To create the next great one-design class, the New York Yacht Club has partnered with Melges Performance Sailboats along with other industry leaders, including Mills Design, North Sails and Westerly Marine. The IC37 was developed to carry the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, the world’s premiere Corinthian competition, into its second decade. But interest in the boat has spread well beyond the current and former Invitational Cup participants. Sailors around the world are extremely eager to get their hands on this new boat.
“The tremendous feedback we received on this new design convinced us that this boat can be more than just the next platform for our flagship competition, the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup,” says New York Yacht Club Commodore Philip A. Lotz, a veteran one-design sailor with top finishes in the J/105, Swan 42, Melges 32, Viper 640 and Etchells classes. “We couldn’t be more pleased at the group of industry partners that have signed on to develop this class. They are each leaders in their respective fields and will help ensure that this new class is a global success.”
In May, the New York Yacht Club announced that a 37-foot boat from Mills Design had been selected from 18 entries from the world’s top yacht designers. The addition of Melges Performance Boats as the marketing and class development partner, along with North Sails and Westerly Marine, and equipment suppliers Harken and Southern Spars, completes the picture. The New York Yacht Club will purchase a fleet of 20 boats to be used for the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, starting in 2019, and a member concierge charter program. Melges Performance Sailboats will be in charge of developing the worldwide class.
“We are extremely excited to be involved in this project,” says Harry Melges III, CEO of Melges Performance Sailboats and grandson of company founder Harry C. Melges Sr. “Our success developing the Melges 20, 24, 32 and 40 classes, and as the leading builder for the scow classes, uniquely qualifies us to take on the marketing of the IC37 and the management for the Melges IC37 Class Association. This is an idea whose time has come in sailing.”
The class rules are an evolution of the principal philosophy for the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup: top-notch Corinthian competition in matched one-design boats. With the exception of one bonafide boat captain, the crew will be all World Sailing Group 1 (amateur) sailors and the inclusion of female sailors on each crew will be required. The combination of sails constructed to a common design by industry leader North Sails and hulls built to exacting tolerances by Westerly Marine, one of the world’s most respected and capable boatbuilders, will ensure a level platform previously unseen for boats this size. The innovative class structure will establish a new paradigm for true one-design racing.
“None of these ideas, on their own, are groundbreaking,” says Ken Read, President of North Sails, and a 27-year member of the Club. “One-design sails are a hallmark of successful classes such as the Laser and 49er, and the Nacra 17 has shown the potential of mandatory coed crews. But sailing hasn’t seen a boat this big embrace all these concepts from the outset. It’s a bold step by the New York Yacht Club. I think it has tremendous potential. It will greatly reduce the cost of entry and ensure that the competition is extraordinarily close.”
Westerly Marine, of Santa Ana, Calif, was selected after a worldwide search. The company, which was founded in 1970 by co-owners Lynn Bowser and Steve Lee, has built numerous high-performance sailboats, including TP52s, America’s Cup Class monohulls and offshore catamarans.
“We are looking forward to applying to the IC37 project everything we’ve learned at the cutting edge of custom, one-off boatbuilding,” says Bowser. “We’re excited to work with names synonymous with success in sailing: the New York Yacht Club, Melges and North.”
As with the competition for the design, there were many companies vying for the contract to build the 20-boat fleet commissioned by the Club, as well as the additional orders from private owners looking to join this new class.
“We explored a number of options, both here in the United States and abroad,” says Paul Zabetakis, the chair of the Club’s Sailing Committee. “We are really glad we could find a domestic builder that could deliver us the quality and and consistency we wanted at the price point we determined would make this class a success.”
Tooling is already underway at Westerly Marine, with the first boat scheduled to hit the water this coming winter. A small fleet of IC37s is expected to be sailing in Newport, R.I., next summer with the complete New York Yacht Club fleet of 20 boats delivered by the spring of 2019. Westerly Marine is anticipating a production capacity of two boats per month, which should ensure a steady supply of boats available for purchase by private owners and other clubs starting in late 2018.