Southern Yacht Club and Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron stand first and second in the regatta, with five and seven points, respectively.
Click here for the overall results.
Amateur sailors representing 14 yacht clubs from eight countries from around the globe have converged on Newport to race in the ultimate one-design, big-boat competition. The boats and sails are provided and the rig tune is standardized across the fleet.
After qualifying by winning last September's Resolute Cup, Southern Yacht Club has spared no expense nor effort to prepare its team for the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup. The Club syndicate purchased a Swan 42 and competed in a number of regattas this past summer. The results of this hard work were immediately obvious today as Southern Yacht Club, with Marcus Eagan at the helm and 2004 Olympic silver medalists John Lovell calling tactics, took second in the first race, second in the second and then added a first in a third.
"We have a good team," said Lovell, a four-time Olympian in the Tornado class. "We’ve been practicing. Andrew [Eagan]’s trimming the jib really well. We’re really excited and hoping to stay in that top group. I’m sure we’re going to have one of those days where we get in the back a couple times. We had a couple crosses where we barely made it, and if we hadn’t we would have been pack in the pack. So everything just seemed to go right today."
On the other hand, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, the helmsman for the Royal Sydney team, hadn't laid a hand on the wheel of the Swan 42 for two years when he showed up for the first day of practice on Saturday. And his team hasn't spent a lot of time sailing together. But that didn't stop them from winning the first race and then adding a pair of thirds for a comfortable second place in the overall standings.
"It’s so nice to have a group of guys to come together," said Belgiorno-Nettis. "They were all sailors for a long time, but we had hadn’t actually sailed together as a team. They just dug deep, and we figured out the way pretty quickly by the looks of things."
But the wiry Australian—of Italian descent—was quick point out that prior success is no indication of future performance. And that there are four days left in this event.
"I'm sure we’re going to go backwards in other races because it’s natural," he added. "You can’t do great work every day in every regatta. I've been to too many. I think for us it was a good moral lift to be able to be successful today, we’re happy to end out in the front end. The guys are enjoying it. The New York Yacht Club puts on one of the best regattas in the world, if not the best."
Eastern Yacht Club finished strong with a second in the the third race and currently sits third, with 13 points. Rounding out the top five are Royal Cork Yacht Club—a five-time Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup competitor—and the defending champions from Royal Thames Yacht Club.
The biggest cheer in the tent today, however, went to a team that currently sits sixth. After 45 races over four regattas, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club team finally won its first Invitational Cup race in the day's second contest. Few teams have matched the passion of the RHKYC, which always shows up determined to have a good time and has succeeded each time, no matter the final results.