Finalists advance to vie for Resolute Cup
Published on September 15th, 2022
Newport, RI (September 15, 2022) – Mike Tyson is famous for saying that everyone has a good plan until they get punched in the mouth. For the Shelter Island Yacht Club team competing in the 2022 Resolute Cup, Day 1 wasn’t much different than a stiff jab from the former heavyweight champion.
After six races and just one finish better than mid-fleet, the team was in ninth place, three places removed from a coveted spot in the Gold Fleet. With a two-time Olympian at the helm and a summer of practice to get ready, this wasn’t the way things were supposed to go for the venerable club at the eastern end of Long Island.
“Going into this event I really had confidence in the team that we had prepared,” says Amanda Clark, the SIYC skipper. “The first day of sailing was a real hit to our egos. We really felt like we put in a lot of time training, so [those results] were really tough.”
One of the unique aspects of the Resolute Cup is that the four-day event is really two separate regattas. The first two days is the Qualifying Series; the goal is simply to be top half in your respective fleet. That earns a spot in the Gold Fleet for the final two days of the event, and a chance at the Resolute Cup and the associated invitation to the 2023 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup.
Since the scores from the first half do not carry forward, it’s really a binary result, either a team makes the Gold Fleet or is relegated to the Silver Fleet.
The Shelter Island team is among the teams breathing a lot more easily this evening. Despite yesterday’s subpar performance, they maintained faith in their collective skill and teamwork. After four solid races today, including a pair of second-place finishes, Clark and her crew locked up sixth place in the Blue Fleet and a spot in the Gold Fleet, which starts tomorrow.
“We’re here to have fun and to race,” says Clark. “Of course, there were some quiet moments in the boat, but we just kept pushing forward. We really enjoy sailing the RS21 [which will be used exclusively for the Gold Fleet going forward] and we want to sail the finals in that.
“Our motivation was to [qualify for the] finals because if we didn’t, sailing the RS21s was going to be shut down. I’m glad this story doesn’t end.”
Another team that started the day on the bubble was Larchmont Yacht Club from Larchmont, NY. Skipper Cardwell Potts, the 2004 College Sailor of the Year, says the team took a conservative approach to the first half of the regatta.
“From looking at our score line, it was pretty tame,” says Potts of his team’s fifth-place finish in the Red Fleet. “We were trying not to do anything too crazy, trying not to win ends of the line, keep things conservative, chip away at times, not get too deep in the fleet.”
The strategy worked on Day 1, with all six finishes coming between third and eighth. But that consistency didn’t leave much margin for error on Day 2.
“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves,” says Potts. “But at the same time, we were watching people taking bigger risks like starting at the pin. It would work really well, or not at all. We were more or less happy with our approach, but it would’ve been a lot more comfortable to have more top-3s.”
Potts and his Larchmont team closed the regatta with a win in the final race. So, they seem to be trending in the right direction. And, he adds, so is the wind, which is expected to be on the lighter side after two days of relatively strong breeze.
“[The wind tomorrow] is supposed to be a bit lighter and I think we like that a little bit more,” says Potts. “I think we’re not going to do anything terribly different. I felt a little bit off the pace upwind in the breeze. If we take more or less the same approach going forward, if we have good speed, everything is going to be a good bit different. If that doesn’t work out that way, then I think we’ve got more aggressive.”
While the Larchmont and Shelter Island teams can look for optimism in their upward trend over the course of the last two days, the crew from Eastern Yacht Club is hoping to maintain their current level. Led by Clinton Hayes, the crew from Marblehead Neck won three of the four races today, displaying speed and smarts in the shifting and variable northwest wind.
“We had very good starts today, we won three out of four,” says Hayes. “With all the current, it was just being on the line. The first start, before the current switched, we just won the pin. The next few when the current [started ebbing] most of the fleet was not on the line. We had a good line sight and we started a full boatlength ahead.”
Few clubs take this event as seriously as Eastern Yacht Club. This approach has resulted in podium finishes in four of the five previous editions of the Resolute Cup. This summer, the club chartered an RS21 to ensure the team was familiar with the boat.
Nonetheless, adding a fifth podium finish to the club’s trophy case won’t be easy. While Hayes is a first-time Resolute Cup competitor, the institutional knowledge of his crew, including four-time Resolute Cup competitor Alden Reid, and his experience over the first two days has enabled him to formulate a game plan for success.
“These races aren’t super long, kind of like college sailing,” says Hayes. “If you get off the line, it makes your race easy, otherwise you’re really working hard. [We’ve learned] a bunch of little things with the RS21. We’re picking up things each time we sail it. Hopefully we can keep up the with the clubs that are really comfortable in the RS21.”
The second stage of the 2022 Resolute Cup starts tomorrow morning at 10:30 am. The 12 clubs that qualified for the Gold Fleet will sail the RS21s for the final two days while the 11 other clubs will sail in the Sonars. While the Silver Fleet won’t be competing for the Resolute Cup or a berth in the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, there is still plenty of pride on the line.
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.