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Irish Teams Prepare to Race at New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup

9th September 2021
Nineteen teams from nine countries (including two from Ireland) will compete from September 14 at the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup
Nineteen teams from nine countries (including two from Ireland) will compete from September 14 at the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup Credit: Daniel Forster

For the first time since the inaugural event in 2009, the fleet for the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup will hit the starting line without a defending champion, shaking up the form guide as teams and sailing fans look toward the start of sailing’s premiere Corinthian big-boat competition starts on Tuesday, September 14.

In another first for Ireland, as Afloat previously reported, Howth Yacht Club makes its debut alongside Royal Cork Yacht Club. It brings the number of Irish teams back up to two for the first time since Dun Laoghaire's Royal St. George participation in 2009.

Re-entry concerns and strict quarantine protocols related to the COVID pandemic have forced clubs from Asia, the antipodes, and Europe to decline their spots in the regatta. The absence of the defending champions from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, along with a trio of clubs that sailed in each previous edition, has created opportunities for new international entrants and a handful of U.S. yacht clubs loaded with top amateur talent.

“While the COVID pandemic has made hosting an international sporting competition more challenging than ever, it pales in comparison to the hard work being done every day by frontline medical professionals around the globe. They have our enduring gratitude,” said Robbie Benjamin, the event chair. “We started this year with a superb entry list of 20 yacht clubs from around the world. It’s changed frequently over the past six months, but we’re tremendously proud that 19 teams that have made the commitment to travel to Newport to compete. Every former champion will compete in 2021, except for Royal Sydney. The seven U.S. clubs is a high for this regatta, but historically, the domestic teams have fared well, and we anticipate the level of competition being equal to, if not higher than, any previous edition.”

The Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is a biennial regatta hosted by the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I. Since the event was first run in 2009, it has attracted top amateur sailors from 45 of the world’s most prestigious yacht clubs from 21 countries. After five editions in the Swan 42 class, the 2021 event will be the second sailed in the IC37, designed by Mark Mills. The strict one-design nature of this purpose-built class combined with the fact that each boat is owned and maintained by the New York Yacht Club, will ensure a level playing field not seen in any other amateur big-boat sailing competition. The regatta will run from Saturday, September 11, through Saturday, September 18, with racing starting on Tuesday, September 14.

A live broadcast on Facebook and YouTube, starting on Wednesday, September 15, will allow fellow club members, friends, family and sailing fans from around the world follow the action as it happens. Nineteen teams from nine countries will compete in 2021. 

The Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup has always been much more than a sailing competition. The onshore social schedule at Harbour Court and the resulting interclub camaraderie are integral components of the experience, which competitors say is unlike any other regatta in the world. But with the first gun less than a week away, the current focus is on who might win.

With the defending champions sitting out, 2019 runner-up San Diego Yacht Club is an obvious choice. Led once again by former college all-America selections Tyler Sinks (white hat) and Jake LaDow (far left), the team has the experience and talent to win, and the confidence of knowing they were just one break away from winning this regatta in 2019.

Four clubs that have won this regatta before—New York Yacht Club, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Royal Thames Yacht Club and Southern Yacht Club—must also be considered among the favourites.

The Royal Canadian Yacht Club is the only two-time champion of the Invitational Cup. The team's preparation for 2021 included practising for and competing in the 25th edition of the Canada's Cup, the premier match-racing trophy in the Great Lakes. A 6-0 win over Youngstown (N.Y.) Yacht Club seems a strong indication the RCYC team will come to Newport with a fair bit of momentum. But skipper Terry McLaughlin wasn't willing to shoulder the yolk of pre-race favourite.

"I expect [the competition] to be as tough as ever," said McLaughlin, who won a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics. "I don’t want to say we're super prepared. We are reasonably prepared, but we haven't been fleet racing and we haven't been sailing in Newport."

McLaughlin's team is a combination of the old guard, including two teammates from Canada I campaign for the 1983 America's Cup, and the next generation of RCYC sailors, such as 28-year-old tactician Lance Fraser and Mariah Millen, who will be sailing with her dad.

"Our team is identical to the 2019 Invitational Cup team, with the exception of the mainsheet trimmer," said McLaughlin (white hat), who steered Royal Canadian to fourth in 2019. "Certainly for everybody else, they’re far more used to the IC37 this year. In 2019, we had some people in key positions on the boat who hadn't really sailed big boats much who learned quite quickly."

First-time competitors from Canada’s Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Howth Yacht Club in Ireland, and Noroton Yacht Club and American Yacht Club in the United States add an element of mystery to the pre-race discussion. Each team brings a collection of talented amateur sailors to the event. But how well they can assimilate to the IC37 and the unique format of the regatta won’t be known at least until the first race kicks off on Tuesday, September 14.

The following yacht clubs will compete for the 2021 Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup: American Yacht Club (Rye, N.Y.), Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, Mass.), Howth Yacht Club (IRL), Itchenor Sailing Club (GBR), New York Yacht Club, Noroton Yacht Club (Darien, Conn.), Nyländska Jaktklubben (FIN), Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL), Royal Swedish Yacht Club, Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR), Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (CAN), San Diego (Calif.) Yacht Club, The San Francisco Yacht Club (Belvedere, Calif.), Southern Yacht Club (New Orleans), Yacht Club Argentino, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (ITA), Yacht Club Italiano.

Published in Royal Cork YC, Howth YC Team

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Royal Cork Yacht Club

Royal Cork Yacht Club lays claim to the title of the world's oldest yacht club, founded in 1720. 

It is currently located in Crosshaven, Co. Cork, Ireland and is Cork Harbour’s largest yacht club and the biggest sailing club on the south coast of Ireland.

The club has an international reputation for the staging of sailing events most notable the biennial world famous Cork Week Regatta.

In 2020 RCYC celebrated its tricentenary under its Admiral Colin Morehead.

Royal Cork Yacht Club FAQs

The Royal Cork Yacht Club is the oldest yacht club in the world, and celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2020. It is one of the World’s leading yacht clubs, and is in the forefront of all branches of sailing activity. It is the organiser of the biennial Cork Week, widely regarded as Europe’s premier sailing event. It has hosted many National, European and World Championships. Its members compete at the highest level in all branches of sailing, and the club has a number of World, Olympic, continental and national sailors among its membership.

The Royal Cork Yacht club is in Crosshaven, Co Cork, a village on lower Cork Harbour some 20km south-east of Cork city centre and on the Owenabue river that flows into Cork Harbour.

The club was founded as The Water Club of the Harbour of Cork in 1720, in recognition of the growing popularity of private sailing following the Restoration of King Charles II. The monarch had been known to sail a yacht on the Thames for pleasure, and his interest is said to have inspired Murrough O’Brien, the 6th Lord Inchiquin — who attended his court in the 1660s and whose grandson, William O’Brien, the 9th Lord Inchiquin, founded the club with five friends.Originally based on Haulbowline Island in inner Cork Harbour, the club moved to nearby Cobh (then Cove) in 1806, and took on its current name in 1831. In 1966 the club merged with the Royal Munster Yacht Club and moved to its current premises in Crosshaven.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club today encompasses a wide variety of sailing activities, from young kids in their Optimist dinghies sailing right through the winter months to the not-so-young kids racing National 18s and 1720s during the remaining nine months. There is also enthusiastic sailing in Toppers, Lasers, RS Fevas and other dinghies. The larger keelboats race on various courses set in and around the Cork Harbour area for club competitions. They also take part in events such as the Round Ireland Race, Cowes Week and the Fastnet Race. In many far off waters, right across the globe, overseas club members proudly sail under the Royal Cork burger. The club has a significant number of cruising members, many of whom are content to sail our magnificent south and west coasts. Others head north for the Scottish islands and Scandinavia. Some go south to France, Spain, Portugal and the Mediterranean. The more adventurous have crossed the Atlantic, explored little known places in the Pacific and Indian Oceans while others have circumnavigated the globe.

As of November 2020, the Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club is Colin Morehead, with Kieran O’Connell as Vice-Admiral. The club has three Rear-Admirals: Annamarie Fegan for Dinghies, Daragh Connolly for Keelboats and Mark Rider for Cruising.

As of November 2020, the Royal Cork Yacht Club has approximately 1,800 members.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club’s burgee is a red pennant with the heraldic badge of Ireland (a stylised harp topped with a crown) at its centre. The club’s ensign has a navy blue field with the Irish tricolour in its top left corner and the heraldic badge centred on its right half.

Yes, the Royal Cork Yacht Club organises and runs sailing events and courses for members and visitors all throughout the year and has very active keelboat and dinghy racing fleets. The club also hosts many National, European and World Championships, as well as its biennial Cork Week regatta — widely regarded as Europe’s premier sailing event.

Yes, the Royal Cork Yacht Club has an active junior section with sailing in Optimists, Toppers and other dinghies.

Charles Yes, the Royal Cork Yacht Club regularly runs junior sailing courses covering basic skills, certified by Irish Sailing.


The Royal Cork hosts both keelboats and dinghies, with the 1720 Sportsboat — the club’s own design — and National 18 among its most popular. Optimists and Toppers are sailed by juniors, and the club regularly sees action in Lasers, RS Fevas, 29ers and other dinghy classes.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club has a small fleet of 1720 Sportsboats available for ordinary members to charter.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club’s Club House office can provide phone, fax, email, internet and mail holding facilities for a small charge. Club merchandise and postcards may be purchased. Showers and toilet facilities are available 24 hours a day, free of charge. Parking is plentiful and free of charge. Diesel and petrol are available on site. Marina berths are generally available for a fee payable in advance; arrangements must be made before arrival.

Yes, the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s Club House has all of the usual facilities, including bars and restaurant, which are open during normal licensing hours. The restaurant provides a full range of meals, and sandwiches, snacks etc, are available on request.

Normal working hours during the sailing season at the Royal Cork Yacht Club are 9am to 9pm daily. For enquiries contact the RCYC office on 021 483 1023 or email [email protected]

Yes, the Royal Cork Yacht Club caters for all types of events rom weddings, anniversaries, christenings and birthday celebrations to corporate meetings, breakfast meetings, luncheons, private dinners and more. For enquiries contact the Royal Cork Yacht Club office on 021 483 1023 or email [email protected]

New members are invited to apply for membership of the Royal Cork Yacht Club by completing the Nomination Form (available from and returning it to The Secretary, Royal Cork Yacht Club, Crosshaven Co Cork. Nominations are first approved by the Executive Committee at its next meeting, and following a period on display for the members, and are reviewed again at the following meeting at which any objections are considered.

No; while ordinary members of the Royal Cork Yacht Club are usually boat owners, there is no requirement to own a boat when submitting an application for membership.

The annual feel for ordinary members (aged 30+) of the Royal Cork Yacht Club is €645. Family membership (two full members and all children aged 29 and under) is €975, while individuals youth (ages 19-29) and cadet (18 and under) memberships are €205. Other rates are available for seniors, associates and more. All fees quoted are as of the 2020 annual subscription rates.

Memberships of the Royal Cork Yacht Club are renewed annually, usually within 60 days of the club’s Annual General Meeting.
For enquiries contact the Royal Cork Yacht Club office on 021 483 1023 or email [email protected]

©Afloat 2020

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