New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup New York, N.Y., USA: The luck of the Irish will play a big part in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, September 15-19, since not one but two teams from Ireland will be competing. For the chance of winning bragging rights and a new trophy, members of Ireland’s Royal Cork Yacht Club (RCYC) – the world’s oldest yacht club, founded in 1720 – and the Royal St. George Yacht Club will each field a team of amateur sailors and travel thousands of miles to Harbour Court, the New York Yacht Club’s on-the-water clubhouse. A total of 19 yacht clubs from 14 countries will be sailing in the inaugural event.
Royal St. George Yacht Club ”We don’t have any Swan 42s in Ireland,” said David McHugh, a member of the Royal St. George Yacht Club’s entry, about the one-design being used for the event. “We don’t feel it’s necessarily a total disadvantage because with a roller-furling jib, asymmetric spinnaker, and no rig tuning or electronics, it will be a very level playing field.” Instead, he said, success in this 19-boat one-design fleet will come down to “positioning, strategy, and getting around the racecourse in the most efficient way possible.”
To accomplish this task, McHugh and his teammates will rely heavily upon the skills of their skipper, Michael Cotter, a Dragon class champion and regular on the Mediterranean Maxi circuit with his 80-footer Whisper.
Their selected pro is Maurice O’Connell, a former Olympic Star sailor and head of North Sails Ireland.
And while many teams may choose to sail with the maximum 11 crewmembers, Cotter’s squad will sail with nine. The roster includes Michael Liddy, who has broken two speed-sailing records, singlehanded and crewed, and has won the doublehanded Round Britain and Ireland Race. Other team members include three veterans of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s amateur-based Rolex Commodore’s Cup competition: Kevin Johnston (Rolex Fastnet Race winner), Barry Byrne, and Brendan Fafaini. Andrew Fowler, an experienced team- and match-racing sailor, and Peter Wilson, Whisper’s mainsheet trimmer, complete the team.
From Royal Cork Yacht Club Six skippers expressed their desire to represent the club, but in consideration of the success Anthony O’Leary and his teammates have enjoyed over the past few years, particularly at the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s amateur-based Rolex Commodore’s Cup competition, the 53-year-old skipper was selected.
To fill out his squad for the Invitational Cup, O’Leary didn’t have to look too far down the club’s membership roster; he has tapped his regular crew from the Cork 1720 Antix, a 26-foot sportboat that the O’Leary family has campaigned over the years. He then plugged in some top crew from Ireland’s Rolex Commodore’s Cup squad and was sure to add his 23-year-old son, Nicholas O’Leary, an Irish Sailing Association All-Ireland Sailing Champion, as tactician. Longtime crew Tom Durcan will tend to the mainsail, and Clive O’Shea will be in the jib trimmer’s slot. The father-and-son duo of Clayton Love and the younger David Love will tend the jib and mast, respectively, while Brian Lennon will handle the spinnaker sheets. Ritchie Watkins will command the bow.
The complete list of competing clubs is as follows: Japan Sailing Federation (Tokyo, Japan) New York Yacht Club (New York, N.Y., USA) Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (Hamburg, Germany) Nylandska Jaktklubben (Helsinki, Finland) Real Club Nautico Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (Hamilton, Bermuda) Royal Canadian Yacht Club (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) Royal Cork Yacht Club (County Cork, Ireland) Royal Danish Yacht Club (Hellerup, Denmark) Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (Hong Kong, China) Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (Auckland, New Zealand) Royal Ocean Racing Club (London, England) Royal St. George Yacht Club (County Dublin, Ireland) Royal Thames Yacht Club (London, England) Royal Yacht Squadron (London, England) St. Francis Yacht Club (San Francisco, Calif., USA) Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (Porto Cervo, Sardinia, Italy) Yacht Club de France (Paris, France) Yacht Club Italiano (Genoa, Italy)