Taking a Lead
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.