Host Club Eyes Sparkling Debut In Resolute Cup
14 September 2016
As published by NYYC - NEWPORT, R.I. (September 8, 2016) — Among the 11 yacht clubs that will be competing for the first time in the Resolute Cup, a Corinthian championship for U.S. yacht clubs, one stands out. Despite hosting the event out of its Harbour Court clubhouse every other year since 2010, the New York Yacht Club has yet to compete in its own regatta. The home team will make its Resolute Cup debut next week on Narragansett Bay and, as is always the case when the New York Yacht Club competes, expectations are high.
The Resolute Cup will run from Sept. 12 to 17, and is sponsored by Porsche Cars North America, Helly Hansen and Melges USA. The event was created in 2010—as the U.S. Qualifying Series—with the express goal of providing a pathway for the many United States yacht clubs interested in participating in the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. As the host club for the latter event, with an automatic bid, there was no reason for the New York Yacht Club to compete in the Resolute Cup.
Now that the Resolute Cup has its own identity, and there is no longer any obligation for the winning team to compete in the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup, the prohibition against the host club competing was waived.
Numerous members expressed interest in sailing under the New York Yacht Club burgee during this regatta. In the absence of an established amateur team, the Club chose to assemble an all-star crew of Melges 20 veteran skipper Drew Wierda (top photo, far right) and top team racers Garrett Woodworth (at left) and Colin Smith.
"What attracted me to the Resolute Cup is I love Newport, I love the club and I love the Melges 20," said Wierda, of Holland, Mich. “I know a number of the competitors who will be sailing. When I saw the entry list, I got really excited about the high level of competition."
A hallmark of the Resolute Cup has been the use of two different designs, which rewards versatility and adaptability in the competing teams and, along with the provided sails and standardized rigging, limits the advantage that could be obtained by a sailor intimately familiar with a particular design. For 2016, the regatta will be sailed in the Melges 20, one of the world’s most exciting sportboats, and the Sonar.
The 28 competing clubs will be split into two groups of 14 for qualifying; over the first two days of the regatta the schedule calls for each team to sail seven races in a Sonar and five in a Melges 20. The top five teams from each qualifying group will make the Gold Fleet, which will sail the final two days in the Melges 20s. Qualifying scores will not carry over.
While the New York Yacht Club team has not competed together previously, the combination of Wierda’s Melges 20 experience and the time Woodworth and Smith have spent team racing in Sonars should enable the trio to get up to speed quickly in both boats.
"We are going to spend a few days before the event getting ready specifically in the Melges 20,” says Smith (Boston, Mass.). "I think getting as much time in the Melges will be super important. I also think knowledge of Newport weather and specifically the current patterns will be crucial."
Also important will be managing the expectations of the home club. In 2009, the New York Yacht Club team, led by current Vice Commodore Phil Lotz, triumphed in the inaugural Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. Will this team feel significant pressure to replicate that feat in the club’s Resolute Cup debut?
"As a member, I always feel like I am representing the club at any event," says Woodworth (Santa Monica, Calif.). "I always hope to perform my best for the team and club. If this event is any different, it's because we are the only club representatives. So there might be many eyes on us and some hopeful expectations. But we will approach this event like any other and do our best to represent the club well."
Live race tracking for the duration of the regatta and a live webcast of the event’s final two days will enable friends, family and fellow club members around the country to follow along as their team competes for one of sailing’s most challenging Corinthian honors.