Among the 29 teams participating in the 2016 Resolute Cup are a number of smaller yacht clubs eager to make a name for themselves on a national stage. “[Our members] are astounded that we qualified for our yacht club,” said Conor Hayes of Winnipesaukee Yacht Club (Gilford, NH). “We are a very small yacht club, and they are all very excited that we are able to compete on this level.”
The 2016 Resolute Cup will be sailed in Sonars and Melges 20s. © Allen Clark/PhotoBoat.com
Now in its fourth running, the biennial Resolute Cup has evolved into the unofficial keelboat championship for United States yacht clubs. From September 12 - 17, teams from across the country will compete on Narragansett Bay for national bragging rights as well as an invitation to the 2017 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. Nine clubs, will be competing for the first time in the event, which is held out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, RI, and sponsored by Porsche Cars North America, Helly Hansen and Melges Performance Sailboats.
A diverse group of entries, both in terms of the location and size of the competing clubs, has been a hallmark of the Resolute Cup since the inaugural edition. Expanding the field and enhancing the event’s unique identity has broadened its appeal. “Rarely has the Wadawanuck Club [Stonington, CT] competed on a bigger, more national level, so that was something that really had a lot of appeal,” said skipper Jason Michas. “Our membership is big enough that we could fill a Swan 42 [the boat used for the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup], but I don’t think anyone was looking to go for an event at that level. The approachability of this event, even though it’s still a yacht club national championship, made it really appealing for us as a small club.”
While some motivations for competing may differ, a core tenet of the Resolute Cup – to run a Corinthian keelboat championship amongst preeminent United States yacht clubs – rings true throughout the fleet. Each sailor must be a World Sailing Group 1 (amateur) sailor, and a full member of the club he or she represents.
“I was attracted to the concept of a real one-design event with a new format and which had the basis of promoting club competition,” said Doug Wefer of Sea Cliff Yacht Club in Sea Cliff, NY. “I would say that we haven’t had an event that the club has been as excited to cheer for as this. New York Yacht Club has done a great job of framing this as competition between clubs, and that makes the whole club excited.”
As with previous editions, the 2016 Resolute Cup will utilize two one-design fleets. Teams will sail a two-day qualifying series in both Sonars and Melges 20s, with the top 10 teams moving to the two-day championship series in Melges 20s and the remaining teams competing in Sonars. While experience in either boat can be an advantage, the Resolute Cup is anchored to the belief that the best sailors can make any boat go fast.
“The Melges 20 will be a change and that brings a whole new dynamic,” said Wefer, a four-time collegiate All-American for the University of Michigan. “I have sailed Sonars a fair amount, but the dynamics of the two boats are so different that it will take finding a strong happy medium in both classes to do well. Being consistent is key.”
The Melges 20, with its large asymmetric spinnaker, is one of the world’s most popular and most competitive sportboats. Since sails will be provided and the rig tune will be standardized across the respective fleets, the winning team will be the one that is best able to adapt to the sailing styles required for success in each design. “At the end of the day, everybody has just got sails and you do the same thing to them,” said Michas, who has extensive experience in the Melges 20. “You have to figure out in real time how what you’re doing is affecting how fast you’re going forward.”
The team that can figure that out the best will claim the 100-year-old silver trophy, a berth in the 2017 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, and the right to call themselves the fastest yacht club in the country. Live race tracking for the duration of the regatta and a live webcast of the 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. For more information, visit ResoluteCup.com.
Stu Streuli, New York Yacht Club’s Director of Communications, contributed to this report.