NEWPORT, RI (#1105) – Skipper Tyler Sinks and his crew from the San Diego Yacht Club traveled to the spiritual heart of American sailing from the opposite corner of the country – and arguably today's hotbed of yacht racing in the USA – and sailed away with the 2018 Resolute Cup hosted by the New York Yacht Club. On Saturday Sinks and crew Nick Martin, Nick Kaschack and Max Hutchinson sailed nearly error-free in the three double-points medal races to win the fifth edition of what is widely regarded as the "Corinthian" (non-professional) championship for U.S. yacht clubs.
The SDYC crew went into Saturday in fourth place after the preliminary round of 12 races.
"I don't think we were winning the regatta at any point until this afternoon," Sinks said 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 biennial regatta, sailed out of the NYYC's Harbour Court, was contested in the Club’s fleet of 23-foot Sonars and sponsored by AIG and Helly Hansen. It's a truly one-design regatta with provided sails, equalized rig tune and a regular boat rotation.
The race committee's goal Saturday had been to run four 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, didn’t cooperate. 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 in the 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 other top teams. SDYC was the first to pounce, taking a second in the opening medal-round race behind Shelter Island Yacht Club (Shelter Island Heights, New York), which started the medal round in 12th and wasn't likely to factor into the final podium standings. Scott Young skippering the Austin YC team bounced back with a hard-fought second in the second race, ensuring San Diego would have to be on its game in the regatta’s deciding race.
As in the first race, however, Austin YC hit the accelerator too early in Race 3 and was forced to restart, giving SDYC and the rest of the fleet a huge lead.
"We heard they were over early," Sinks said. "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."
Mr Sinks himself is a superb sailor, having won multiple youth and collegiate championships, and a world Team Racing championship among many other titles. He was a three-time collegiate All-American while at Boston College. The 29-year old Corinthian sailor has no Olympic or America's Cup aspirations, at least not for now. Sinks says he plans to continue competing in club challenges. He likes the competition between amateur and professionals who are sailing for the love of the sport and not for money, and is plenty busy working in San Diego's burgeoning commercial real-estate market having completed an MBA in the evenings at the University of San Diego.
Scott Young and his Austin YC crew, John Morran and 1992 Olympic silver medalist Doug Kern, did their best to make a match of it, getting up to the middle of the pack by the final leg of the third and final medal race. But getting past a San Diego YC crew that was now content to play defense, and putting the necessary four boats in between them, was too much. Austin, in its second turn at the Resolute Cup, had to settle for second, with Eastern YC (Marblehead, MA) skippered by Bill Lynn, the 2010 winners and runners-up in 2014, right behind in third. Storm Trysail Club (Larchmont, New York) and Larchmont Yacht Club rounded out the top five.
"Hopefully we'll be able to put together some money and make it back here next September for the Invitational Cup," Sinks said.
San Diego, one of three U.S. yacht clubs to have won and successfully defended the America's Cup, is no stranger to big regattas. No doubt we will see the club on the line for the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup next year, nor would it be 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 Invitational Cup.
Watch a post-regatta interview by Tucker Thompson with Mr Sinks and his team on the Resolute Cup Facebook page here.
For other details, see Saturday's Resolute Cup press release.
San Diego Yacht Club's winning crew in the 2018 Resolute Cup. Photo credit: Paul Todd / OutsideImages.com