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by Stuart Streuli, Director of Communications for New York Yacht Club

The most enduring event in North American sailing got off to an inauspicious start on July 16, 1846. Beset by light air, Louis Depau’s 44-ton sloop Mist was the only one of 14 starters to finish the first race of the New York Yacht Club’s inaugural Annual Regatta. A second race, two days later, proved more successful with Commodore John Cox Stevens’ Gimcrack taking line honors and Hornet, owned by A. Barker, winning on corrected time.

Through the better part of two centuries, the Annual Regatta has endured, only occasionally missing time due to national and world crises. It has moved from the Hudson River and New York Harbor to Western Long Island Sound to Newport, where it’s found a comfortable home at the start of the summer sailing season. The 166th edition was scheduled for June 12 to 14, with a distance race around Conanicut Island followed by two days of buoy or navigator racing on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound. Earlier this year, the Club postponed the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but remains determined to keep the tradition alive. The 166th Annual Regatta is now set for August 28 to 30.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by the COVID-19 crisis,” says William P. Ketcham, Commodore of the New York Yacht Club. “The New York Yacht Club believes that an abbreviated sailing calendar can help sailors looking for a return to normal get back on the water and support sailing towns and the sailing industry on the path to financial recovery. The Annual Regatta will not be as it was originally planned; the social events, in particular, will likely look much different, if they happen at all. But the camaraderie and competition between crews and competitors will be as strong as ever.”

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The One-Design Regatta, originally scheduled for August 22 and 23, will be merged with the Annual Regatta, allowing smaller keelboat classes to take part in North America’s oldest annual sailing competition. As the Herreshoff Museum has scheduled its Classic Yacht Regatta for the final weekend in August, the Annual Regatta will not include any divisions for classic yachts.

The specific divisions and crew formats for the Annual Regatta will be dictated by the Rhode Island social distancing regulations in effect at that time as well as New York Yacht Club guidelines.

The Club’s Sailing Office is working to revise race documents and websites. NORs, event schedules and other relevant information will be posted to the respective event webpages as soon as they are finalized. To stay on top of the latest news regarding all New York Yacht Club sailing events, please visit the website, or follow the Club’s Facebook page.

Photos: ROLEX/Daniel Forster

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