The 161st New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex is around the corner, and entries have climbed to over 135 as the early entry deadline (Friday, June 5) looms. Scheduled for June 12 to 14, the sailing favorite is hosted by the New York Yacht Club at its stately Harbour Court clubhouse on the waterfront in Newport, R.I., and features a mix of vintage and modern yacht racing on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound.
This year the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta falls between two world-class distance races – the Annapolis to Newport Race and the Transatlantic Race 2015 – and is attracting competitors from both events. On that list is New York Yacht Club Commodore Rives Potts (Westbrook, Conn.) who will be taking on the full triumvirate of races with Carina, his 48’ custom McCurdy & Rhodes sloop. Built in 1969 to traditional lines, Carina continually reminds that her beneath-the-skin racing character is more beast than beauty. She has sailed the classic Newport Bermuda Race 21 times, more than any other boat, and with Potts at the helm, has won that race’s Holy Grail, the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy, twice (2010, ’12).
“I love distance racing, but competing in around-the-buoy events like the Annual Regatta is where you really hone your skills and learn to perfect your sail handling in close quarters,” said Potts, adding that he has raced the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta between 30 and 40 times. “The Annual Regatta is one of the most prestigious and competitive regattas in the world. And having it held at Harbour Court in Newport…you couldn’t ask for a better venue.”
Last year, Potts was awarded a Rolex timepiece for winning the event’s separately scored Around-the-Island Race. This 19-mile circumnavigation of Conanicut Island takes place on the Friday before the Annual Regatta’s weekend buoy races and takes competitors under the magnificent spans of both the Jamestown and Pell Bridges, which link Conanicut’s quiet rural charm to the busy mainland and the decidedly more up-tempo Aquidneck Island (where Newport is located).
While Carina races in the IRC Division, the regatta also hosts racing in divisions for Classics (Spirit of Tradition, Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker classes) and One-Design (currently for Marstrom 32, 12 Metre, S Class, Swan 42, C&C 30, Etchells, J/30, J/109, J/111 classes). At the other end of the spectrum, PHRF boats and Mutihulls that want a more relaxing race experience can compete in the Navigator Division, which sails one race per day around government marks.