By Stuart Streuli, NYYC Communications Director
Photos by Daniel Forster
For the second time in three editions, Southern Yacht Club left the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, RI with the most prestigious trophy in Corinthian sailing, the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, firmly in its collective grasp. The team from New Orleans—led by skipper John Lovell and tactician Marcus Eagan, and supported both here and in New Orleans by hundreds, if not thousands of family, friends and fellow members—were incredibly consistent through 12 races over 5 days, with 9 top-four finishes and not a single race result outside the top 10.
Also on the Southern team were Andrew Eagan, Dwight LeBlanc IV, Christian Gambel, Jay Kuebel, Miia Newman, Katy Lovell and Rick Merriman. Kuebel, both Eagans, Lovell and Merriman were all part of the winning team in 2017. Merriman is now the only three-time winner of the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, having also won the inaugural edition as part of the New York Yacht Club team.
In some races, it looked simple as the team parlayed solid starts, prescient tactical calls and superior boatspeed into an express pass to the head of the 19-boat fleet of international yacht club teams. But in other races, particularly in the second half of the regatta, it was a battle as Southern spent a fair bit of time in the back half of the fleet.
“It’s never easy,” said Eagan, who skippered the team’s winning 2017 entry, with Lovell as his tactician. “The leads are always marginal, it’s just crazy. Especially when you’re up the Bay in a light northerly. It was very dicey. It’s all about that one cross or that good start.”
After four straight wins on Day 3 and Day 4, San Diego Yacht Club started the final day looking every bit a legitimate threat to overtake Southern for the championship. But the first race of the day couldn’t have gone any worse; an 18th knocking San Diego out of contention. Royal Thames Yacht Club took the gun, and assumed second place in the overall standings.
The regatta’s final race was perhaps its most mentally challenging, with the breeze fading in and out and shifting frequently. Royal Thames started on the wrong foot by fouling Southern just seconds before the gun. But RTYC tactician Ian Dobson and skipper John Greenland made quick work of the variable breeze to climb right back into the hunt, rounding the first mark one place ahead of Southern.
Being in front was one small victory, but getting enough separation to overcome SYC’s 13-point advantage proved too steep a climb. Greenland continued to slice through the fleet for a third, but Southern was able to follow suit, finishing sixth and becoming the second yacht club, after the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in 2011 and 2013, to win the trophy for a second time.
For more information including results, visit nyyc.org/2021-rolex-nyyc-invitational-cup.
The Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is a biennial regatta hosted by the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court. Since the event was first run in 2009, it has attracted top amateur sailors from 48 of the world’s most prestigious yacht clubs from 21 countries. The 2021 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is presented by title sponsor Rolex and regatta sponsors Helly Hansen and Hammetts Hotel. ■