Which is the best yacht club in the United States?
Two years ago, Newport Harbor Yacht Club of Newport Beach came up with a regatta designed to answer that question. It was called the U.S. Yacht Club Challenge and involved 12 selected clubs competing in a six-race regatta in identical New York-36 sloops off Newport Beach.
The object was to determine the yacht club that could field the best racing team.
The second edition of the Yacht Club Challenge Cup is scheduled April 2-6 with teams from a dozen yacht clubs selected by a panel of national judges from an entry list of more than 200.
Selected were St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco; San Diego Yacht Club; Larchmont Yacht Club, New York; Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, Oyster Bay, N.Y.; Southern Yacht Club, New Orleans, La.; Chicago Yacht Club; American Yacht Club, Rye, N.Y.; St. Petersburg Yacht Club, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Lake Geneva Yacht Club, Lake Geneva, Wis.; Eastern Yacht Club, Marblehead, Mass.; Houston Yacht Club, and the host Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
The winning club will be awarded the Baldwin M. Baldwin Trophy donated by Maruja Baldwin Hodges. Eastern Yacht Club was the winner in 1984 and will be back to defend its title.
"The goal of this biennial event is to bring together the best amateur yachtsmen of the country," said Arthur Strock, general chairman of the regatta. "Every effort will be made to equalize the hulls and sail inventory of the boats, and teams will be required to rotate boats after each day of racing to preclude any unfair advantage."
Other yachting interest will be focused on Newport Beach during the first week of April. The 12-meter Eagle, in which NHYC will challenge for the America's Cup, will be put on display for the first time April 5-6.
Reporters will get their first glimpse of Eagle April 5 at the Mariners Mile Shipyard, 2439 W. Coast Highway. On Sunday, skipper Rod Davis and his crew will take the yacht for its first sail on Newport Bay, accompanied by several hundred yachts in a colorful parade.
Eagle was built in Newport, R.I., after three years of planning and millions of dollars spent on research, computer design and testing by designer Johan Valentijn. The boat is reputed to have a break-through winged keel. America's Cup trials will be sailed off Fremantle, Australia, next October.