While some team-race regattas draw a predominately older or younger crowd, the Baldwin Cup provides a venue for top-tier team racing that bridges the gap between generations. Now in its sixth year, the annual event, which is sailed in Harbor 20s and hosted by Newport Harbor (Calif.) YC in April, has gained momentum and popularity by drawing in older and younger sailors to meet an age requirement: half of each team’s eight members must be 30 or older.
“It’s important to be all-inclusive,” says Jon Pickney, one of the creators of the event. “Keelboats allow that—you can’t do it with the majority of team races that are in dinghies. We have father/son teams and husband/wife teams instead of just hitting one demographic.”
Bill Menninger, of Newport Harbor YC, finds that this requirement fosters a unique event. “It brings generations of sailors together,” says Menninger, who raced against his 23-year-old son. “Some of the older sailors have years of experience sailing in small keelboats, while the younger generation is great in dinghies. The two experiences meld the best yacht club teams.”
Thomas Barrows, of Yale Corinthian YC, is part of the upstart generation. “It’s fun to race against people in a large age group that you normally don’t get to sail against and on an equal playing field,” says the 25-year-old Olympic hopeful.
The spirit of the Baldwin Cup is hospitality and camaraderie, and the organizers know how to put on a good time. Twenty-five-cent beers at the yacht club plus running commentary on the docks keep both racers and spectators happy on and off the water. The competitor’s banquet is also entertaining; members of every team are encouraged to tell a joke, and there are always a few standout comedians in the crowd.