Tom Sutton and Stephanie Roble were two of the more than 1,000 sailors who competed at the New York Yacht Club’s 162nd Annual Regatta Presented by Rolex.

The two race under different circumstances – Sutton, an independent registered investment advisor, is a club racer from Houston, Tx., while Roble, the 2014 US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, is a one-design ace who lives in Chicago – but their message from a varied weekend of racing is the same. As Sutton said, “You’ve got to have good people and lady luck on your side.”

Sutton’s J/35 Leading Edge won overall honors in the Around the Island Race last Friday. In doing so, Sutton won his first Rolex Stainless Steel Submariner Date watch, which he will receive at the New York Yacht Club’s annual awards banquet in November.

The race around Conanicut Island featured two restarts, the final one just a half mile from the finish line, which sat in a windless vacuum between a light southeasterly wind and a fading northerly that had propelled the fleet for three-quarters of the race. The lack of wind compressed the fleet so tightly that no fewer than 30 boats finished within two minutes of each other.

Sutton (pictured in cowboy hat) and crew, which includes his wife Diana and 15-year-old son Jakob working the bow, were able to tip-toe through the mess and find lady luck waiting for them at the finish. The crew won overall honors and IRC Class 5.

“It was a dream,” said the 64-year-old Sutton. “I’ve had many nightmares like that before, where I was doing well and then the situation went very bad. There was a lot of give and take in the race, and we were fortunate to be able to take it at the end when it counted most.”

Sutton’s Leading Edge also was a member of the two-boat team, along with Chris Lewis’ J/44 Kenaifrom Houston that won the Rolex Cup for best performance in the Around the Island Race. With Leading Edge placing first overall and Kenai 11th, the “Go Texas” team had the low score of 12 points and was 6 points ahead of the second-placed team.

“This is a people deal,” said Sutton. “A boat is an inanimate object. People bring the boat to life. That’s what’s fantastic about our sport. You can spend a lot of money on your boat, but if you don’t have great crew it doesn’t matter.”

Roble mostly agrees with Sutton, except for when luck is involved. “I think a lot of sailing success comes from a great crew,” said Roble. “I’ve been on good and bad crews. The great ones have respect for each other and are willing to put in the extra hours. That’s reflected on the water. With hard work and dedication you earn your luck along the way.”

Roble was sailing aboard an Etchells class boat skippered by Jay Cross of New York. It was the crew’s first weekend of racing together as they prepare for the Etchells World Championship later this year in England. When Roble won the Yachtswoman of the Year award she was a crew aboard the 2014 Etchells World Champion.

Roble said the crew had a disappointing first day when they placed 5th in both races, but followed it up with a 1st and 2nd on the second day to finish third overall in the class.

On Sunday we came together as a team,” Roble said. “After Saturday we sat down and talked through some communication and boathandling things that weren’t right, and on Sunday it all seemed to flow. We had a bad start in the day’s second race, but put our heads down and worked hard and got into the top of the group at the first mark. It wasn’t luck, but hard work and focus.”

The New York Yacht Club’s 162nd Annual Regatta Presented by Rolex celebrated the 58th year of partnership between Rolex and the New York Yacht Club. Both Sutton and Roble said that when they attend a Rolex-sponsored event they know that there’ll be quality race committee work and pleasant social functions shoreside. With a mixed bag of conditions throughout the weekend—from the windless vacuum on Friday to 30 knots yesterday—the New York Yacht Club rose to the occasion and delivered a first class event.

“We’re very appreciative of everything Rolex does and I think the sailors are as well. People know that if it’s a Rolex event it’s a high-quality event,” said New York Yacht Club Vice Commodore Phil Lotz. “We like to give the racers quality, fair racing on the water and then a good time on shore and Rolex is very supportive of that. It’s symbolic with the type of branding and lifestyle they want to associate with, and it’s the same with us. It’s been a very good relationship from that point of view.”

Highlights of the racing can be viewed at the New York Yacht Club’s Regattas Facebook page and itsInstagram account.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.