History of One Design Racing at NYYC

history10 sBy Dan Nerney

The legendary yacht designer Captain Nathanael Herreshoff, an honorary member of the NYYC -- see photo above -- designed a fleet of boats back in 1896 called the Newport 30 class. This fleet would prove the genesis of a series of one-design classes organized within the NYYC.

Members who had seen or sailed in these Newport 30s went to "Cap'n Nat," and in 1900 came the first of these classes: the NYYC 70, to be followed in succession by the famous NY 30's in 1905 (18 built), the NY 57s in 1907, the 50s in 1913 and the popular 40s in 1916 (24 built).City Island, and they were a very popular class in their day.

In 1977, a group within the club wished to get back to one-design racing. A Doug Peterson design was adopted for the new class to be known as the NY 40. Palmer Johnson built 21 of these boats from hulls molded at New Orleans Marine, and in 1978, the fledgling class got its own start on the Annual Cruise.

George Carmany, owner of the NY 40 HORNET, says, "While the NY 40 today is considered a heavy boat, it puts a premium on racing tactics, and it rates well under IMS as evidenced by the success of the class in the Astor Cup. A boat from the class has won the Astor Cup four of the last six years in addition to two Herreshoff Medals." Although it is rare today to find more than five or six boats coming to the start line, the class races very closely, as evidenced by a recent NYYC Cruise when all five boats finished within 18 seconds in the 31-mile squadron run from Newport to Hadley's Harbor. In the 1984 Newport to Bermuda Race, four members of this class finished within 40 minutes. In 1935, Olin Stephens designed the NY 32. Twenty were built at the Nevins Yard on City Island, and they were a very popular class in their day. In 1978 Sparkman & Stephens designed a centerboard 48' hull to be called the NY 48, and although five were built, the class, perhaps due to its cost, never experienced the success of the NY 40s.

In 1980, a group wanted a still smaller class of one designs for racing, and Naval Architect Bill Cook drew the lines of the NY-36. Commodore Isdale's FAIR AMERICAN was the first of 60 boats to be built on the West Coast by Schock Marine. It was an equally popular class on the West Coast as about 30 of the boats raced there. The NY-36 raced as a class on the Cruise throughout much of the 80s after which their popularity waned.

In recent years, one-design racing is proving very popular. In 2005, the NYYC joined with Nautor's Swan to produce the NYYC 42, called the Club Swan 42 outside the NYYC. This is the ninth one-design class created by the NYYC since 1900. The initial order was 36 yachts, 25 sold to NYYC members.

Above: Esmeralda -- NYYC 42 Hull #2 -- finished first in IRC-3, in the Acura Key West Race Week, the design's handicap-racing debut.