St. Francis Yacht Club team captain Jon Andron always sets modest goals for the New York Yacht Club Grandmasters Team Race. A good regatta, he says, is one where he and his teammates enjoy the company of fellow sailors from around the country and overseas, finish the event with a desire to return, and make sure to earn an invitation for the following year. The West Coast yacht club hit that trifecta this year, and added a bonus, the overall championship, a first at this event for St. Francis Yacht Club. The St. Francis team also took home the Peter Wilson Trophy, a de facto season championship based the results of five top grandmasters-level team races.
“We love the people,” said Andron, surrounded by a gaggle of happy team racers moments after accepting the trophy on the lawn of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I. “We’re only here for this. Look around us, see the smiling faces and wonderful people; we all have the common interest of collecting a wonderful experience from a regatta.”
The Grandmasters Team Race was first run in 2010 and is one of three elite team race regattas run by the New York Yacht Club each August. Each Grandmasters entry must have three skippers at least 60 or over, and all crew must be at least 50 years of age. The regatta is sailed in the New York Yacht Club’s fleet of one-design Sonar sailboats. Noroton Yacht Club won the first six editions of the regatta, with the host New York Yacht Club team winning in 2017 and 2018.
The win for St. Francis caps off a remarkable August in Newport. With a revolving cast of characters, the venerable San Francisco yacht club won the Morgan Cup in early August, placed sixth at the Hinman Trophy a week later and then won the Grandmasters. As with the Grandmasters win, the Morgan Cup victory was the first for the club in that event.
While team racing is most known for the intricate tactics and choreographed maneuvers used to manufacture the crucial winning combinations over the course of a 15-minute race, as with other sailing disciplines, there’s no substitute for speed.
“We had a good mental understanding that we have good sailors so we always have confidence that we have enough speed,” said Andron. “You relax little more when you know your speed is OK, and then you can focus on other parts of the race. We anticipate well. Because our crew work is so good, our helmsmen can relax a little more than some of the drivers on the other teams.”
After the wind failed to materialize on Day 1 on the regatta, the race committee, led by veteran race officer Chip Johns, whipped the eight competing teams through one complete round robin and worked most of the way through a second during a frenetic day of racing on Saturday. After the remainder of the second round robin was completed Sunday morning in a gusty northerly breeze, the host New York Yacht Club led the pack with 12 wins from 14 races. St. Francis was close behind with 11 wins and another West Coast team, Newport Harbor Yacht Club, stood third with 10 races.
A double-points round robin for the top five teams followed. With a win in the first race of that series, St. Francis leaped past New York into the lead, which it was able to hold through the end of the circuit. Noroton won its final four races and jumped from fourth to second, bumping the hosts to third and Newport Harbor to fourth. Gamla Stans Yacht Club from Sweden was the top team from the Silver Fleet.
St. Francis Yacht Club: Jon Andron (skipper/team captain), Chris Perkins, Jon Perkins, Alison Rowe, Craig Healey (skipper), Tom Ducharme, Peter Vessella, Sean Svendsen, Tracy Usher (skipper), Will Sharron, Gerard Sheridan and Mike Bishop (with NYYC Rear Commodore Paul Zabetakis, second from right).
2019 New York Yacht Club Grandmasters Team Race Regatta
New York Yacht Club Harbour Court
August 16 to 18
Click for complete results: Round Robin 1 & 2 | Gold/Silver RR
1. St. Francis Yacht Club (San Francisco) 11-3 Round Robin 1 & 2, 3-1 Gold Round Robin, 17 points; 2. Noroton Yacht Club (Darien, Conn.) 8-6, 4-0, 16 points; 3. New York (N.Y.) Yacht Club, 12-2, 2-2, 16 points; 4. Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Newport Beach, Calif.) 10-4, 1-3, 12 points; 5. Texas Corinthian Yacht Club (Kemah, Texas) 7-7, 0-4, 7 points; 6. Gamla Stans Yacht Sällskap (Sweden) 4-10, 2-0 Silver Round Robin, 8 points; 7. Southern Yacht Club (New Orleans) 3-11, 1-1, 5 points; 8. Annapolis (Md.) Yacht Club, 1-13, 0-2, 1 point.
Photo credits: Stuart Streuli/New York Yacht Club | Content: New York Yacht club