Tak­ing a Lead

Sailing World - - Starting Line -

O Since 2009, the New York YC has re­lied on pri­vately owned Club Swan 42s for its sig­na­ture event, the Rolex New York Yacht Club In­vi­ta­tional Cup, but with many of the 42s sold to over­seas own­ers over the past few years, the club’s mar­quee mar­que re­gatta was in jeop­ardy of be­ing with­out a fleet. It was time for ac­tion.

“For the In­vi­ta­tional Cup to be a con­tin­u­ous event, we de­ter­mined that we needed to own the as­sets,” says Dr. Paul Za­betakis, who led a small com­mit­tee, in­clud­ing chair­man of the selec­tion sub­com­mit­tee, Art Santry, through the year­long selec­tion process that re­sulted in the com­mis­sion­ing of the IC37.

By spring 2019, the club will own and man­age a 20- boat char­ter fleet of these stripped-down 37-foot­ers. Hav­ing boats avail­able to the mem­ber­ship, like the club’s Sonars, which are used for team rac­ing, pro­vides another op­por­tu­nity for mem­bers sit­ting on the side­lines to get back into rac­ing big­ger boats, says Za­betakis.

Through a vet­ting process, re­quests for pro­pos­als went to a half-dozen yacht de­sign­ers, but word spread, and be­fore long, the com­mit­tee had 19 pro­pos­als in hand. Through a vot­ing process of elim­i­na­tion, they se­lected the de­sign put forth by Mark Mills.

The pa­ram­e­ters were for a cost-con­scious and low-main­te­nance boat sailed by seven or eight crew. It had to be fast, but sta­ble enough to be sailed by a wide spec­trum of in­di­vid­u­als. One thing they were clear on from the out­set was they didn’t want any sem­blance of an in­te­rior. Un­like the Swan 42, this is a race boat, meant to be sailed hard and put away wet. It’s bare be­low and flush-decked, which al­lows a more ef­fi­cient deck and sail-con­trol lay­out for buoy rac­ing. To avoid hy­draulic sys­tems (for cost and main­te­nance is­sues), the group fa­vored a car­bon rig with split back­stays and square-top main­sail. Ini­tially, the rest of the sail in­ven­tory will in­clude one reef-able han­ked jib, and one all-pur­pose spin­naker. With North Sails the of­fi­cial class sail sup­plier, up­wind sails will be 3Di. Harken is the of­fi­cial hard­ware sup­plier. The base boat price is $259,500, and char­ters will own their re­spec­tive sail in­ven­to­ries.

The com­mit­tee was also keen to have the boats built do­mes­ti­cally, which led them to West­erly Ma­rine in Santa Ana, Cal­i­for­nia. With molds well un­der­way in Septem­ber, the first boat is ex­pected out of West­erly by Fe­bru­ary 2018 and the builder is tasked with de­liv­er­ing two boats per month there­after. The club an­tic­i­pates buy­ers beyond its own club­house, and to fa­cil­i­tate class man­age­ment and mar­ket­ing, they’ve tapped Melges Per­for­mance Sail­boats, which cre­ated the Melges IC37 Class.

As far as man­ag­ing its own IC37 fleet in New­port, Rhode Is­land, the club will hire one full- time char­ter- pro­gram man­ager who will care for the fleet and in­ter­face with mem­bers for char­ters. The re­gatta char­ter op­er­a­tion is straight­for­ward, not much dif­fer­ent than a rental car, says Za­betakis. The boat will be prepped, launched be­fore an event, and re­ceived by the char­terer’s boat cap­tain. The char­terer as­sumes all re­gatta fees, a dam­age de­posit and owns the sails. At the con­clu­sion of the char­ter, the boat cap­tain re­turns it to the man­ager, takes off the sails, and de­liv­ers them to North Sails for stor­age or ser­vice. The fleet man­ager hauls the boat and preps it for the next re­gatta.

One- de­sign- class rules, which Za­betakis says mir­ror those of the Swan 42 Class As­so­ci­a­tion, are be­ing re­fined, but the es­sen­tials to­day have a max­i­mum crew weight of 1,455 pounds. If there’s eight or more crew mem­bers, two must be fe­male; if seven, then one fe­male; and if fewer than seven, no fe­male is re­quired. There will be no weigh-ins, but the or­ga­niz­ing author­ity can protest a team if it be­lieves it to be out of com­pli­ance. As a Corinthian class, the only pro­fes­sional sailor al­lowed on board for class rac­ing is a “le­git­i­mate” boat cap­tain, says Za­betakis. Q

Fol­low­ing a com­pre­hen­sive selec­tion process, the New York YC has a be­spoke onedesign fleet for its mem­bers, its big event, and any­one else want­ing in on a new era of Corinthian keel­boat rac­ing.

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