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150 years for NYYC’s Annual Regatta

An anniversary race around Conanicut Island will kick off June 11 from Newport, R.I.

The New York Yacht Club plans to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its annual regatta with a special anniversary race in Newport, R.I., this summer.

The Anniversary Regatta Around the Island Race will be an 18-mile sprint around Rhode Island’s Conanicut Island in Narragansett Bay. The June 11 race kicks off a weekend of sailracing in Newport waters. The club’s Annual Regatta will take place June 12 and 13.

The NYYC also is hosting an Annual Regatta Sesquicentennial Party. The dinner will be held at Harbour Court, June 12.

The anniversary regatta is intended to honor the yacht clubs that supported the club before it acquired its stately Newport clubhouse, Harbour Court, in 1987.

Without an on-water clubhouse, the NYYC often held events on Long Island Sound with the support of yacht clubs such as American, Manhasset Bay, Indian Harbor, Larchmont and Riverside.

“We think it’s going to be pretty special,” says Steve Wolff, chairman of NYYC’s sailing committee.

The regatta is open to yachts over 25 feet and including the following divisions: IMS Racing and IMS Cruiser/racer, Americap spinnaker classes, PHRF spinnaker classes, New York Yacht Club cruising rules, 12 Meter Yachts and classic yachts.

Prizes will be awarded to the winning yacht in each class, with a Rolex Cup presented to the winning team.

The following day, the club hosts its Annual Regatta. The two-day event will be raced on the Bay and Rhode Island Sound. Some 150 boats are expected to participate.

“It’s part of the New York Yacht Club’s tradition,” says Wolff. “It’s a very important part of our calendar.”

This year, for the first time, the regatta will include a classics division, as part of the club’s mission to promote vintage and classic yachts, says Wolff. Other events classic yachts are invited to sail are NYYC’s Race Week at Newport (July 16 to 25) and the Museum of Yachting’s Classic Yacht Regatta, celebrating its 25th Anniversary (Sept. 3 to 5).

Harbour Court is located on 8 acres overlooking Newport harbor. The building was the summer home of former Commodore John Nicholas Brown. The club purchased the property in 1987. It opened in 1988 after under-going 18 months of refurbishing.

The NYYC also has a clubhouse on 44th Street in the Manhattan section of New York City.

The NYYC’s first clubhouse was built in 1845 on land donated by Commodore John Cox Stevens, at the family estate at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, N.J., overlooking the Hudson River. The clubhouse, which was on display for many years at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn., was recently relocated to the Harbour Court property.

NYYC was founded in 1844 by Stevens and eight friends who gathered to race yachts. The club members celebrated with a group cruise, which also has become a NYYC tradition.

Other noteworthy NYYC events this summer include the biennial Race Week at Newport. North American championships for the Farr 395, Henderson 30 and J/35 classes will be determined at the regatta, presented by Rolex, July 16 to 25. Sailors from across the United States and Europe are expected to attend. The first half of the week, from July 16 to 20, is devoted to handicap racing under IMS, PHRF and Americap II, while the second half, July 22 to 25, is designed for one-design racing. A distance race, open to all divisions, takes place midweek, July 21, and is scored separately.

This year the NYYC also celebrates three members who will be representing the U.S. sailing team in the Olympics, to be held in Athens, Greece, this summer. Meg Gaillard will compete in Europe dinghies, Katie McDowell will race women’s 470s and Pete Spaulding, with Tim Wadlow, will race 49ers.