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Wrap U.S. Qualifying Series

Eastern Yacht Club, right, skippered by Bill Lynn, won the U.S. Qualifying Series of the NYYC Invitational Cup.Annapolis, left,led by Peter McChesney, was second, and Newport Harbor Yacht Club, led by Payson Infelise,was third. These three yacht clubs garnered bids to the NYYC Invitational Cup in 2011. Photo Amory Ross/New York Yacht Club

USQS logo10After four days of intense competition (September 8-11), the prevailing sentiment at the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup U.S. Qualifying Series, sponsored by Sperry Top-Sider and Jaguar North America, was that it had been a tough competition.During the first two days of racing on Narragansett Bay, in which 24 of the nation’s foremost yacht clubs were split equally into fleets designated Red or Blue, the competitors sailed half of each day’s races in either NYYC’s Sonars or Sail Newport’s J/22s.After 14 races were completed the top six teams from each fleet were combined into the “Gold” fleet to sail the final two days of the regatta in Sonars.The bounty for a top-three finish in the Gold fleet was a spot in the NYYC Invitational Cup presented by Rolex.That biennial event will see its second running in September 2011.

The 2007 Sonar World Champion, Bill Lynn (Marblehead, Mass.), skippered Eastern Yacht Club’s team to the overall win of the Gold fleet with his son, Peter Lynn, and Rick Myers (both Marblehead) and Alden Reid (Bedford, Mass) crewing.“There’s so many good sailors here it’s ridiculous,” said Lynn on the penultimate day of racing.“If you miss one shift you lose five boats, and you look around and all of a sudden you’re in 11th and there are 12 boats.It’s really close racing.”When asked if he had an advantage because of his experience in the Sonar class, Lynn explained:“Because you can’t tune them, I think it removes any advantage I might have.I think it’s pretty obvious there are a lot of people who haven’t sailed Sonars as much as I have, and they’re doing fine.”

Lynn also noted that “Winning is not the objective. Not losing is the objective.”But win he did after six races on the final day in which Eastern Yacht Club placed no worse than fourth to end the series with 40 points.

“It was a nice day of sailing, pretty shifty,” said Lynn shortly before the awards presentation at Harbour Court, the NYYC Clubhouse.“We were tied for first going into the day, and we didn’t blow it more than anything else.We stayed consistent, stayed in the top-five.Our goal for the week was to just qualify the club.”

Annapolis Yacht Club was second overall in the Gold fleet standings with 50 points.Skipper Peter McChesney, with Shane Zwingleberg and Scott Snyder (all Annapolis) as crew, was a fan of the conditions that had stymied some teams.“The current was good for us when it was strong at the starting line because we had good starts.On the Chesapeake we’re used to current and some of the lake people [competing here] are not.We were up on the line, and other people were getting pushed back.It was helpful for us.”

McChesney expected that it would not be an easy feat to be one of the U.S. teams that qualify because there were so many great sailors participating.“Our mantra was ‘first is third and third is first’ for this regatta.We’re very pumped to be where we are.The competition is fantastic. Racing is extremely tight, and the whole philosophy of the regatta is fantastic.It’s an honor to come to this regatta," he concluded.

Taking third place in the Gold fleet standings with 67 points was the team from Newport Harbor Yacht Club skippered by Payson Infelise (Newport Beach, Calif.).“It’s tough out there,” Infelise said at the end of the final day of the event.With Chris Raab (Long Beach, Calif.) and Reid Vitarelli (Newport Beach) crewing, Newport Harbor won the first race of the day and struggled a bit before closing the series with another win.“I had a little trouble getting off the starting line today which was uncharacteristic of me, but we pulled through with some good tactics and boat handling and were able to pull off top-three and that’s what we’re here for.We were thrown out of race 10, which we had won, after we crossed a buoy line next to the Naval War College.Unfortunately we weren’t really paying attention at the time.We were all racing to get to the right hand side ‘cause that was definitely favored to get out of the current and that’s the way it turned out.”

Although Infelise had sailed Sonars at NYYC during a championship in 2007, he was surprised by the current.“The last time I sailed here it wasn’t as big a factor.But it’s definitely tough racing out there, definitely a tough competition.Most of my sailing has been as the middle/tactician, so driving is kind of new to me; I think we surprised some people.”

Finishing just one point out of the top-three was Larchmont Yacht Club with 68 points.The remaining standings for the Gold fleet are:American (74 points), Pequot (77), Bayview (81), Indian Harbor (84), San Francisco (88), Fishing Bay (104), Fort Worth (105) and Carolina (120).

There was also an incentive for the teams in the Silver fleet who were sailing the consolation round in J/22s:an automatic invitation to the 2012 Invitational Cup U.S. Qualifying Series for a top-three finish in this group of 12.That bonus went to St. Francis, Seawanhaka and Ida Lewis Yacht Clubs who finished, respectively, with 31, 55 and 62 points.Losing the tie-breaker for third place, and the automatic invite, was Southern Yacht Club.Rochester Yacht Club (64 points), Long Beach (66), San Diego (70), St. Petersburg (88), Seattle (95), Boston (104), Little Traverse (105) and Stamford (135) round out the overall standings in the Silver fleet.

The event consumed plenty of internet bandwidth over the four-day run.Newport Harbor Yacht Club kept fans at home up-to-date via Twitter (NHYCsail), while Fishing Bay Yacht Club posted regular updates to their Facebook page. Kattack followed the racing in real time, and Brad Dellenbaugh, NYYC’s sailing director, posted regular updates to the event blog from the race course.

The four-day regatta is sponsored by Sperry Top-Sider and Jaguar North America, with the support of Sailing World, Shumway Marine, J/Boats and Team One Newport.

About Sperry Top-Sider
Since 1935, Sperry Top-Sider has been the leading brand of footwear for those with a Passion for the Sea. From its introduction of the world’s first siped rubber outsole for non-marking traction, to advanced technical fabrication to combat the elements, Sperry Top-Sider remains the vanguard of high-performance amphibious footwear. Available through independent, marine, outdoor and department stores, Sperry Top-Sider is the official footwear of the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regattas, the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, the US Sailing Association, the Salt Water Sportsman seminar series and the National Safe Boating Council.

Based in historic Lexington, Massachusetts, Sperry Top-Sider is a division of Collective Brands Performance and Lifestyle Group, a subsidiary of Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE:PSS). For more information, please visit www.sperrytopsider.com.

About Jaguar
From its beginning as a manufacturer of motorcycle sidecars in 1922, Jaguar Cars has grown to become one of the world’s premier manufacturers of luxury sedans and sports cars and with that, one of the most recognized commercial brands. The company's vision is simple: To produce beautiful fast cars that are desired the world over. The company operates two manufacturing plants in the United Kingdom and is fully engaged in environmental programs, community work and brand awareness exercises such as motorsports.

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