New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta was first sailed on the Hudson
River on July 16 and 18, 1846. A similar competition the previous
year was called a Trial of Speed. With a few exceptions for world
wars and other global crises, the event has been held every year
since. For the majority of its existence, the Annual Regatta was
raced on waters close to New York City.
Since 1988, however, the event has been sailed out of the Harbour
Court clubhouse in Newport, R.I., and has settled into the current
three-day format, which includes a race around Conanicut Island on
Friday, two days of buoy or navigator-course racing on Saturday and
Sunday and nightly social activities on the grounds of the historic
Harbour Court mansion. The 168th Annual Regatta is sponsored by
Hammetts Hotel, Safe Harbor Marinas and Helly Hansen.
This year's event features dozens of boats of all ages and types
spread among Classic, One Design, PHRF and ORC divisions.
At the opposite end of the Classic and older design classes were the
three Maxi72s that swept the podium in the six-boat ORC A division,
the Annual Regatta’s fastest fleet. First place ultimately came down
to a two-boat battle between Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente and Jim Swartz’
Vesper in today’s final race. While both teams are looking at a full
season of events both in Newport and in Europe, it’s hard to put the
reins on the competitive fire when two teams of 20 professional
sailors, most with America’s Cup experience, meet with a regatta on
“We’ve got to look after the boats,” said Sanderson, who serves as
the sailing master for Bella Mente. “But it was all on in the
pre-start. We were polite enough to each other, but we pushed hard,
so it was really fun.”
The Bella Menta team earned the advantage off the starting line. The
presence of a third Maxi72, Proteus, did occasionally complicate the
race. But Sanderson and his team, including tactican Terry
Hutchinson, were able to hold the advantage over Vesper all the way
to the finish line, winning the pivotal race by about 90 seconds on
corrected time. After a disappointing spring performance at Les
Voiles de St. Barths—when Vesper won five of six races—this regatta
was a strong step in the right direction.
“We’re just trying to ramp up towards the Maxi Worlds at the end of
the summer, so we’ve just got to make sure that we learn each time
and really be really honest about what’s going well and what’s going
badly,” said Sanderson. “It’s been really nice here because we know
what it takes to do well and we were able to do it. But don’t get me
wrong, we’re a long way from being where we want to be with the boat
and with our performance.”
All three Maxi72s will continue the long path to the worlds at Race
Week at Newport presented by Rolex in July.
Other winners in the weekend's course racing among the five ORC
classes were Vesper (TP52), Rima98 (Italia 11.98), Cool Breeze
(Mills 43), and Escape Velocity (Summit 40).
Winners in Friday's Round the Island Race were Bella Mente (Maxi72),
Interlodge IV (Botin 44), After Midnight (Custom 41), Teamwork
(J122), and Rima98 (Italia 11.98).