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NYYC: New one-design fleet will guarantee a bright future for the Rolex Invitational Cup

After a decade of incredible competition with the Swan 42 one-design, the New York Yacht Club is proud to announce the new class that will carry the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, sailing’s premiere Corinthian interclub competition, into its second decade, and beyond.

Production on the IC37, designed by Mills Design with support from KND-Sailing Performance and SDK Structures, will start in the next few months. A fleet of 20 37-footers, all owned and maintained by the New York Yacht Club, will be available for the 2019 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. The fifth Invitational Cup will be sailed this September in 15 Swan 42s.

“A decade ago, we created a new class of boat and a ground-breaking international sailing competition,” says Commodore Philip A. Lotz. “Both have been tremendous successes. The first four editions of the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup have set a new standard for interclub competition, bringing amateur sailors from 43 yacht clubs from 21 countries to compete off Newport. The Swan 42 was an instant success with 18 boats competing in the class’s inaugural national championship in 2007. More recently, the design has found tremendous success in handicap regattas around the world. The dispersion of the class away from the Northeast United States has made it harder and harder to get enough boats to meet the continued interest in the Invitational Cup. To ensure the future of this great event, the Club decided to build its own fleet of raceboats. From 19 submissions from top yacht designers around the globe, we have selected a 37-footer drawn by Mark Mills. We think it’s the perfect choice to carry this regatta forward and build upon the substantial legacy established by the Swan 42.”

Unlike the Swan 42, which was built to cruise and race both around the buoys and offshore, the IC37 is purpose-built for competition. The flush deck, square-top main, open cockpit and wide beam carried all the way to the transom are all hallmarks of a thoroughbred raceboat, designed to be pushed hard on all points of sail.

“It’s definitely a planing downwind design,” says Mills, who founded his eponymous design firm in 1996. “We tried to find a displacement that produces that outcome, but still provides a boat you can build within the determined cost envelope and doesn’t leave you lacking stability going upwind. It will be an exciting boat to sail.”

Since the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is a Corinthian regatta sailed in supplied boats, the design brief also specified that the boat be sturdy, relatively straightforward to sail and welcoming to amateur sailors.

“One of the goals was to accommodate a wide range of ages of both genders,” says Mills. “It would be easy to do a lighter boat that’s very aggressive and very dynamic and required burly 20-somethings to sail it. But that would fail against the requirements of the club. We’re trying to create a boat that’s light and high performance, and can be sailed aggressively by a wide variety of sailors.”

The IC37—a working class title that's subject to change—will measure in at just over 37 feet, or 11.3 meters, with a 6-foot retractable sprit. The beam is just shy of 12 feet and the displacement is scheduled to be approximately 8,000 pounds with 50 percent of that in a T-bulb that will draw just more than eight feet. A two-spreader carbon rig will support 900 square feet of upwind sail area and 2,000 square feet of downwind sail area. The estimated ratings for IRC and ORC are 1.180 and 543.12, respectively.

“We were overwhelmed with the response to our initial request for proposals,” says NYYC Sailing Committee Chair Paul M. Zabetakis, who skippered the Club's Invitational Cup entry in 2015. “We feel that’s a strong indication that there’s an opportunity in sailing for the next great one-design class. While our primary goal is to create a boat that will sustain the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup well into the future, we also hope that the momentum provided by the Club’s investment will establish a class that will reinvigorate a general interest in Corinthian yachting in larger boats.”

While the class rules are a work in progress, the Club is committed to sustaining the amateur focus of the Invitational Cup and promoting the inclusion of women and youth sailors.

With the design selected, the next step is to choose a builder. Experienced yacht builders from across North American and around the globe have expressed an interest. The Club expects to make that decision within the next few weeks.

“While we have more than two years until the start of the 2019 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, our timeline doesn’t have a lot of margin for error,” says NYYC member Arthur J. Santry, who chaired the IC37 Selection Subcommittee. “We hope to start the tooling by mid July and sea trial the first boat before the end of the year.”

Commodore Lotz' connection to the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup goes back to the inaugural competition in 2009, which he won while representing the host club. He also claimed two Swan 42 National Championships.

"Each time we run the Invitational Cup, the bar gets raised," Lotz says. "The teams come to Newport better prepared and the competition gets more intense. With the IC37 we have the perfect boat to continue that trend. We expect the 2017 event, the final one for the Swan 42, to be the most competitive yet. We anticipate the switch to the IC37 will increase both the interest in competing and the effort each invited club puts toward winning Corinthian sailing's top prize."

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