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Eastern Yacht Club claims second straight Morgan Cup

by New York Yacht Club 6 Aug 23:37 BST August 4-6, 2023
Morgan Cup 2023 © Julia Boron

The path to Eastern Yacht Club's second straight win in the Morgan Cup Team Race, held over the weekend at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, was almost the exact opposite of its inaugural win last August.

"Last year, I felt like we were rolling," says team captain Clinton Hayes. "We were winning after the first round-robin, winning after the second round-robin, had a few race lead. We lost a few on Sunday and just barely squeaked in. This year was different. We struggled a little bit [at first]. Last year, we had maybe two red [penalty] flags through the event, this year we had 12. It was a much more challenging regatta for us, thankfully they did a knock-out format this 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. New York Yacht Club Regatta Association sponsors for 2023 include Helly Hansen, Hammetts Hotel and Safe Harbor Marinas.

Eastern Yacht Club won a respectable six of nine matches in Friday's round-robin, then went 1-3 in a secondary round-robin on Saturday among the top five teams. But that was enough to earn a spot in the knock-out tournament, where Eastern Yacht Club beat New York Yacht Club-Shanahan in the quarterfinals and Corinthian Yacht Club in the semis before dispatching Newport Harbor Yacht Club 2-0 in the finals to claim the trophy.

"The quarters and the semis went to the final race," says Hayes. "It was totally crazy against New York and Corinthian, but we were able to barely squeak through. It was a dominant finals, but the semis and quarters were completely insane."

With one exception, the 13 sailors that suited up for Eastern this past weekend were the same that did so a year ago. And the one new addition, Hannah Lynn (far left, with EYC skipper David Thompson), sailed last year in the Morgan for the host club. That sort of consistency is rare in adult team racing, and valuable.

"One of the biggest things is we didn't have to work on our boat handling too much," says Hayes. "When we did do some practice before the event, we were able to focus on the team-racing aspect, we didn't have to practice jibes."

The racing today, in the knock-out portion of the regatta, was particularly frenetic. No match more so than in the semifinal duel between Eastern and Corinthian, two storied yacht clubs separated by a few hundred feet of rocky shoreline on Marblehead Neck, north of Boston.

The two clubs regularly spar on Marblehead Harbor, but this best-of-three match was a notch or two above a weeknight practice. Corinthian won the Morgan Cup in 2021—when Eastern finished second—and took second last year.

"We race against them a lot, but not in this Morgan configuration, when everyone has their best people," says Hayes. "The Morgan is sort of our Marblehead Super Bowl."

Winning the Morgan Cup is a significant point of pride for any club. But Hayes says there may also be a tangible benefit to taking home the trophy, which was initially presented a century ago to Commodore J.P. Morgan to honor his service to the New York Yacht Club.

"Eastern Yacht Club has commited to team racing for many years," says Hayes. "We've been talking about replacing our Sonar fleet. We've certainly watched the New York Yacht Club amass the Sonar fleet it has, and we're deciding whether to do that too. This certainly will help."

The New York Yacht Club's team racing schedule continues with the Hinman Masters Trophy, starting on Friday. Skippers must be at least 45 years of age and the crews must be at least 40. The Grandmasters Team Race will take place August 18 to 20; skippers must be at least 60 years of age and crew at least 50.

Results available here.

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