By New York Yacht Club

A decade ago, someone surveying the big-boat racing scene in the Northeast United States might’ve predicted that the future lay predominantly in one-design classes. But like many things in life, the balance between one-design and rating-rule competition is cyclical. The 167th edition of North America’s oldest sailing competition, the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta, has pulled in an historic fleet of 90-plus boats racing under ORC and PHRF. 

The surge in ORC entries, which hit 50 last week, has been a pleasant surprise given that the rule, while popular abroad, has yet to gain a strong foothold in the United States. This is the first year the New York Yacht Club will utilize ORC for all of its top-level rating-rule competition.

“It’s never easy to transition from one rating formula to another, so we are really excited to see the enthusiasm for the ORC rule,” says Peter Cummiskey, the event chair for the Annual Regatta. “While the New York Yacht Club remains bullish on one-design competition, as demonstrated by the fleet of 20 Melges IC37s the Club built three years ago, the Annual Regatta has always been a showcase for top competition under the most advanced rating rules. We feel ORC’s triple-number rating and transparency makes it the best rule available right now. The numbers indicate that sailors agree.”

The 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 New York Yacht Club held its Annual Regatta 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 and two days of buoy racing or navigator-course racing on Saturday and Sunday. The 167th Annual Regatta is sponsored by Hammetts Hotel and Helly Hansen.

In addition to the more than 50 boats registered to sail under ORC, nearly 40 boats are expected to crowd the line for the PHRF fleet starts. While the ORC fleets will race around the buoys on Saturday and Sunday, the PHRF boats—sailing in spinnaker and non-spinnaker classes—will sail navigator courses. Both groups will compete in the Friday’s Around the Island Race, which will be scored separately.

“Not everyone thrives on the precision of ORC or the intensity of buoy racing,” says Cummiskey. “The PHRF fleet at Annual Regatta has been really consistent over the past decade, though this year is showing a slight increase. It’s a great group of boats. Winning isn’t necessarily any easier than in ORC or the one-design fleets, but the vibe is really conducive to family programs and sailors who prefer longer courses.”

New York Yacht Club Regatta Association Welcomes Hammetts Hotel as Partner for 2021 Regatta Season

Winning a regatta takes a cohesive team, all working toward the same goal. The same is true of running a good regatta, and the New York Yacht Club Regatta Association is very pleased to announce that Hammetts Hotel will be returning as a season-long partner for the 2021 regatta season. This new property on Newport Harbor has strong connection to the water and is eager to help competitive sailing get back on track in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Regattas are asset-heavy events, and sponsors are crucial if we are to run our regattas at the standard that everyone expects of the New York Yacht Club Regatta Association,” says Regatta Association president Jim Wilson. “But it’s even better when are able to partner with companies with a deep appreciation for the sport. Hammetts Hotel has a strong commitment to Newport and sailing on Narragansett Bay, and we’re excited to have it join our exclusive group of regatta partners.”

Hammmets Hotel opened just over a year ago and first partnered with the Regatta Association during the shortened 2020 regatta season. The spirit of the 84-room Hammetts Hotel is a nod to Newport’s historic mercantile wharves in a modern context. The expansive lobby lounge is sun-drenched with floor to ceiling windows and stunning views of the harbor and adjacent Newport Marina. Guest rooms draw from Newport’s seafaring heritage with a fresh color palette of grays, crisp whites, unfinished woods, and pops of reds and navy.

“We are thrilled to partner with the New York Yacht Club this year and support these important races,” says Colin Kane, Founding Partner at Peregrine Group, the owners of Hammetts Wharf. “These events embody the spirit of Newport.”

Racing in the 167th edition of the Annual Regatta will start with the traditional lap of Conanicut Island on Friday, June 11. That race is scored separately from the weekend series, which features buoy or point-to-point racing for boats racing in one-design classes and under ORC, PHRF and classic-yacht rating formulas.

Photos: Paul Todd/Outside Images

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