Written by Kate Jones, researcher, author and historian
Journeying up the East River through the Long Island Sound to Fisher’s Island, Manhattan Yacht Club celebrated its 30th anniversary and 30 years since US42 and US46 were involved in the America’s Cup 12 meter races in Australia. The “Grand Tour” raced the two 12 meters from yacht club to yacht club all the way to Newport, RI.
At each yacht club, the 12 meters were raced by MYC crews against crews from the respective hosting clubs for a silver cup. Larchmont lost to MYC; Sewanhaka was a windless draw (settled later that evening in MYC’s favor by a game of ‘flip cup’); Sag Harbor lost to MYC after running aground while taking the lead. Fisher’s Island’s talented crew beat the US42 crew on their own boat while the crew of US46 borrowed the Fisher’s Island fleet to race in the IODs. Most of the 12 meter crew had never before sailed on the IOD, and when they were done, some of them had fallen in love.
On a coin flip, Fisher’s Island chose their boat, US42. 42’s regular skipper, Alex Settles, remained onboard to provide oversight. Alex described the race: “The Fisher’s Island group were a good crew. They had two really accomplished skippers, Peter Rugg, and Wes Maxwell.
“We had an issue with boat speed to begin with, Michael (Fortenbaugh, Commodore of Manhattan Yacht Club) was sailing very fast and had a nice trim.”
“It took them a minute to figure the boat out, and then they called the currents. They had excellent tacks. Wes said, “you know this boat takes a while to get up to speed, you have to build that in.””
At one point, “they did get a little close to one of the islands up there. I felt the boat just touch the rocky bottom and sailed on.” It wasn’t like running aground and needing a tow as both US42 and US46 required at Sag.
Alex said the junior sailors were calling tactics and calling the wind, saying she’s faster or higher. Jennifer Parsons was trimmer, she did a really good job, she figured out the jib. It looked really nice.” How did they adapt to the larger boat? “They just scaled up their IOD tactics and picked it up quickly.”
“They called the currents accurately and Fisher’s Island won the race.”
While the crew of US42 tried out US46 and lost to Fisher’s Island, the crew of 46 raced the Fisher’s Island IOD fleet. Gus Dollinger, 46’s skipper, commented on what it’s like to sail an IOD: “It’s powerful but very stable. Really cuts through the water. It’s similar to the 12s with the large keel. Because of the sail area and size of the boat you can really feel the power.”
Gus said the IODs are similar to 12s: “You have control over so many aspects: sail shape rig, rig itself, but you have core control over weight placement fore, aft, port, starboard, low in the boat, protected from windage. You feel where you are in the boat and that makes a big difference.” Gus really favored the stability of the IOD over other boats he has sailed. He loved Fishers, commenting, that day, “there was lighter air, you felt like you weren’t in Long Island Sound, but somewhere else, isolated, elsewhere.”
Luigi Galbiati, from US42, Fleet Captain of the MYC IOD fleet, commented that at Fisher’s Island there are amazing boats with incredible heritage; the owners are proud “…caretakers of these great pieces of art and we had the pleasure and privilege of sailing on them.”
“I’ve been sailing all my life and I discovered IODs 8 months ago. After two weeks I was an owner,” commented Galbiati. “We had an invitation to the Baccardi keelboat races in Bermuda. I had never been on an IOD before we left. A few days later, we were sitting in the bar in Bermuda sketching out how we were going to start a fleet.”
After sailing at Fisher’s Island, a number of members of the crew of US46 were asking Luigi how to buy into an IOD. The crew of US46 was hooked on sailing these elegant, responsive boats. Luigi commented: “What attracts every one of us that’s not a professional sailor is that we like to challenge each other on a level playing field, not a spending war, but an even playing field.”
And on that same even playing field Fisher’s Island took Manhattan Yacht Club’s Cup. Until next time…