Although the New York Yacht Club was founded as “recently” as 1844, it’s regarded in the senior yacht club in the USA, as is the Royal Cork in Ireland - and the world too, come to that, with the RCYC’s unrivalled foundation in 1720 writes W M Nixon. But in England things aren’t so simple (as we’ve been learning only too well during the past three years), for although the Royal Thames in London dates back to 1775, it’s regarded as the senior club, while the ever-so-grand Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes – not founded until 1815 – is regarded as the premier club.
Be that as it may, when the New York YC set up its International Invitational Series for amateur crews six years ago, it cast around to make it truly international and simply went straight to the senior clubs in each country for the crew selection, though the lineup would suggest there’s some flexibility in the final assembly.
The outcome is that today in Newport Rhode Island there are 20 crews from almost every continent taking to the water off the NYYC’s rather splendid out-station of Harbour Court. And after some years of racing in the relative comfort of Club Swan 42s, for the first time they’re going to be sailing the new Melges IC37, pretty much an out-and-out raceboat designed by Mark Mills of Wicklow, and now well into a building programme with Westerly Marine in California, and FIBRE Mechanics in the UK.
The Royal Cork’s crew will be headed by Anthony O’Leary, who became the one of the youngest-ever RCYC Admirals back in 2000, but has put in much prodigious sailing achievement ever since. Although he’s best known these days for 1720 campaigning – both in the straight class and with the “cruiserfied” version Antix Bheag for IRC racing – he has cut the mustard internationally with major success in larger craft.
So who knows, but maybe the next five days of top end international Corinthian sport off Newport might be one of the first steps towards getting an IC37 class off the ground at Crosshaven, although we’d expect advocates of that notion to have been busy already.