NYYC Invitational Cup: San Diego thrives while Southern survives

Rhode Island: Wherever sailors competing in the 2021 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup turned today, there was something standing between them and the groove so essential for a solid finish in a competitive fleet: a wave, a shift, a patch of no wind, a trench of disturbed air, a picket fence of competitors on starboard tack.

It was one of the most challenging days on the water in the history of this storied event.

But intense pressure creates diamonds and with its back to the proverbial wall, San Diego Yacht Club turned in a gem of a performance, winning both races and saving its hopes of a podium finish after a middling start, by its lofty standards, to the regatta. The runner up from 2019 now sits fourth.

“We had couple of tough ones the last couple of days, and we knew we needed to go out and bounce back and find it,” said San Diego Yacht Club tactician Jake LaDow. “We were able to execute two pin-end starts, which really set us up to have very simple races, minimising tacks and staying away from other boats.

San Diego Yacht Club sailing downwind. Mast person is pulling up spinnaker from the mast.
San Diego Yacht Club are coming fourth overall. Pic – ROLEX/Daniel Forster

Southern Yacht Club also sparkled today, transforming a near disaster in race eight into a fourth and extending its overall lead to 13 points. With four races remaining, this regatta is Southern’s to lose. They have shown exceptional speed and, save for one decision today, superb tactics.

The race for the podium remains wide open, with at least five teams in contention. And, while teams in the bottom half of the fleet can no longer dream of a top-three finish, there remains plenty of pride on the line in the minor placings. For example, just 8 points separates 15th from 11th.

“Definitely” said LaDow when asked if the SDYC team reclaimed a bit of its mojo today. “We had a really good synergy between Tyler [Sinks, skipper] and Drew [Freides, main trimmer] keeping the boat at a constant level of heel in the super challenging, puffy conditions, and that gave us a lot of confidence.”

Southern’s comeback was noteworthy in large part due to the impact a bad result would’ve had on the regatta. Had SYC finished where it rounded the first mark—in the teens—the race for the 2021 Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup would be wide open. But that race rescue wasn’t the only Lazarus impression of the day. Royal Canadian Yacht Club was dead last, and by a margin, shortly after the start of race seven, the day’s first contest.

Just after race start.
Royal Canadian Yacht Club were required to do a penalty turn after the race start. Pic – ROLEX/Daniel Forster

“We had a pretty shocker start, and ended up doing a 720 after the start,” he said. “It’s really hard to come back. The good thing is when you’re that far back it’s pretty easy to sail a clear lane, and you can focus on boat speed and sailing the numbers, which is what we did.

“We were able to sail our own race the entire race, including the down winds. We made big, big gains on the downwind legs by sailing by ourselves, and I think we had a pretty good mode going as well.”

After an hour of tough sailing the team crossed the finish line in fifth.

“It was a bit shocking even for us,” Fraser said. “Terry [McLaughlin, RCYC skipper] did a great job, the whole team did a really good job just sticking with it, sailing fast, keeping to our mode, sailing to the numbers. When you’re doing that, good things happen, and we were lucky enough to get back to fifth.”

The Royal Canadian Yacht Club has been a regular attendee at the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, missing just one of seven. The team have won the event two times, and came second just once. Fraser is part of the Club’s second generation of Invitational Cup sailors, participating for the second time.

“The boats are amazing,” he said. “It’s frustratingly close racing. Every inch matters, every tack matters, every shift matters. If you end up on the wrong side of a few things, you get deep and it’s really hard to get back. We’ve had an OK regatta so far, we need to keep pushing, basically no more mistakes at this point.”

Five boats on a kite run.
Two more days of racing remain. Pic – ROLEX/Daniel Forster

Royal Canadian Yacht Club currently sits seventh, 13 points out of the top five. But the team is trending in the right direction, with results in the top five for the last four races.

For San Diego Yacht Club, it’s a similar situation, there’s no margin for error if they have any hope of equalling its finish in 2019. However, this is no time to throw out a carefully crafted playbook that has proven effective in the past.

“Noting changes,” said LaDow. “We still have to trust the process, trust in ourselves and trust each person in their role to do the best we can. That said we’re going to be looking for a similar day to today.”

Day 3 provisional results

1. Southern Yacht Club, Boat 3, USA, 1, 10, 2, 4, 1, 3, 3, 4; 28
2. Royal Thames Yacht Club, Boat 10, GBR, 2, 2, 1, 8, 8, 9, 9, 2; 41
3. Royal Cork Yacht Club, Boat 13, IRL, 3, 3, 11, 1, 6, 6, 4, 9; 43
4. San Diego Yacht Club. Boat 17, USA, 12, 4, 5, 6, 12, 5, 1, 1; 46
5. New York Yacht Club, Boat 19, USA, 4, 1, 7, 3, 5, 12, 7, 11; 50
6. Eastern Yacht Club, Boat 16, USA, 12*, 6, 4, 5, 3, 2, 8, 16; 56
7. Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Boat 5, CAN, 13, 9, 16, 9, 2, 4, 5, 5; 63
8. Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Boat 14, ITA, 7*, 12, 3, 16, 7, 8, 6, 14; 73
9. The San Francisco Yacht Club, Boat 2, USA, 17, 7, 9, 2, 11, 1, 14, 15; 76
10. American Yacht Club, Boat 8, USA, 9*, 11, 8, 13*, 13, 16, 2, 6; 78
11. Yacht Club Argentino, Boat 9, ARG, 14, 13, 17, 11, 15, 7, 10, 3; 90
12. Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Boat 15, CAN, 7, 5, 6, 7, 19, 17, 19, 12; 92
13. Nylandska Jaktklubben, Boat 12, FIN, 6*, 18, 13, 15, 10, 15, 12, 7; 96
14. Royal Swedish Yacht Club, Boat 6, SWE, 10, 8, 18, 14, 9, 13, 16, 10; 98
15. Noroton Yacht Club, Boat 7, USA, 15, 14, 10, 10, 14, 10, 17, 8; 98
16. Yacht Club Italiano, Boat 18, ITA, 10*, 17, 12, 17, 16, 14, 11, 13; 110
17. Itchenor Sailing Club, Boat 11, GBR, 19, 15, 15, 18, 4, 18, 13, 17; 119
18. Howth Yacht Club, Boat 4, IRL, 16, 16, 14, 13, 17, 11, 15, 19; 121
19. Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Boat 20, BER, 18, 19, 19, 19, 18, 19, 18, 18; 148
*Race score includes 1-point penalty for early extension of sprit

For the full results, see: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WKOdR2sLePkWRWlGrUcOC3k-GKd7XjJS6vvO6b8e7tU/edit#gid=228235983

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