America’s sailing capital saved the best for last, and so did San Diego YC, which won the 2018 Resolute Cup with error-free sailing when it counted most. With three strong results in the double-points medal round, the team representing the SDYC, skipper Tyler Sinks with crew Nick Martin, Nick Kaschack and Max Hutchinson, moved up the scoreboard from fourth, after the preliminary round of 12 races, to win the fifth edition of the Corinthian championship for U.S. yacht clubs.
“I don’t think we were winning the regatta at any point until this afternoon,” said Sinks (right), moments after stepping ashore. “It’s all about peaking at the right time. The team really held it together when the pressure was on and rose to the occasion.”
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 potential trip to the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, sailing’s premiere international Corinthian big-boat regatta. The 2018 Resolute Cup will be sailed in the New York Yacht Club’s fleet of 23-foot Sonars. With provided sails, equalized rig tune and a regular boat rotation, it’s a true one-design event.
The race committee’s goal at the beginning of the final day was to run four full-fleet races and then move into the double-points medal round for the top half of the 28-boat fleet. But the weather, as it had for much of the four-day regatta, had other ideas. The northerly breeze evaporated after one lap of the first race and the sea breeze didn’t fill in until after noon. At that point, it was too late to start any full-fleet races so the organizing authority moved straight into the medal round, sending the bottom 14 teams to the docks and doubling the stakes.
The sea breeze finally filled in early afternoon, rewarding the 14 remaining teams with the best conditions of the week. In Race 1 of the medal round, when regatta leader Austin (Texas) Yacht Club was called over the starting line early, it immediately opened the door for the handful of teams waiting in the wings. San Diego was the first to pounce, taking a second in the opening medal round race behind Shelter Island YC (Shelter Island Heights, N.Y.), which started the medal round in 12th and wasn’t likely to factor into the final podium standings. Scott Young and Austin Yacht Club bounced back with a hard-fought second of their own in the second race, ensuring San Diego would have to be on their game in the deciding race of the regatta.
As in the first race, however, Austin Yacht Club hit the accelerator a second or two early in Race 3 and was forced to restart, giving San Diego Yacht Club and the rest of the fleet a huge lead.
“We heard that [Austin Yacht Club] was over early,” said Sinks. “But ultimately we sail best when we focus on ourselves. Nick Martin did a great job keeping us in the pressure and on the lifted tack. Nick Kaschak was doing a beautiful job trimming. And really when you focus on yourself everything else kind of works itself out. We weren’t too concerned with the other boats, but we knew what they were doing and where they were.”
Young and his crew, John Morran and 1992 Olympic silver medalist Doug Kern, did their best to make a match of it, pulling back into the middle of the pack by the final leg to the finish. But getting past a San Diego Yacht Club crew that was now content to play defense, and putting the necessary four boats in between them, was a bridge too far. Austin, in its second turn at the Resolute Cup, had to settle for second, with Eastern right behind in third. Storm Trysail Club (Larchmont, N.Y.), Larchmont (N.Y.) Yacht Club and Coral Reef Yacht Club (Coconut Grove, Fla.) rounded out the top six.
Eastern skipper Bill Lynn is both the first champion of the Resolute Cup, and the only person to have sailed in all five editions. He’s seen firsthand how the competition has evolved from its original purpose, which was solely to qualify a team for the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup.
“Initially it was focused on the Invitational Cup and you tended to have teams that had that goal in mind,” says Lynn. “There’s a lot of great yacht clubs around this country—with really, really good sailors—that don’t necessarily have the resources and the depth of talent to sign up for the Invitational Cup and they stayed away [from the Resolute Cup]. Now that it’s turned into a standalone event it seems like it’s attracting a really good depth of talent from clubs that we haven’t seen before.”
San Diego, one of three U.S. yacht clubs to have successfully defended the America’s Cup, is no stranger to big regattas. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the club on the line for the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup next year, nor would be it shocking to see the club mirror Southern Yacht Club (New Orleans), which followed up its win in the 2016 Resolute Cup with a win in the 2017 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to put together some money and make it back here next September,” said Sinks.