A bad start in light air in a 37-boat fleet can be fatal. If you let it be. Skipper John Baxter and his team on the J/70 Team Vineyard Vines (above) were determined not to let a mistake at the outset of the first race define their regatta. So instead, they got to work, found the advantageous puffs and shifts, and battled through a fleet of top amateur and professional sailors to an 11th in the only race on the first day of the second annual New York Yacht Club One-Design Regatta, which was sailed Saturday and Sunday out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was enough to keep them in the hunt.

Today, in virtually identical conditions, Baxter and his team (at right), which includes his wife Molly, Jake LaDow and Ben Lamb, were nearly unbeatable, winning two races and placing third in the final race to secure a seven-point win in the regatta’s biggest class.

“Yesterday we didn’t start very well; we were real deep and then we ground back to an OK finish,” said John Baxter, from Riverside, N.Y. in a press release on Sunday. “Today we started better and were able to use our speed to get out of some sticky situations. [The goal] was really to minimize the bad starts, because a lot of the teams go the same speed. You’ve got to have a front-row start and just go fast.”

With 59 boats spread across three competitive one-design classes, the One-Design Regatta has earned a place on the summer calendar in just its second year. The wind played possum for much of the weekend, but the New York Yacht Club Race Committee earned strong reviews for getting in four races for each of the classes.

Like many of the J/70 teams that sailed this week in preparation for the class’s world championship in Marblehead, Mass., in September, Etchells skipper Scott Kaufman and his crew were also sailing with their eyes on a world championship. Only that regatta will take place halfway around the world in Brisbane, Australia, in October.

“We did well; we were really happy with the performance,” said Kaufman (second from the left) in the release, after winning the regatta with a solid 3-3-1-4 scoreline. “The breeze was shifty and light, but we seemed to do well in those conditions. We were OCS a couple of times, but managed to come back in a really respectable position.”

Kaufman said the key to coming back after a tough start was to find any bit of additional pressure he could.

“With an Etchells, in light air, a knot more breeze is a knot more speed – three knots of wind, three knots of boat speed, four knots of wind, four knots of boatspeed,” Kaufman said in a news release. “Especially downwind, you have to find the breeze. It was challenging out there, but it’s why we come. It’s a great place to sail. And we love the race committee, they’re very good.”

Finding clean air, and a little bit velocity more than your competitors, was also the path to success for Peter Bergandahl (below, blue shirt), who won the 11-boat Melges 24 class with his team on Wardance.

“When it’s light like that, it seems that sailing in clear air is always the best thing; sailing toward pressure,” he said. “That was what we really tried to focus on. You had to get a good lane and good pressure and that seemed to help a lot. Getting off the line clean was a big deal.

“The boat was going well. We have a good crew.”

While the Melges 24 was integral in the sportboat revolution when it debuted a quarter century ago, it gets overshadowed by newer classes. But Bergandahl rallied 10 other teams to come to Newport and anticipates a stronger showing next year.

“The class is growing again in the United States,” he said. “We’re trying to get more regional events going. Hopefully we can get more boats next year. We had a number of people here that this was sort of a first-time event, so that’s really good.”

2018 NYYC One-Design Regatta Final Results
here for complete weekend results

Place, Yacht Name, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points

J 70 (One Design – 37 Boats)
1. Team Vineyard Vines, John & Molly Baxter , USA – 11 -1 -1 -3 ; 16
2. USA 2, Timothy Healy , USA – 1 -9 -3 -10 ; 23
3. Surge, Ryan McKillen , USA – 5 -6 -11 -1 ; 23
4. Rimette, John Brim , USA – 3 -2 -4 -20 ; 29
5. The SLED, Eiichiro Hamazaki , JPN – 2 -5 -5 -18 ; 30Melges 24 (One Design – 11 Boats)
1. Wardance, Peter Bergendahl , USA – 1 -1 -1 -2 ; 5
2. Dark Energy, Laura Grondin , USA – 3 -2 -3 -1 ; 9
3. Ripcord, Paul Bergendahl , USA – 4 -3 -2 -4 ; 13
4. Shaka, KC Shannon , USA – 2 -4 -6 -7 ; 19
5. Slingshot, Wes Whitmyer Jr , USA – 5 -7 -4 -6 ; 22

Etchells (One Design – 11 Boats)
1. America Jane 11, Scott Kaufman , USA – 3 -3 -1 -4 ; 11
2. Terrapin, Stephen Benjamin , USA – 7 -1 -2 -3 ; 13
3. American Baby, George Francisco , USA – 4 -6 -5 -2 ; 17
4. US Youth Team, Connor Needham , USA – 5 -4 -3 -6 ; 18
5. Blackadder II, Andrew Cumming , CAN – 2 -9 -4 -5 ; 20

Photo Credits: © Paul Todd/OutsideImages.co.nz