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Returning to the scene of the celebration

Published on August 21st, 2019

With the America’s Cup embroiled in courtroom drama, and professionalism rampant in the sport, the New York Yacht Club launched the Invitational Cup to have, in the words of the Deed of Gift they authored in 1887, “friendly competition between foreign countries.”

Rooted in amateurism, the biennial event began in 2009 with the one design Swan 42 Class, and in 2019 the Club will utilize its new fleet of 20 IC37 raceboats. These purpose-built machines will create the most level platform ever used for amateur big-boat racing, all owned and maintained by the Club to an identical standard.

Past winners include New York Yacht Club (2009), Royal Canadian Yacht Club (2011, 2013), Royal Thames Yacht Club (2015), and Southern Yacht Club (2017) and will be among the twenty teams to compete September 10-14. Here are profiles on these championship clubs:

NEW YORK YACHT CLUB – Newport, Rhode Island
As the host club, the New York Yacht Club has competed in every Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup since 2009, making 2019 the Club’s sixth IC within the decade. NYYC won the IC in 2009, placed second in 2011 and 2015 and finished fourth in 2017.

John Cox Stevens and eight other progressive New York yachtsmen founded NYYC in 1844. In 1898, NYYC Commodore J. Pierpont Morgan donated three lots on West 44th Street in New York to build a new clubhouse. The club acquired Harbour Court, in Newport, R.I., the former summer home of Commodore John Nicholas Brown, in 1987. It serves as an on-the-water clubhouse. The club was the keeper of the America’s Cup from 1851 to 1983.

NYYC’s team for the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup was chosen through a three-event Selection Series.

In the 2019 IC, the NYYC team will be skippered by Ray Wulff and Andy Fisher. The former J/70 rivals partnered up to charter an IC37 for the inaugural season of racing in the class. While the Invitational Cup wasn’t their first priority, after a strong start to the season in the Annual Regatta, the team turned its focus toward qualifying for the New York Yacht Club berth and was able to do so, holding off a number of strong challengers, including Vice Commodore Chris Culver’s Blazer team.

Wulff and Fisher a true partners in this team, swapping the helm regularly during each race. Wulff is responsibile for the starts and manuevers while Fisher handles the straight line speed. It’s a unique arrangement, but has proven very effective as the team has been the most consistent on the water this summer. Each skipper’s wife—Jen Wulff and Melissa Fisher—sail on the boat as well.

Doing the tactics for the Club team in this year’s IC will be Brad Read. Read is a longtime Newport-area resident who grew up sailing on Narragansett Bay. He was a stand-out collegiate sailor at Boston University, winning the Sailor of the Year honors his senior year. He’s since won numerous national and world championships, including three in the J/24 class. Read sailed as the tactician for the New York Yacht Club team—skippered by John Hele—in 2017.

ROYAL CANADIAN YACHT CLUB – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This will be RCYC’s fifth New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. RCYC finished second in the inaugural edition in 2009 and won the trophy in both 2011 and 2013. The RCYC is the only club to have won the trophy more than once.

RCYC was founded in Toronto in 1852 to serve both as a recreational yachting club and, in the British tradition, as an unofficial auxiliary of the Royal Navy in the defense of the waters of Lake Ontario. With its two Clubhouses, one in the heart of the city and the other on the Toronto Islands, RCYC is one of the premier clubs in Canada. Its welcoming community consists of active sailors and like-minded individuals who share an interest in yachting, sport and tradition.

RCYC’s team for the 2019 Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup is a mix of participants from previous IC teams combined with promising younger sailors who have advanced through the RCYC’s Junior Club and other RCYC supported racing teams and development programs. The 2019 IC team was determined through a race-off regatta held at the RCYC in May.

Since then, the team has been training and raising awareness for the event when not on the water. In addition, the team has practiced in Newport, and has utilized its sailing friends in Newport and at the NYYC to assist in preparation.

RCYC’s skipper for this year’s IC, Terry McLaughlin, is a sailing master who has raced for the past 53 years and along the way, has collected some of the world’s most coveted sailing awards. Hailing from Toronto, McLaughlin is proudly known as Sail Canada’s Rolex Sailor of the Year in 2001 and 2003, winning skipper of Canada’s Cup in 2001 and 2003, and was recognized as an All-American Intercollegiate Sailor in 1977 and 1979.

As a helmsman, McLaughlin also won the silver medal in the 1984 Olympic Games and the 2015 Pan Am Games, and led his team to victory two consecutive times in the Rolex NYYC
Invitational Cup in 2011 and 2013.

Lance Fraser will accompany McLaughlin in the 2019 IC as the RCYC team tactician. Also from Toronto, Fraser has spent the last 14 years racing in challenging, high-intensity sailing events. In his 14 years on the water, Fraser has been named the Bermuda Teen Athlete of the Year in 2011, qualified for and competed in six World Match Racing Tour Grade W Events, and can proudly say that he is the youngest skipper to ever qualify and compete in a WMRT event, doing so at age 17.

At the helm, Fraser won the 2010 Bermuda J/24 National Championship and the RCYC York Cup in 2016, 2018, and 2019. Additionally, he placed 14th overall but first as a junior in the 2008 North American Snipe Championships, and reached a high of 34th (first in Canada and Bermuda and seventh in North America) on the World Sailing Match Racing Ranking.

RTYC has competed in every Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup with the exception of the 2011 edition. The club won in 2015, the first—and still only—team from outside North America to claim the trophy.

RTYC is the oldest continuously operated yacht club in the world. It was established in 1775 when the Duke of Cumberland, brother of George III, put up a silver cup for a race on the River Thames and formed the Cumberland Fleet, which remains the alternative name of the club. The members originally met in coffee houses. From 1857, the club owned various properties in London, moving to 60 Knightsbridge, overlooking Hyde park, in 1923. The present clubhouse is the result of a development of the site in 1961.

Yachting originally took place on the Thames, but the Solent became increasingly important in the 1850s, as the steam train made for easy access to England’s South Coast. The club has had many distinguished flag officers; traditionally the commodore has been a member of the royal family. Earl Mountbatten was commodore for 20 years; the current commodore is HRH Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

RTYC’s win in the 2015 Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup—the first for a club from outside North America—was made possible by its excellent academy that boasts 150 high level members chosen from the top sailing universities, top dinghy classes and the British Olympic Yachting Association.

Leading RTYC in the 2019 IC is a powerhouse husband-and-wife team, John and Katie Greenland. Skippering for the team will be John Greenland, a veteran Rolex NYYC IC sailor from London, England, who has sailed in every edition of the Cup. John skippered for RTYC in 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2017 and did the tactics for Royal Ocean Racing Club in 2011, with his best finishes being first in 2015 and third in 2013.

He boasts a long list of winning championships and regattas; for starters, he is a European Team Racing and UK National Team Racing Champion, a three-time winner of the Commodore’s Cup, and a one-time winner of the Copa del Rey, Swan Cup, and IRC Nationals.

Katie Greenland will be doing the tactics alongside her husband for the RTYC team. Katie is also no stranger to the Invitational Cup; she competed for RTYC in both 2013 and for the club’s victorious finish in 2015.

Her racing experience is both impressive and varied. She takes up the role of skipper, tactician, strategist, or navigator in dinghy races, and Swan 42, IC37, and J70 regattas. Not to mention, she has also won the Commodore’s Cup and the Swan Cup in 2008, the J109 Spring Series in 2013, the IRC Nationals as tactician, and placed first at the Women’s Keelboat Championship at the helm.

SOUTHERN YACHT CLUB – New Orleans, Louisiana
This year will be SYC’s second Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, following their victorious debut in 2017.

SYC was founded in Pass Christian, Miss., in 1849. In 1919, America’s Cup celebrity Sir Thomas Lipton donated a trophy to SYC for an Interclub Challenge among Gulf Coast yacht clubs, sparking the reorganization of the Gulf Yachting Association.

SYC prides itself on being home to a long list of Olympic sailors; in 1932, Gilbert Gray and Andrew Libano won the United States’ first-ever gold medal in sailing; in 1968, G.S. “Buddy” Friedrichs and his crew won gold in the Dragon Class; in 1992, Flying Dutchman sailor Steve Bourdow and Paul Foerster won silver; from 1996 to 2008, Skipper Johnny Lovell and crew Charlie Ogletree dominated the US Tornado Class, winning multiple national and international championships. Their greatest success came in 2004 when the pair won the silver medal at the Athens Games.

Unfortunately, SYC’s clubhouse was destroyed by a fire during Hurricane Katrina, destroying many historic trophies and priceless artifacts. However, after two years of construction, SYC’s fourth West End clubhouse opened in 2009.

The SYC team for this year’s Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup was selected through tryouts and previous experience on the winning 2017 IC team. Most of the current team members came up through the SYC youth program sailing Optimists. In preparation for the 2019 IC, the team has practiced in the Melges 32 on the Gulf Coast and in the IC37 in Newport in June and July.

In this year’s Invitational Cup, the SYC team of returning IC champions will be led by a pair of brothers: Andy and Johnny Lovell from New Orleans. Skippering for the team will be Andy Lovell. Andy was a two-time All America selection while at the College of Charleston and won the InterCollegiate Sailing Association’s College Sailor of the Year award in 1991.

He’s also received the Buddy Friedrich’s Award at GYA Challenge Cup, finished second in the Olympic Trials in both the Laser and the Star and has won the Laser National Championship and the Star Boat Western Hemispheres. Together with his brother Johnny, he won the Melges 32 US Nationals.

Johnny Lovell, the SYC tactician, is a 4-time Olympian 1996-2008, 4-time collegiate All-American, and 11-time US Tornado Champion. He won an Olympic Silver Medal in 2004 and the Little America’s Cup. As a tactician, he has won the Melges 32 US Nationals.

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