NEW YORK (September 21, 2017) — The pinnacle event of the Rolex Yachting calendar in the U.S. wrapped up last Saturday with the Southern Yacht Club putting forth a commanding effort to win the 2017 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup.
The fifth biennial regatta was an ode to exhaustive preparation beforehand and precision teamwork on the racecourse. Led by skipper Marcus Eagan (36, Mandeville, La.), who won the Resolute Cup last year to qualify Southern Yacht Club for the Invitational Cup, and tactician John Lovell (49, New Orleans, La.), an Olympic silver medalist in the mixed multihull discipline and four-time Olympian overall, the Southern Yacht Club crew posted the lowest winning score in the history of the regatta, 34 points, a per-race average of 2.8. Only twice in 12 races did the crew finish outside of the top-3.
Rolex has been the title sponsor of the Invitational Cup since its inauguration in 2009. The 2017 Invitational Cup featured 148 sailors from 14 yacht clubs and eight countries. Geared strictly towards Corinthian sailors, the Invitational Cup fits in Rolex’s portfolio because it helps support grass roots sailing and gives sailors a chance to compete on an international stage that they might not otherwise realize.
“It’s unbelievable the way this event provides people an avenue to support the sport of sailing,” said Eagan, who was presented a Rolex Submariner Stainless Steel Date timepiece. “I think it has electrified the club. I can’t wait to come back and do this again.”
For the winning Southern Yacht Club, the victory signified a full rebound from the devastating fire that burned down the clubhouse on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain during hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Originally founded in 1849 in Mississippi, the Southern Yacht Club purports to be the second oldest club in the U.S., behind only the venerable New York Yacht Club. The Southern Yacht Club relocated to New Orleans in 1857 and in 1879 the first clubhouse on Lake Pontchartrain was built. That clubhouse was long ago replaced, and the one that burned down during Hurricane Katrina has also been replaced.
“Twelve years ago, New Orleans suffered a catastrophe that struck every part of the city, but devastated the sailing community,” said Stephen Murray, Jr. (48, New Orleans, La.), who purchased the Swan 42 that the team trained and raced with. “The people on the stage today and in the audience with the Southern Yacht Club burgees on their ties rebuilt the sailing community from scratch. We have a vibrant racing community on gulf coast and in New Orleans because of these people.
“We’ve been very fortunate these past dozen years to regrow the club,” Murray said. “The one silver lining to Katrina is that it encouraged us to engage in more national and international racing. As a result, Southern Yacht Club is more on the map in terms of yacht clubs around the world. Doing this event confirms that.”
At the Rolex Big Boat Series in San Francisco last weekend, Sy Kleinman and the crew of his Schumacher 54 Swiftsure, won the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy, considered the top prize of six perpetual trophies. A fleet of 89 yachts contested the 53rd running of the Big Boat Series, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.
The St. Francis Perpetual Trophy was awarded at the inaugural Big Boat Series in 1964. The nonagenarian Kleinman has raced the Big Boat Series since 1980 but it is the first time he has ever won the prestigious trophy. The next Rolex Yachting event is the Rolex Middle Sea Race, scheduled Oct. 21-28, and the 2017 season concludes with the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, which starts on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, on Sydney Harbour.