The New York Yacht Club team finished second, with the Annapolis Yacht Club team, third. The final race days’ light and shifty conditions gave all 22 teams the opportunity to shift positions on the leaderboard, but in the end most just solidified what they had already earned.
The Canadian entry, skippered by Olympic medalist and former America’s Cup skipper, Terry McLaughlin, went into the day – and the final race – with a ten-point lead over the New York Yacht Club entry. But the Canadians took charge from the start, McLaughlin recounted their strategy, 'We decided to go after New York, but it was tricky. It was five knots at the start, but it was very, very shifty and puffy, so if we let them sail their own race and we had tried to sail our own race. There is a reasonable chance that they would have put ten boats between us, so we decided that ‘ok listen’ we’ve got to be near them. If we put them back at the start and we’re back at the start than it doesn’t matter and we couldn’t lose.
'But, we still both had reasonable starts at the right end and we went right a little bit. Then they (NYYC) sort of got to us a bit, so I bailed left, but we happened to be in a great puff and gained on them a lot.'
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club team, from Toronto, sailed a nearly flawless series with seven top five finishes – out of eleven races sailed. In races where the Canadians were deep in the fleet, McLaughlin, tactician John Togerson and crew inevitably overhauled the boats ahead. McLaughin said, 'I think we came back quite well this series. Obviously yesterday was our best, going from nineteenth to sixth. Its important because you can’t get off the line in great shape or get around the first mark in great shape, eleven races in a row.'
The 55-year old sailor won a silver medal in the Flying Dutchman class in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and was the skipper of Canada I in the 1983 America’s Cup challenger series. In fact, three of his current crew were holdovers from that Cup campaign. These days his business is importing clothing and footwear from Ireland, and his sailing more relegated to only occasional racing.
In a new addition to the event, the team leading in points at the end of each day flew a 'gold' spinnaker in the following day’s races. The Royal Canadian team quickly took that honor after the first day and never relinquished it for the week.
McLaughlin was quick to praise his crew, 'It was a team effort. I mean, I make the final decisions, but I’m relying on guys that A) make the boat go fast and B) tell me what’s going on.'
Ken Colburn was skipper of the New York Yacht Club team, the only really viable threat to the Royal Canadian Yacht Club through the five days of racing, coming within five points midweek. Colburn was pleased, 'You have to step back from this and say ‘we came in second in this regatta to a team that was just doing everything well.’ You’ve got to walk away from that pleased, with just slight disappointment that you didn’t get all the way there. The Royal Canadian Yacht Club are the ultimate winner, and they deserve it.'
Like many of the teams that only managed to get everyone in the same boat relatively late, the NYYC crew started sailing together for the first time over Labor Day weekend but, according to their skipper, they quickly gelled. Colburn from Marblehead, Massachusetts, was adamant that his crew was equally responsible for their success, 'This is a team sport and I’m only driving the boat most of the time. I need tacticians and trimmers and strategists and bow people to do their jobs well, and they all did them superbly well. They were sportsmanlike, cordial, competitive, and always working to win, I couldn’t be more proud of this team.'
Peter McChesney, skipper of the Annapolis Yacht Club team which finished third, summed up what many competitors agreed, 'It was certainly, arguably, the most unique, special, exciting regatta. The professional circuits, and Olympic campaigns, and lot of great one-design classes, but certainly this is a new unbelievable regatta with worldwide excitement.'
While the North American teams dominated the top five overall positions, with Eastern Yacht Club, and Newport Harbor Yacht Club in fourth and fifth, the first international entry was the sixth-placed Japan Sailing Federation, skippered by Makoto Uematsu, followed by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (GBR), Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL), Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, and Yacht Club Argentino (ARG), rounding out the top ten finishers.
Following the success of the inaugural event in 2009, Event Chairman John Mendez and his Invitational Cup committee set to make several changes to improve the competition. Among these were changing to an all-amateur event, and on-the-water umpiring, both of which were unanimously well received by the competitors. Peter Shrubb, Chief Umpire from Bermuda, oversaw the ten-umpire team. Shrubb was pleased with the results explaining, 'We’re on the water and adjudicating any rule infractions. We can’t catch everything, but we’d like to think we caught 95%. We resolve them on the water, and it saves the competitors having to file protests against each other – it take out of their hands, puts it into our hands and makes for a friendlier, more Corinthian event.'
The final Rolex Awards Dinner was held under the marquee on the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court grounds. Competitors and guests enjoyed dinner and dancing overlooking Newport Harbor.
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club team, overall winner of the Invitational Cup were awarded a Rolex Submariner timepiece and presented the Invitational Cup trophy, which was commissioned by NYYC Commodore Robert James and past NYYC Trustee, Charlie Robertson.
NYYC’s Harbour Court hosted 22 yacht clubs – representing 16 nations from six different continents – for the second edition of this biennial event. Racing was conducted in NYYC Swan 42s on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay from September 10-17, 2011. The next edition of the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex will be held in September 2013.
Final Results – 2011 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup
1) Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Canada, 47 points
2) New York Yacht Club, USA, 67 points
3) Annapolis Yacht Club, USA, 72 points
4) Eastern Yacht Club, USA, 89 points
5) Newport Harbor Yacht Club, USA, 105 points
6) Japan Sailing Federation, Japan, 105 points
7) Royal Ocean Racing Club, Great Britain, 112 points
8) Royal Cork Yacht Club, Ireland, 115 points
9) Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Hong Kong, 120 points
10) Yacht Club Argentino, Argentina, 121 points
11) Royal Yacht Squadron, Great Britain, 122 points
12) Nyländska Jaktklubben, Finland, 127 points
13) Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Australia, 133 points
14) Clube Naval de Cascais, Portugal, 137 points
15) Norddeutscher Regatta Verein, Germany, 138 points
16) Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Bermuda, 144 points
17) Royal Cape Yacht Club, South Africa, 148 points
18) Itchenor Sailing Club, Great Britain, 150 points
19) Royal Norwegian Yacht Club, Norway, 154 points
20) Yacht Club Capri, Italy, 167 points
21) Real Club Nautico de Barcelona, Spain, 197 points
22) Yacht Club Punta Ala, Italy, 220 points