Qualifying begins at 2022 Resolute Cup
Published on September 14th, 2022
Newport, RI (September 14, 2022) – Experience counts at the Resolute Cup. It’s been said before and it’ll be said again, but it’s more convincing to look at the hard evidence. After a sparkling day of sailing on lower Narragansett Bay, the leaders in the two qualifying fleets for the Corinthian Championship for U.S. Yacht Clubs are skippered by former winners.
Tyler Sinks of San Diego Yacht Club dominated the Blue Fleet, scoring only top-three finishes, while Danny Pletsch has Lakewood Yacht Club a point ahead of two teams in the Red Fleet. Sinks won this regatta in 2016, while Pletsch steered Larchmont Yacht Club into the winner’s circle in 2012.
“We knew we’d be comfortable in the RS21s because we have a fleet of them back home at Lakewood Yacht Club, so we were happy to start the day in that fleet,” says Pletsch. “We tried to not over complicate things, find our lane and keep going toward the windward mark.
“It was a mental day with the current going across the racecourse. And the wind was coming from Jamestown, so it was very shifty as well. I can’t say that one side worked every time; it was head-out-of-the-boat and sailing toward the dark water.”
Eastern Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club, winners in 2010 and 2014, respectively, are second and third in the Blue Fleet. Storm Trysail Club, fourth in 2016 and 2018, sits third in the Red Fleet. Corinthian Yacht Club, currently second in the Blue Fleet, is the only club in the top three in either fleet that hasn’t finished fourth or better in a previous edition of the regatta.
Sinks and his San Diego crew are technically the defending champions of the Resolute Cup as there was no event in 2020. But a lot can change in four years. The RS21 hadn’t even been introduced to the U.S. market in 2018.
“It’s been a few months since we sailed Sonars, and it’s new still in the RS21, so we’re trying to learn every single opportunity we can and just focus on staying focused,” says Kayla LaDow of the San Diego Yacht Club team. “It was a full head-out-of-the-boat day. We constantly tried to ask: ‘Are we sailing towards pressure?’ and consistently just be on top of that and just look around the racecourse and see what was coming down.”
While a 12-boat fleet is small by the standards of many popular one-designs, both Pletsch and LaDow said a strong start was key to a good race.
“There are so many good clubs and sailors involved in this event, if you try to over complicate it you start sliding back in the pack,” says Pletsch. “Key No. 1 is to get off the starting line and be able to go straight. That’s all I think about: ‘Do I have the ability to go straight off the starting line?’ If you can go straight with no one else screwing with you, you’re already top half.”
And for the first two days of the Resolute Cup, top half is all that matters since when it comes to the overall standings, first is as good as sixth during the Qualifying Series. Tomorrow evening, the top six teams in each fleet will ascend to the Gold Fleet, and the scoreboard will be wiped clean.
As a result, the most interesting part of the scorecard for the first two days isn’t the sharp end, but smack in the middle. Fans of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments refer to this precarious position as “The Bubble”.
With the Qualifying Series half finished, The Bubble is a popular place. In the Red Fleet there are five teams, separated by nine points, between fourth and eighth. In the Blue Fleet, it’s even more crowded with nine points separating fourth from ninth.
Among the clubs with their Gold Fleet hopes hanging in the balance is the host club, the New York Yacht Club, which is currently sixth in the Red Fleet. Skipper John Bainton says the path to the Gold Fleet is paved with better results in the RS21. The New York Yacht Club team opened the day with three tough races in the peppy sportboat, but rebounded with three top-four finishes in the Sonar.
“We need to improve our boathanding in the RS21,” says Bainton. “We had a struggle with that, just getting all the roles down and fine-tuning the boat handling. We’re looking forward to starting in the Sonar tomorrow so we can get a really good lay of the course. I think it’ll make it a little easier to transition into the RS21 as we’re not learning the course and the boat at the same time.”
In most one-design fleets, the best place to do research—aside from on the water—is the post-race social, when competitors are usually fairly open about sharing advice. However, the effort that many clubs have put into attending this regatta has raised the stakes. The tent this evening was a great place to reconnect with old friends and enjoy the best view of Newport Harbor. Mining for go-fast nuggets of information, however, was challenging.
“We’re all out here to have fun, but at the same time, due to the level of competition and trying to out-perform yours peers from other clubs, I do feel like there’s a bit of a sense of trade secrets, especially in the boathandling in the RS21,” says Bainton. “I that is something that gives people an edge, and some teams are a little better practiced in that boat than others.”
With a day under their collective belt, the New York Yacht Club will aim to improve their results in the RS21 while maintaining their advantage in the Sonar. If those two things fall into place, Bainton’s crew will find itself in the Gold Fleet. But every other team hovering around the mid-fleet is thinking along the same lines: fix our mistakes, continue to rely on our strengths.
Racing in the Qualifying Series for the 2022 Resolute Cup will start tomorrow at 10:30 am on lower Narragansett Bay. The Gold Fleet and Silver Fleet series will start Friday morning and run through Saturday afternoon and will be live streamed on Facebook and Youtube.
Racing is held September 14-17.
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.