Nader Habashi’s Swan 56 Redoubtable (USA) won the 24-mile long distance race, around Conanicut Island, in the Swan American Regatta. A second place for Frank Savage’s Lolita (USA) enabled the Swan 56 to further extend her overall regatta lead. Lolita leads the 32 strong fleet by six points after four races.
Nader outlined his reasons for the victory: “We remained focused and concentrated throughout the day. The light and fluky conditions are typical of the Chesapeake Bay, which is where the majority of the crew are from, which undoubtedly helped. We never give up.”
Vixen, owned by John & Bunny Wayt (USA) won the small boat class.
The two divisions started together, in 12 knots of northeasterly breeze after a brief postponement for a violent squall. Nova, Mark DiStefano’s Swan 56 (USA), and the Swan 60 Betsy, owned by Charles Engh (USA), led the fleet away in the middle of the line, with Lolita and well placed at the committee boat end as the gun went.
Heading North to round the island in an anti-clockwise direction, the Swan fleet headed away from the line, closehauled on starboard tack. As they passed the Newport bridge, a lead pack of four emerged. Lolita had a narrow lead from Nova, followed by fellow Swan 56 Neva and Betsy. Arien Van Vemde’s Swan 60 Sotto Voce (NED) led the chasing pack, closely pursued by Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy’s Swan 56 Noonmark VI (GBR) and Clay Deutsch onboard his Swan 68 Chippewa (USA).
After four miles, the fleet headed towards Gould Island, Sotto Voce accelerated to take 2nd place and then proceeded to catch up to Lolita. On the approach to Conanicut Point, the breeze died, with the fleet changing to light air sails. Lolita was positioned further inshore and found a patch of wind, to re-establish her lead. As the breeze moved again filled in from the north, Sotto Voce was the next to benefit and the two powered away from the rest of the fleet to the right side of the course.
In small boat fleet, John Santa’s Swan 46 Galdriel (USA) benefited from an inshore course, tacking up the shore, to establish an early lead over Sam Fortenbaugh’s division rival Syrocco (USA) as they neared Conanicut Point.
As the fleet passed the northern end of the island, heading to the northern mark positioned four miles beyond the point, a small group of boats tacked out of the ebbing current. The Swan to benefit most from this tactic was Redoubtable, whose course to the west of Hope Island found better breeze and far less current. Noonmark VI followed, with Perserverance, a Swan 56 owned by Tom Puett (USA), Syrocco, Mike Sylvanovich’s Swan 44 Cygnet (USA), and Fierce Pride, a Swan 44 owned by Van Holston (USA), all on starboard tack. Perserverance was the first boat to tack and the others soon followed, approaching the mark.
Redoubtable rounded first with Sotto Voce in second position, a minute behind. Lolita and Nova followed, closely pursued by Noonmark VI, and Chippewa. As the seabreeze started to generate, it nullified the northerly breeze and the fleet struggled to stem the ebbing tide for 90 minutes.
When the new seabreeze filled in, the Swan to benefit most was Redoubtable. They dropped their spinnaker, set the headsail and charged upwind into the building 5-knot breeze arriving at the Jamestown Bridge 15 minutes ahead of Lolita and Sotto Voce. Rounding the southern tip of Conanicut Island at Beavertail Point, Redoubtable set their spinnaker and were off to the finish, some 4 miles away. Redoubtable crossed the finish line 10 minutes ahead of Sotto Voce, followed by Lolita, Nova and Noonmark VI.
Another set of strong storm cells began filling the area when the first of the Small Boat Class, Fierce Pride, managed to finish under a dark and stormy sky. They were closely followed by John Santa’s Swan 46 Galadriel and then Vixen, with the latter winning on corrected time.