A day of intense racing on Rhode Island Sound marked the mid-point of the 2015 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. The south-south west breeze filled in early in the day, which allowed three races to be sailed in 8-10 knots by the international fleet. Like the standard of excellence established by Rolex, the competition has exceeded the expectations of the competitors.

The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club team, competing for the fourth time, has achieved two fifth-place finishes thus far in seven races. “Every time I’ve been here the standard has been higher; I hope that we’re improving as well, but definitely the competition is,” said Nick Burns.

Fielding a team which can take the time off to travel and compete is compounded by the logistics involved in travelling halfway around the world for the event. Burns explained why the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club has entered all four editions of the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup: “This is the best regatta in the world, that’s one thing. Having an even playing field, having all the boats, all the gear, the same; so the only thing you can blame is yourself if things go wrong. And also having it Corinthian; it doesn’t matter how much money you have you can’t buy a professional crew, you have to actually rely on yourselves. And, New York Yacht Club … it is the best yacht club in the world.”

The first race of the day was won by Ireland’s Royal Cork Yacht Club, which they followed with back-to-back double-digit finishes. They stand sixth overall with 49 points. The subsequent races were both won by Australia’s Middle Harbour Yacht Club, which bumped them up in the standings from eighth yesterday, to now second overall with 40 points. Returning to the top of the leaderboard is London’s Royal Thames Yacht Club which consistently finished in the top-five. They have an eight-point cushion over Middle Harbour Yacht Club.

“Being in Newport is one of the best things in the world,” said Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, skipper of the Middle Harbour Yacht Club team. “This is such a historic place and to be here and be sailing on these waters is beautiful. We’re still trying to figure out how to drive them [the Swan 42s], but clearly we’re doing something right because we had a couple of bullets today. We’re approaching it cautiously because we’re wildly above our expectations in terms of positioning in the regatta at this stage. When you get caught up in traffic, any sailor can keep going backwards and backwards because of bad air. When you’re in front, the rich get richer; that happened to us in the second and third race and we managed to keep extending our lead. ”

The racing was intense according to Brad Dellenbaugh, New York Yacht Club’s Director of Sailing. “If you missed getting off the line and got forced to the wrong direction on the first beat, you spent the rest of the race trying to catch up. Occasionally one side or the other of the course was favored, but not the same side all the time.”