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The Inside Track: Day 1 Goes to Larchmont YC

Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster

By Louay Habib

With 14 knots of wind from the southwest, building to over 20 knots by the afternoon, the race committee for the 2013 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex rightly chose to race the 20-strong Swan 42 fleet inside Narragansett Bay. With a stable wind direction from the south, land effects from both sides of the race course came into play.

After two races, Larchmont (N.Y.) YC sits atop the leader board, having scored two seconds. The Japanese Sailing Federation are just a point behind in second with Australia’s Royal Prince Alfred YC in third.

Race One was sailed in a steady breeze of about 12 knots, with the left side of the course looking to be the correct option, as the breakwater off the Naval base gave some relief from the foul tide. The breeze rose exponentially during Race Two and boat handling came into play. The second race was shortened to avoid a second heavy-air downwind leg but nonetheless several yachts had their hopes dashed by torn spinnakers or boathandling mistakes at the leeward mark.

The biggest comeback of the day was performed by the Royal Prince Alfred YC. The Australian team won the first race, but were called over the starting line in the second race. Having returned to start correctly, the Royal Prince Alfred YC was in second to last place, but came back, with some tenacity, to finish fifth.

The first day of the 2013 Invitational Cup belonged to Larchmont YC. The team from Westchester County, N.Y., is making their Invitational Cup debut. “We went hard left on the first start, really to stay out of the traffic,” said skipper Danny Pletsch. “Also, we felt the left would be a one-tack beat and it ended up working out. We were first to the top mark but the spinnaker popped out early and we ended up shrimping the chute. This cost us 100 yards, so we jibed away from the traffic and to be honest we got a little lucky as we got into more wind.”

“In the second race we were over early, and we had to do a few clearing tacks to get back in the game. But one of our key strategies in the lead up to this regatta was training. We practised for five days beforehand and that has really paid off today. We put in some good boat handling and apart from shrimping the spinnaker, we didn't have any big issues today. I would also like to give some credit to Cardwell Potts on tactics. We have sailed together for a long time and that connection works well. We kept positive when things went wrong and we had our share of luck, but we will see how it goes tomorrow.”

The Royal Yacht Squadron, this year skippered by Welshman Glynn Williams, is competing at the Invitational Cup for the third consecutive time. “Driving upwind in the second race was very tough,” said Williams. “We had to work really hard, as these boats don't like to heel. All of the crew were fully hiked all the way on the beat; they all had their heads down--in a positive sense.”

The Royal Yacht Squadron team is coached by Chris Mason, who has competed at four editions of the America's Cup. He spoke candidly about the team's performance today. “I think we had a very good day, the team went in the right direction and all the maneuvers were efficient. I was especially impressed with the last bottom mark rounding in 20 knots of breeze; it was tough racing. The Swan 42 main sail has no reef and the spinnakers are large, so sensibly the Sailing Instructions say that a race will not start in 22 knots. By the end of the second race, the conditions were right on the edge. At the end of the day, there were a few broken spinnakers but I think the standard of the racing from all the teams was extremely good.”

Racing is scheduled to continue at 1100 local time tomorrow, for full results go to: nyyc.org/yachting/invitational-cup/2013-invitationalcup-results

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