For the second straight summer, a team from Marblehead, Mass., has become a first-time winner of the prestigious Morgan Cup. Earlier today, Eastern Yacht Club claimed the trophy, following up on the win last summer by neighboring Corinthian Yacht Club. The two clubs are just a stone’s throw apart on Marblehead Neck. Corinthian Yacht Club finished second, with St. Francis Yacht Club of San Francisco third and New York Yacht Club-Levesque rounding out the top four.
As was the case last year, the win by Eastern is the result of a lot of hard work and a steady progression up the ranks of keelboat team racing.
“A decade ago Eastern wasn’t doing any team racing,” says Clinton Hayes, the team captain for Eastern Yacht Club. “I remember when we got our first invite to the Morgan, and we finished last, then third to last. We just put a lot of effort into this event. New York Yacht Club putting in all the effort to make this such a world-class event makes all of us sailors try so hard and show up year after year.”
The New York Yacht Club helped usher in a new era of adult team racing with the creation of the New York Yacht Club Invitational Team Race Regatta for the Commodore George R. Hinman Masters Trophy in 2000. That race, which requires skippers to be at least 45 years of age and crew to be over 40, was soon followed by the New York Yacht Club Invitational Team Race Regatta for the Morgan Cup, an all-ages event, in 2003 and, in 2010, the New York Yacht Club Grandmasters Team Race Regatta, which mandates skippers be at least 60 years of age and crew at least 50. The three team races are traditionally held over consecutive weekends in August at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, using the Club’s fleet of 22 Sonar keelboats, and annually attract some of the best adult team racers in the United States and Europe.
While the race committee ran just shy of 100 races over the three days of the Morgan Cup, it wasn’t easy. Light and fickle winds made Day 1 of the regatta quite difficult as the race committee had to keep adjusting the course, and the competitors tried to maintain focus through lengthy delays.
“The first day was a really long day with a long delay,” says Hayes. “Everyone got off the water, and we were totally burnt. The sun and the waiting around makes it really challenging.”
Nonetheless, Eastern Yacht Club finished Day 1 with seven wins against a single loss.
“A big thing was just avoiding mistakes,” says Hayes. “In light air people tend to over team race, a lot of people just get passed. So we were focused on passing other boats, sailing our boats really well, really fast, especially on the downwinds, and avoiding those stupid, unforced errors.”
More consistent sailing on Day 2 and early on Day 3 put Eastern into a strong position after two complete round-robins, with 14 wins, from 18 races, and a two-point advantage over the three teams tied for second. With the typical Newport seabreeze finally filling in, those four teams did a single, gold-fleet round robin to close out the regatta.
Corinthian beat Eastern in the opening race of the Gold Round Robin to reduce Eastern’s lead to just a single point. And since Corinthian had beaten Eastern each of the three times the two teams had sailed against one another—and therefore controlled the tie-breaker—there was effectively no margin for error.
“We knew it was close,” says Hayes of the standings heading into the final races. “We didn’t look at the exact scores, we just assumed we needed to win a majority of the races in the [Gold Fleet Round Robin]. All three races were barn burners, really tight. We were lucky to come away with two out of three.”
Many of the competitors in the Morgan Cup will return on Friday for the Hinman Trophy, for which skippers must be over 45 and crews over 40. The Grandmasters Team Race—skippers 60 or older and crews 50 or older—will take place August 26 to 28.
New York Yacht Club Invitational Team Race Regatta for the Morgan Cup
Newport, R.I., August 12 to 14
(Click here for race-by-race results)
1. Eastern Yacht Club, Marblehead, Mass., 16 points; 2. Corinthian Yacht Club, Marblehead, Mass., 15 points; 3. St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco, Calif., 13 points; 4. New York (N.Y.) Yacht Club—Levesque, 12 points; 5. Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Newport Beach, Calif., 10 points; 6. New York (N.Y.) Yacht Club—Potts, 9 points; 7. Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, 8 points; 8. San Diego (Calif.) Yacht Club, 7 points; 9. Larchmont (N.Y.) Yacht Club, 3 points; 10. Bristol (R.I.) Yacht Club, 3 points.
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