Where – The racing is scheduled to take place on Narragansett Bay, north of Gould Island, or on Rhode Island Sound, south of Brenton Point Park. The racing location will be picked each morning. The regatta is hosted out of the New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court.
When – Tuesday, September 15, through Saturday, September 19. The first start is scheduled for 1100 each day.
Who – Amateur teams representing 17 of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the world. The teams represent 11 countries from five continents. U.S. teams competing include Newport Harbor Yacht Club from Newport Beach, Calif., Seattle Yacht Club, Eastern Yacht Club from Marblehead, Mass., and the host New York Yacht Club.
Why – The Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is one of the most prestigious Corinthian competitions in the sport of sailing.
• Royal Canadian Yacht Club, led by 1984 Olympic silver medalists and 2015 Pan Am Games silver medalist Terry McLaughlin, is the two-time defending champion. The RCYC also finished second in the inaugural competition in 2009. Sailing onboard John Hele’s Daring, this will be a team to watch early in the regatta. The Canadians struggled out of the gate in 2013, but a furious comeback lifted them to the title in the final race.
• Royal Thames Yacht Club has put in a full summer of training for this event, winning the Sail Newport Regatta and finishing third in the Swan 42 National Championship. Led by Johnny Greenland, who will competing in the event for the fourth time, the RTYC is poised to become the first team from outside North America to win the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup.
• True one-design racing. The Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup goes a step beyond traditional one-design, big-boat events, where competitors are free to select their own sails, equipment, and rig tune, among other things. For the Invitational Cup, identical sails and equipment are provided to each team and the rig tune is standardized across the fleet. Yacht Clubs that do not have access to a Swan 42 are able to charter boats through the organizing authority. This creates a level playing field that is rarely seen in boats this size, and the competition is incredibly close. It requires a tremendous effort on the part of the New York Yacht Club membership and staff, but the payoff is in the unequivocally positive comments from the competitors. For amateur sailors, this event is the highlight of the year, if not their careers.
• As the host club, the New York Yacht Club has an automatic berth into the regatta. But qualifying for that berth is never easy. In 2015, four NYYC teams competed across two regattas for the right to represent the Club. It came down to the final race, with Dr. Paul Zabetakis and his team on Impetuous earning the Invitational Cup spot by a mere two points. Dr. Zabetakis, who is one of the founding members of the Swan 42 class, served at the event chairman for the 2013 Invitational Cup, pouring untold hours into the success of the event.
• The other three American yacht clubs competing in the 2015 Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup qualified for the event by finishing in the top three at the 2014 U.S. Qualifying Series regatta, also sailed out of the New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court. Each team is competing in the Invitational Cup for a second time, and each club has employed a syndicate approach in forming their team, combing the club membership roll for the best sailors for each position on the boat.
• Distance has never been a barrier for the two Asian teams competing in the 2015 Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup. The Japan Sailing Federation and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club have sailed in each of the previous three events and both are back for a fourth go. The Japan team finished third in the inaugural event and sixth in the next two. The RHKYC results have been less noteworthy, but no team embraces this event with more gusto than the sailors from Hong Kong.
• Only one team in the field, Middle Harbour Yacht Club from Australia, is a rookie. But other teams will take the MHYC crew lightly at their peril. Skipper Guido Belgiorno-Nettis is a former world champion in the Farr 40 class and the crew list is full of sailing pedigree, including top women’s match racer Katie Spithill (sister of America’s Cup-winning skipper James Spithill).