One surefire way to gauge the quality of any sailing event is by the number of repeat participants. The New York Yacht Club’s Resolute Cup, a Corinthian Championship for U.S. Yacht Clubs, has one of the highest rates of returning competitors of any sailing event in the country. Out of the 24 clubs that will send teams to contest the sixth edition of the regatta this September, just four have never previously sailed it.
The passion for this unique event stems from the high-caliber competition, the extremely level playing field, the superb shoreside hospitality and the fact that it’s such a challenging event to win. Not since the inaugural running has a club won the trophy on its first try. Not since the second edition has any club won it on its second try.
But that won’t stop the four rookie teams for 2022 from dreaming big.
“I know we’re not stacked with ex-Olympians or collegiate All-Americans like many of the other teams,” says Michael Levert, who will skipper the entry from Pensacola (Fla.) Yacht Club. “But we’ve been competitive lately against Gulf Coast teams with those caliber sailors, so we’re eager to surprise some people.”
The Resolute Cup was first run in 2010 as the U.S. Qualifying Series for the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. The biennial regatta, which is sailed out of the New York Yacht Club Harbor Court, has since developed an identity of its own as yacht clubs from around the United States send their best amateur sailors to Newport, R.I., to compete for national bragging rights in addition to a coveted berth in the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, sailing’s premiere international Corinthian big-boat regatta. The 2022 Resolute Cup, which will run September 12 to 17, will use the New York Yacht Club’s fleet of 23-foot Sonars and a fleet of RS21s provided by regatta sponsor RS Sailing. Icarus Sports will provide live coverage of the final two days of the regatta, which is also sponsored by Hammetts Hotel, Helly Hansen and Safe Harbor Marinas.
Of the first-time clubs, Lakewood Yacht Club, outside of Houston, Texas, has on paper the best chance for a breakout performance. Skipper Danny Pletsch was a two-time All-America sailor while at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He knows what it takes to win big regattas and he knows what it takes to win the Resolute Cup, having done so in 2012 while sailing for Larchmont Yacht Club. In addition, the club owns a fleet of RS21s, allowing Pletsch and his team the opportunity to train in the boat in fleet-racing situations.
“I moved to Houston six years ago for work, and Lakewood Yacht Club has become our new home,” says Pletsch (top photo, far left, during the 2012 edition). “I think we’ll feel pretty comfortable in the RS21. That being said, we are still learning how to make the boat go fast.”
The three other first-time clubs in the 2022 Resolute Cup are Pensacola (Fla.) Yacht Club, Muskegon (Mich.) Yacht Club and Noroton Yacht Club of Darien, Conn.
Without access to a RS21, the team from Pensacola Yacht Club is relying on its experience in a similar boat. That, and the fundamentals of solid yacht racing.
“I think minimizing mistakes is highly important,” says Levert (at left). “You have to keep your head in the game and not lose focus when something inevitably goes off-plan. Being able to get clean starts and solid boat speed in two very different boats is critical. This will be a team effort to keep changing gears. We hope our experience in the Viper 640 lately will translate to the RS21.”
Something else the PYC team has on its side—though the potential impact on the final results is a little harder to gauge—is club-wide enthusiasm. The Florida Panhandle club (below, right) was one of the last to apply for an invitation to this year’s event and one of the last to receive the nod, but is leading the way in pre-regatta hype.
“The PYC enthusiasm is off the charts,” he says. “There are several members who are coming for the week just to cheer us on. No extra pressure though. We’re used to sailing in the Gulf Yacht Association’s Sir Thomas Lipton Challenge where each team has four skippers who each only get to helm one race in a four-race series. With many spectators following the four races closely, the pressure is much more tangible at that event.”
Of course, that last sentiment may be as much optimism as anything else. With friends, family and fellow members able to follow the Resolute Cup tracking for all four days and watch a live broadcast of the final two—a rare scenario for an amateur regatta—the pressure can ramp up quickly. Should a first-time team find itself in the thick of the battle on the final day, how it will react to the spotlight is impossible to predict. But even being in the conversation on the final day is a noteworthy accomplishment and, at the least, a strong foundation from which to build for the future.
2022 Resolute Cup Teams*
American Yacht Club, Rye, N.Y.; Austin (Texas) Yacht Club; Carolina Yacht Club, Charleston, S.C.; Chicago Yacht Club; Corinthian Yacht Club, Marblehead, Mass.; Eastern Yacht Club, Marblehead, Mass.; Fort Worth (Texas) Boat Club; Houston Yacht Club, La Porte, Texas; Lakewood Yacht Club, Seabrook, Texas; Larchmont (N.Y.) Yacht Club; Muskegon (Mich.) Yacht Club; New York Yacht Club; Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Newport Beach, Calif.; Noroton Yacht Club, Darien, Conn.; Pensacola (Fla.) Yacht Club; San Diego Yacht Club; Seattle Yacht Club; Shelter Island Yacht Club, Shelter Island Heights, N.Y.; Southern Yacht Club, New Orleans, La.; Stamford (Conn.) Yacht Club, St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco, Calif.; Storm Trysail Club, Larchmont, N.Y.; The San Francisco Yacht Club, Belvedere, Calif.
*one team still to be announced
Photos: Billy Black, Courtesy of Michael Levert and Pensacola Yacht Club