The Rolex Swan American Regatta concluded yesterday after a week of spectacular racing, hosted by New York Yacht Club
The Rolex Swan American Regatta concluded yesterday after a week of spectacular racing, hosted by New York Yacht Club, in Newport, Rhode Island. A total of 39 Swan competed in the biennial regatta, which began Monday, 25 July and ended yesterday with two races on Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Overall winners in each of the four class winners were awarded a Rolex Steel Submariner timepiece at the prizegiving ceremony, held at New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court.
Frank Savage and his Swan 56 Lolita finally lived up to their hopes by scoring two victories on the final day’s racing at the Rolex Swan American Regatta in Newport. Savage had been bullish about repeating his success at this regatta four years ago, but he struggled while the Swan 601 Moneypenny, owned by Jim Swartz sailed to a
comfortable victory in the big boat division, Class A. It was a good consolation prize for this ambitious owner. “Today we sailed like the Lolita that everyone at these Swan regattas knows,” said Savage. “I’m very, very pleased, so proud of my crew, and the boat was in excellent shape. The weather was perfect Swan 56 weather – 16-18 knots is a great wind range for us.”
A race day of windward/leeward races, held in 12-15 knots, was the perfect scenario for the Lolita team to redeem themselves. “We had a couple of new guys on board, and the team really came together today,” Savage said. “For the first time we chose an all-asymmetric spinnaker inventory. That was a new move for us and we had to get used to the jibes. We’ve struggled with it, it’s very difficult to jibe the boat, but everything turned out right today.”
Moneypenny couldn’t maintain its awesome collection of first places on the last day, but a 2,4 scoreline was still sufficient to hand Class A overall victory to Swartz by a very comfortable margin. “It was a great week, we had a great start and we’ve had some fantastic sailing,” said Swartz. “Today was a little more humbling. We came second by one second in the first race, and I’m not sure about the second race. It’s been a little more challenging today. The boat has performed fantastically and I’m extremely happy with it,
beyond my expectations. The crew has been fantastic – they just executed faultlessly all week. It was a great sight to see.”
There was a very close three-way battle for second place in Class A, with Filip Balcaen and his Swan 56 Aqua Equinox doing just enough to edge out Lolita. Lolita finished on equal points with Clay Deutsch and his Swan 68 Chippewa, but the two race wins from yesterday gave third-place overall to Lolita, based on overall scores.
Victory in Class B remained in the balance until the final race this afternoon, with Swan 44s Vixen and Crescendo duelling to the very end. John Wayt had the momentum to string together four consecutive victories for his Vixen. After winning the first race of the day over Crescendo by 30 seconds, Vixen topped the leader board by a single point. In the afternoon, Crescendo sailed to an easy victory, almost two minutes ahead of another Swan 44, Xenophon owned by Jeffrrey Rabuffo, with Swan 46 Cygne another 30 seconds further back.
“Today was a day of very competitive sailing,” said Martin Jacobson, co-owner of Crescendo. “It was a kind of a serious day, but a fun day. We had a little struggle on the first leg of the first race, but from then on we were able to sail pretty much to our racing plan. In the first race we finished second to Vixen, so we knew we had to really do well in the final race. We were able to sail to our plan, which is important, and we didn’t make any mistakes.”
In Class C, the nine-boat Swan 45 one-design division, William Douglass and his Goombay Smash went into the day with a very comfortable buffer over Massimo Ferragamo’s Bellicosa. However, Ferragamo won the first race, Douglass finished fifth, and suddenly Goombay didn’t look so comfortable. “Today we had a bit of trouble going upwind,” said Douglass. “I think we had the wrong jib up on the first race and
Bellicosa sailed a fantastic race. They were really trying to put the pressure on us. All of a sudden we realized that they just cut our lead in half so we still had our work cut out. Even the boats that weren’t finishing in the top of the fleet were all of a sudden winning races, like Vixen and Yasha and it was really, really fun, close racing.”
Yukihiro Ishida looked set to take his first race win this morning with his brand-new Yasha, holding a 30-second lead around the penultimate windward mark. But that lead evaporated when the spinnaker wrapped around the forestay and dropped them back into the pack, finishing third.
Toward the end of the race, Douglass adopted a more aggressive strategy to protect his diminished lead against Ferragamo. “The second race we just decided we were just going to camp on Bellicosa, so we really weren’t worried too much about the rest of the fleet,” he said. “Bellicosa and ourselves did a lot of tacking, and we still ended up finishing fourth. The crew work has been fantastic and Brad Reed did a superb job of calling tactics – we just had a great time.”
The next big regatta for the Swan 45 class is the Gold Cup, to be held during Key West Race Week this January. A fleet of 20 boats is expected there.
Joe Huber dominated the non-spinnaker division, Class D, from start to finish. His Swan 44 Reef Points scored seven first places and discarded a fourth to win by 19 points over second-place Roland Bathory and his Swan 53 Amanda. Huber was delighted with the victory. “This is our first regatta together,” he said. “The boat captain Jeff Gertzen pulled together the team, and he’s the secret to getting the crew together and choosing a good crew. We’re a small boat in the class and it’s hard to keep up with the others. But actually, the secret to our success is that we’re fortunate to get to the weather marks with the big boats and then ride their quarter wake for speed downwind.” Neal Finnegan
finished third overall with his Swan 56 Clover III.
1. Moneypenny, Swan 601, Jim Swartz, Edgartown, Mass., 1-1-1-4*-1-1-2-4, 11
2. Aqua Equinox, Filip Balcaen, BEL, 3-4*-2-3-2-3-4-2, 19
3. Lolita, Frank Savage, Stamford, Conn., 2-3-5-8*-3-5-1-1, 20
1. Crescendo, Swan 44, Leon Christianakis/ Martin Jacobson, Greenwich,
Conn., 1-1-1-3*-2-2-1, 10 points
2. Vixen, Swan 44, John Wayt, Jamestown, R.I., 3-2-2-1-1-1-4*, 11
3. Xenophon, Jeffrey Rabuffo, Middletown, R.I., 4*-3-3-2-4-3-3-2, 20
Class C – Swan 45 One-Design
1. Goombay Smash, William Douglass, Stamford, Conn., 1-1-1-2-1-3-2-7*-2-5-4,
2. Bellicosa, Massimo Ferragamo, New York, N.Y., 2-3-4-3-2-4-5*-2-1-1-5, 27
3. Plenty, Alexander Roepers, New York, N.Y., 5-5-2-1-7-1-8*-3-5-2-2-, 33
1. Reef Points, Swan 44, Joseph Huber, Wynnewood, Pa., 1-1-1-1-4*-1-1-1, 7
2. Amanda, Swan 53, Roland Bathory, Weston, Mass., 4-3-3-2-3-4-7-8*, 26
3. Clover III, Neal Finnegan, Cohassett, Mass., 14*-2-2-3-1.5-7-8-6, 29.5