The 39 Swans completed a memorable distance race on the third day of the Rolex Swan American Regatta yesterday

An action-packed day, complete with thick, rolling fog and the challenge of a race course set west of Newport in Narragansett Bay, gave the 39 Swans competing a memorable distance race on the third day of the Rolex Swan American Regatta yesterday. Playing the wind shifts in a range of 12-20 knots and finding relief from the current were key to taming the classic New England conditions.

The New York Yacht Club race committee sent Class B and D, on a 19-mile course around the island, but Class A, the larger boats, and the Swan 45s were sent on a longer, 30-nautical-mile course that included an additional leg around Prudence Island. Although the sun occasionally broke through the dense fog at the northern end of the course, there were many occasions when the competitors had no idea where their opposition was, particularly at the start and the finish.

In the tightly packed Swan 45 class racing, rivals are likely to be close by, regardless of the conditions. True enough, downwind to the finish, three Swan 45s found themselves neck and neck in a frenetic battle for the winner’s gun. Olympic gold medallist Kevin Burnham, calling tactics on Yukihiro Ishida’s new Swan 45 Yasha, described the day. “It was Bellicosa, Goombay Smash and ourselves – all overlapped, after 30 miles of racing in the fog,” he said. “We had some killer boat speed today and we thought we had the race win as we closed in on the finish. And then out comes Plenty from the fog, from the other side of the run, and they caught us. But what great racing; it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Alexander Roepers’ Plenty profited from the fog to steal victory from under its rivals’ noses. “We were in fourth, so we took a gamble,” said Roepers. “Our tactician Geoff Ewenson called for an early gybe and we picked up more pressure down our side of the course, and it paid off. It was a nice surprise, a great race to win, because this race had everything. We saw every wind condition, multiple sail changes, spinnaker changes, and it was very exciting in the fog.”

By comparison, third place was a little disappointing for Goombay Smash, who – up to this point – had a string of first-place finishes. Doug Douglass led the Swan 45s for the first half of the race, but admitted Yasha and Bellicosa had an extra gear of upwind speed. “We lost our instruments, so we were sailing blind,” said Douglass. “At that point we were guessing where the marks were and that gave the advantage to Yasha.”

In Class A, Ronald O’Hanley’s Privateer finally broke Moneypenny’s clean-sweep dominance of the big boats. In fact Jim Swartz’s Swan 601 could only manage fourth on corrected time, although it still has a comfortable five-point cushion over Swan 68 Chippewa in the overall standings. Owner Clay Deutsch was buzzing. “We had a really great day,” he said. “The best thing about the fog is we couldn’t see anything scary – it was wonderful. We had a decent start and got clear pretty quickly and once we turned the corner and headed on the long downwind leg we felt pretty good because this boat can go really fast.”

John Wayt closed in on Swan 44 Crescendo’s lead in Class B, after his Swan 44 Vixen took its first victory of the week. Vixen now sits two points behind Crescendo, owned by Leon Christianakis and Martin Jacobson, who finished third behind Swan 44 Xenophon, owned by Jeffrey Rabuffo.

In the non-spinnaker Class D, Swan 56 Defiance, owned by Peter Noonan was looking set for a handicap victory until the head of the boat’s jib exploded. Defiance’s strategist, Olympic silver medallist Bob Billingham, was upset at being forced out of the race by a gear breakdown. “It was our smaller jib that was making us go fast,” he said. “But when it broke, that was it, we didn’t have a replacement.”

So far, the 39 teams have seen a range of wind and weather in Newport, and so it is hard to imagine what surprises could be in store for the fleet today, when they revert to windward/leeward racing.

The ClubSwan Race Day culminated in the ClubSwan Prizegiving at the Regatta Village, during which Jennifer Hall, head of partnerships, racing and events for Nautor’s Swan, presented prizes to the first place Swans in each of the four classes. Following the prizegiving, Talisker held a whiskey tasting for Swan owners, crews and guests.

Results (provisional)

Class A

1. Moneypenny, Swan 601, Jim Swartz, Edgartown, Mass., 1-1-1-4, 7 points

2. Chippewa, Clayton Deutsch, Newport, R.I., 5-2-3-2, 12

3. Aqua Equinox, Filip Balcaen, BEL, 3-4-2-3, 12

Class B

1. Crescendo, Swan 44, Leon Christianakis/ Martin Jacobson, Greenwich, Conn., 1-1-1-3, 6 points

2. Vixen, Swan 44, John Wayt, Jamestown, R.I., 3-2-2-1, 8

3. Xenophon, Jeffrey Rabuffo, Middletown, R.I., 4-3-3-2, 12

Class C – Swan 45 One-Design

1. Goombay Smash, William Douglass, Stamford, Conn., 1-1-1-2-1-3, 6 points

2. Plenty, Alexander Roepers, New York, N.Y., 5-5-2-1-7-1, 14

3. Bellicosa, Massimo Ferragamo, New York, N.Y., 2-3-4-3-2-4, 14

Class D

1. Reef Points, Swan 44, Joseph Huber, Wynnewood, Pa., 1-1-1-1, 4 points

2. Amanda, Swan 53, Roland Bathory, Weston, Mass., 4-3-3-2, 12

3. Marie Blue, Swan 60, Carel Paauwe, Lutheren, NED, 2-4-8-4, 18