Corinthian Slugfest

Twenty-eight clubs send their best to the New York YC’s Resolute Cup, a unique two-design event with a dual purpose.

southern YC
Consistency was key for Southern YC’s Resolute Cup team. Marcus Eagan, Andrew Eagan and Jackson Benvenutti never scored higher than a third in the event’s 21 races.Outside Images/Paul Todd

Blasting reggae and disco music, Balboa YC’s Alex Steele, Carson Reynolds and Ryan Davidson found their stride in the final day of the 2016 Resolute Cup, hosted by the New York YC. On a provided Melges 20, they covered their rivals from Eastern YC in the final run of the last race to finish second in the race and second overall.

“It never felt so good to get second,” says Steele. “It was a tough event, and it came down to that final run.”

The Resolute Cup’s purpose is twofold: to serve as a stand-alone national championship for U.S. clubs, and as a qualifying event for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, sailed in alternating years on Swan 42s.

The regatta included a preliminary series, with 28 teams split into two groups, rotating through Sonars and Melges 20s. The top five teams from each group sailed a final gold-fleet series in Melges 20s, and the silver fleet sailed its finals in Sonars. The top two gold fleet teams earned berths in the 2017 Invitational Cup.

“This is the highest concentration of elite sailors I’ve ever sailed against,” says silver-fleet winner Marc Hollerbach, from Detroit’s Bayview YC. “There were so many good sailors, it was hard to be consistent.”

The exception was the winning team, from New Orleans’ Southern YC. “Our goal was to get top five each race,” says skipper Marcus Eagan. “We didn’t take risks.”

The Southern YC team of Eagan, his brother Andrew Eagan and Jackson Benvenutti had extensive experience in the Melges 20; Marcus Eagan was second at the 2013 Melges 20 Worlds. As a Corinthian in a mostly pro class, he sold his boat in 2013 and relished the opportunity to take the helm again in Newport. “Marcus is arguably the best Corinthian sailor of his generation in this country,” says Hollerbach. “He deserves this win.”

The Resolute Cup began in 2012 as a qualifying series for the Invitational Cup and quickly took on an identity of its own. The past two editions were contested in Sonars and J/70s, but for 2016, with the J/70 class assembled in San Francisco for its worlds, organizers explored other options.

“We needed a boat that was comparable in size to the Sonar so that crews could easily transition from one to another,” says event chair Patricia O’Donnell. “Choosing one keelboat and one sportboat is reflective of the club’s desire to be at the forefront of the sport.”

Marcus Eagan and the dominant team from Southern YC won with a race to spare, and now they hope to face off against Steele and the Balboa YC at the invitational. “We’re pretty pumped. It’s big for our club to qualify,” says Steele. “It’s paramount we go into the invitational with the best sailors we have.”