There are plenty of easier ways to win a team race. But few are more satisfying than the twisting, 17-year route Southern Yacht Club took to its first victory in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Team Race for the Commodore George R. Hinman Masters Trophy, which was held August 17 to 19 at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court.

Southern Yacht Club has been one of the stalwarts of the Hinman Trophy, which is one of the most coveted team racing trophies for masters sailors. Skippers must be 45 years old, while each crew member must be over the age of 40.

The storied New Orleans club has competed in the Hinman Trophy 14 of the 18 times it has been held. They have finished second before, in 2009, 2012 and 2013, but were never able to reach the top step of the podium until today.

“In the years we’ve been up here, we’ve been bridesmaids [second] at least three times, and third place a couple of times,” said Dwight LeBlanc, team captain for Southern Yacht Club. “We were never able to knock that door down, so it’s a big thrill to do it this year.”

With a up-and-down performance in the round robin portion of the regatta, Southern was on the bubble when it came to being one of the four boats to qualify for the semifinals. Courtesy of a tie-breaker, they snuck in as the fourth seed over the host New York Yacht Club. Their reward, a match-up with top-seeded Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, who’d put together a 15-6 record to that point in the regatta.

Southern was able to come from behind to win the semifinal match 2-1. The finals pitted Southern against three-time champion Noroton Yacht Club. Southern got out to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five final match, but Noroton won a gripping fourth race to push the championship to a winner-take-all final contest.

The deciding race was somewhat anticlimactic, with Southern winning the start and rounding the first mark with boats in first, second and third. With the wind gusting over 20 knots, however, nothing was decided until the first two Southern boats crossed the finish line, assuring the team of the win.

“The team racing becomes a little less important when it’s that windy; it’s really getting off the line clean and having good boat handling, keeping the boat moving, because you’re really not slowing the other guys down much,” LeBlanc said. “With that last race, all three of us got off the line and we controlled all our guys both on the left and the right side. We came together at the mark and I just kind of put the brakes on and let those two guys run away.”

Winning team from Southern Yacht Club: Dwight LeBlanc (skipper, team captain), Timothy Molony, John Alden Meade, Christian Gambel, John Lovell (skipper), Bruce Levy, Shelby Friedrichs, Sid Charbonnet, Andy Lovell (skipper), Charles Meade, Beau LeBlanc.

2018 New York Yacht Club Invitational Team Race for the Commodore George R. Hinman Masters Trophy
August 17 to 19, 2018
New York Yacht Club Harbour Court

Click here for full results

Gold Knock-Out Round Results
Finals: Southern Yacht Club (New Orleans) d. Noroton Yacht Club (Darien, Conn.), 3-2
Petit-Finals: Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club (Centre Island, N.Y.) d. Texas Corinthian Yacht Club (Kemah, Texas), 2-1
Semifinals: Southern YC d. Seawanhaka Corinthian YC, 2-1; Noroton YC d. Texas Corinthian YC, 2-1

Round Robin Results

1. Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club (Centre Island, N.Y.), 15 wins – 6 losses; 2. Noroton Yacht Club (Noroton, Conn.), 14 – 7; 3. Texas Corinthian Yacht Club (Kemah, Texas), 12 – 9; 4. Southern Yacht Club (New Orleans, Lou.), 12 – 9; 5. New York Yacht Club (New York, N.Y.), 12 – 9; 6. Larchmont Yacht Club (Larchmont, N.Y.), 10 – 11; 7. St. Francis Yacht Club (San Francisco, Calif.), 9 – 9; 8. Eastport Yacht Club (Annapolis, Mary.), 5 – 13; 9. Riverside Yacht Club (Riverside, Conn.), 1 – 17.

Photo credits: Stuart Streuli/New York Yacht Club