New Kids on the Block: Rolex Invitational at Newport

Rolex Invitational


When the competitors representing 11 nations gather in Newport for the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, September 12-19, 2015, there will be some new faces among the 17 entered yacht club teams. Testing the talents of amateur sailors, the fourth edition of this regatta will feature one of the most competitive fields thus far in event history: almost half of the entries are competing for their fourth consecutive time. The only new kids on the block will be the Middle Harbour Yacht Club team from Mosman, Australia, about 20 minutes north of Sydney.

While Middle Harbour Yacht Club is new to this event, it brings a wealth of experience. At the team’s helm will be 2011 Rolex Farr 40 World Champion Guido Belgiono-Nettis who is familiar with the challenging conditions found on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay from having raced here many times, including during the 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.

Belgiorno-Nettis has stacked the deck with several members of his 2011 world championship-winning crew, including Sam Williams (trim), Pete Sheldrick (pit) and Chris Cook (offside trim), who all raced together in the 2014 world championship as did 2004 Etchells World Champion Julian Plante, who will handle tactics. Katie Spithill, the 2014 Australian Women’s Match Racing Champion, will be the team strategist. Rounding out the 11-strong crew is Matt Stenta, the current MC38 Australian Champion, 2010 Australian Match Racing Champion Jack Hubbard, James Bury, Michael Dunstan, and Australian Youth Championship silver medalist Ryan Wilmot. 

Coaching the Middle Harbor team is Bob Wilmot, who represented Australia in the 1988 Olympic Games in Korea, father of Ryan Wilmot and a member of one of Australia’s most well-known sailing families. Wilmot explained how the team was preparing for the 2015 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup: “We are continuing Farr 40 racing through the Aussie winter and have borrowed a boat with similar layout to the Swan 42 to get used to wheel steering and asymmetrical spinnakers. As the winter breezes in Sydney are mainly in the early morning, we are doing our Swan 42-type training sessions at 0700.

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