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Inaugural One-Design Regatta Kick Starts Summer of Big Dreams

M20 Worlds Freides Web

NEWPORT, R.I. — A typical world championship regatta takes the better part of a week to complete. But for those aiming at the top step on the podium, the full journey can take months, if not years. After finishing second in the 2016 Melges 20 World Championship in Scarlino, Italy, last August, Drew Freides (above, left) started planning for this year’s championship, which will be held out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I., October 3 to 7.

“We have one goal this year, to improve by one position [at the world championship],” says Freides, of Pacific Palisades, Calif. “It’s a great fleet with great competition, but we will give it our best.”

A key component in that all-out effort is a heavy schedule of training and racing in Newport, R.I. It’s a place that Freides knows well—he’s been a member of the New York Yacht Club for nearly two decades—but he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“We don't think there is any substitute for training at the venue where the regatta will be held,” says Freides. “Getting comfortable with the conditions, the logistics and the overall surroundings is crucial to succeeding at the actual event.”

The first Newport event for Freides and his teammates, including 1992 Olympic silver medalist Morgan Reeser, is the New York Yacht Club One-Design Regatta, June 2 to 4, also sailed out of the historic Harbour Court clubhouse on Newport Harbor.

Benji Etchells Worlds Nowell WebThis new event will feature racing for three of sailing’s most competitive keelboat classes. In addition to the Melges 20, the venerable Etchells class (right) will be contesting its 2017 National Championship while the J/70 fleet will gather for an early season event that will see many teams shaking off the rust and aiming toward national and world championship events later this summer.

“The Nationals will be the highest profile Etchells event in the East Coast this summer and the first of four events in the Etchells Atlantic Series, with later events in Shelter Island, Newport, again, and Larchmont, N.Y.,” says veteran Etchells skipper Senet Bischoff. “It will also start the ramp-up for the Etchells Worlds in September in San Francisco.”

Among those expected to vie for the class’s U.S. crown is 2015 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and 1984 Olympic silver medalist Steve Benjamin, who is fresh off an overall win in the class’s very competitive winter circuit on Biscayne Bay, Florida.

In 2014, the J/70 class held its first world championship (left) out of Harbour Court, with 86 boats. The fleet won’t be quite as large when the class returns in a few weeks, but former America’s Cup sailor Hannah Swett expects a competitive group.

“It will be a great warm-up event for summer J/70 racing in Newport,” says Swett, who spent her youth sailing on Narragansett Bay and was an All-American sailor at Brown University in Providence. “We are expecting 15 or more highly competitive boats. It is great to be sailing an one-design regatta at Harbour Court.”

J70 Web FleetAnd that is perhaps the common thread that links everyone participating in the New York Yacht Club One-Design Regatta. The Club’s Annual Regatta presented by Rolex, which has been sailed regularly since 1845, holds to a minimum length limit of 24 feet, preventing the J/70 and Melges 20 fleets from participating. This new event affords one-design aficionados a chance to enjoy the Club’s superb race management and unparalleled shoreside hospitality.

For more information on the New York Yacht Club One-Design Regatta, including full entry lists, please click here.

Photo credits: Barracuda Communications, Guy Nowell, Courtesy J/70 Class