two days of windward/leeward racing, race managers at New York YC
have held six races in a variety of conditions for their Race Week
at Newport event, and the competition in both ORC classes is
starting to become clear: in ORC Class 1 Victor Wildís Fox is making
a serious challenge to David Teamís Vesper in a battle among
different generations of Botin 52ís. And in ORC Class 2 Bill
Suttonís J/109 Leading Edge has a serious rival in Paul Zabetakis
with this modified Swan 42 Impetuous.
For Zabetakis, getting back behind the wheel of Impetuous was like
hopping back on the proverbial bike after a long layoff, Only this
bike came with a key new feature. It took a day for Zabetakis and
his crew to truly get back into the swing of racing, but on Day 2
they were impossible to beat, winning each of three races in ORC 2
to take a 1-point lead over Tom Sutton's Leading Edge in what has
become a two-horse race for the title. Third-placed Das Blau Max is
17 points behind.
"The boat's going real well," says Zabetakis (Jamestown, R.I.). "Now
that we're not doing one-design racing, we did make one change to
the boat. We put on a new rudder, which was a Greg Stewart design.
The 42s had no helm at all. In 5 knots or 20 knots, it was the same
thing. Now I have a little bit of feel upwind and downwind itís
While the calendar says fall, the weather today on Rhode Island
Sound was definitely more reminiscent of high summer, with plentiful
sunshine, temps in the 70s and a building southwesterly sea breeze,
conditions that are as familiar as a pair of old jeans to anyone
who's raced off Newport.
"The first race started out really light," says Zabetakis. "I think
when we started it was 5 to 6 knots. The second race was medium
conditions, 10 to 15. By the end of the second race, it started
getting very breezy, and then the last race we were sitting on 15
knots with a couple of shots to 18. It was starting to get a little
lumpy out there."
For a team looking to assess a major modification, it would be hard
to think of a more perfect day. A full range of conditions and some
good competition against which to gauge performance.
"This is the first time we've been out in the boat since last year,
the first time with the new rudder," he says. "I was feeling good
that boat, both in light- and heavy-air conditions, was doing well.
Every time time we were near Rikki (a Reichel/Pugh 42, the
fastest-rated boat in ORC 2), we would generally lift off of her. We
just picked the right windshifts, and the boat was fast."
Over more than a decade of regularly racing Impetuous, Zabetakis has
acquired one of Newport's most loyal crews. While everyone likes to
see a string of 1's on their scorecard, the opportunity to reunite
with his sailing family was just as enjoyable.
"Except for one person on the boat, everyone is the regular crew,
and itís just a blast," he says. "My attitude coming in was I just
wanted to have a good time and get back with the crew."
Victor Wild's Pac52 Fox (San Diego, Calif.) won the day in ORC 1,
moving within one point of David Team's Vesper (Newport Beach,
Calif.) for the overall lead. Hap Fauth's Bella Mente (Naples, Fla.)
won Race 2, but struggled in Race 1 and sits third, 11 points off
the overall lead.
Both ORC divisions will do a coastal race today, while the Melges
IC37s will continue buoy racing. The 12th edition of Race Week at
Newport presented by Rolex will conclude on Saturday.