Invitations have been accepted. The entry list defined. Team selection well underway. The second New York Yacht Club (NYYC) Invitational Cup presented by Rolex is now less than two months away. The excitement and anticipation are palpable.
The waters off Newport, Rhode Island, provide the setting for this sailing event that promotes a level playing field and a Corinthian spirit. The competition will take place from 10-17 September 2011 and is strictly limited to non-professional sailors tackling a one-design class: the NYYC Swan 42. For each team, all but two of the crew must be nationals of the country and members of the club they represent. While the host club provides many of the yachts used in the competition, some invited yacht teams may bring their own boats. Even so, all rigs are identically tuned and locked down, and sails are provided by the organisers. It is an egalitarian contest: the winning team is the one that most skilfully manages its yacht, the opposition and the conditions.
Invitations extended? Following a successful and popular inaugural edition in 2009, the NYYC increased the number of invitations from the 19 teams that were extended two years ago: 22 yachts representing 16 nations from six continents will be present, a global contest in every sense. Amongst the list are the top five finishers from the previous edition: New York Yacht Club (hosts of the event and winners in 2009), Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Japan Sailing Federation, Nyländska Jaktklubben of Finland and Ireland’s Royal Cork Yacht Club.
“The essence of the regatta is to bring together Corinthian yacht club teams in a competition that not only is tough and demanding but also levels the playing field,” explains past NYYC Commodore David K Elwell Jr. “The response to, and the outcome of, the 2009 event were greater than we could ever have expected.”
A whole host of clubs sought invitations for this year’s contest, reflecting how much it caught the imagination of yachtsmen around the globe. “The event promises to showcase the finest amateur sailors in the world. The opportunity to race at such a high level of competition has encouraged many clubs to seek an invitation, for where else can they take their best club racers and compete against national and international champions, even America’s Cup legends, on an equal basis?” reveals Event Chair John Mendez.
Fifth place in 2009, the Royal Cork Yacht Club team are advanced in their arrangements, skippered as in 2009, by Anthony O’Leary, the Captain of the Irish team that won the 2010 Rolex Commodore’s Cup and the winner of the Afloat/Irish Independent Sailor of the Year Award 2010, will bring along the crew that helped steer Ireland to an impressive win in that event. This includes his sons, Nicholas and Robert. O’Leary’s team had no experience in the Swan 42 class prior to 2009 and has not sailed one since. Preparations will, therefore, be finely tuned nearer to the event: “Closer to September we will focus more on one-design sailing which is really the ultimate challenge in the Invitational Cup.” O’Leary is looking forward to improving on the 2009’s fifth place finish: “The entire event was a great experience – strict one-design sailing in a truly international event, superbly organised by a wonderful club.
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); and Eastern Yacht Club, Annapolis Yacht Club, Newport Harbor Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club (USA).