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Saturday, March 24 Sports

Noroton Yacht Club wins fourth straight NYYC Grandmasters regatta

A dying breeze cut short the second and final day of racing in the 2014 New York Yacht Club Grandmasters Team Race, but it could not stop the Noroton Yacht Club from steamrolling to its fourth consecutive event win on Sunday in Newport, R.I..

The NYYC Grandmasters regatta has been held four times since 2010 (the event wasn't sailed in 2011 due to Hurricane Irene), and Darien's Noroton Yacht Club team has won it each time. Following a double-round-robin formatted tournament, where each team raced every other team twice, Noroton stood atop the overall standings with a 14-0 record.

An additional round robin competition among the top four teams was scheduled to finish off the day, but when the northeasterly breeze that had fueled the racing for the better part of two days died out, the race committee decided to send the teams in. New York Yacht Club finished in second place with 10 points, as Southern Yacht Club following in third and Texas Corinthian Yacht Club took fourth.

"I thought we had a real good chance of winning the regatta," said Noroton team captain Steve Shepstone. "I didn't think we would win all the races. That was a surprise. A lot of the races were close. We thought New York Yacht Club had won the first race against us [on Saturday], so we were really surprised this morning to look at the scores and see that we beat them. One of our boats headed up and shot the line and beat them by a couple inches."

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When asked what contributed to Noroton's success Shepstone responded, "We just practice. You get into situations a couple times and you realize what doesn't work. We made mistakes. I made two mistakes in the last race; did a couple things right too, and guys on the other team made a mistake, which made up for my mistake in one case. In the other case, my teammates helped me out. So we ended up working back up to the fleet and were in the front in the end."

The Grandmasters regatta is a relatively new addition to the team racing scene, but one that is gaining in popularity.

"All of the team racing events have gotten harder every year," said Shepstone. "So we've practiced a lot and tried to raise our game so we can stay in front."