San Diego Yacht Club will host the 104th annual Sir Thomas Lipton Challenge Cup on October 26-28, 2018. Twelve of the most competitive teams from the U.S. and Canada will battle for the coveted Cup in a rotation of equal J/105s in the stadium sailing of San Diego Bay.
Eleven of the twelve yacht clubs competing are returning teams from the 2017 Lipton Cup, making for a similarly challenging series of races with a round robin format. After each race, competitors rotate boats, allowing for each team to have balanced boat conditions throughout the regatta.
The 12 teams competing this year are: Balboa Yacht Club, California Yacht Club, Chicago Yacht Club, Coronado Yacht Club, Long Beach Yacht Club, New York Yacht Club, Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, San Diego Yacht Club, San Francisco Yacht Club, Southwestern Yacht Club and St. Francis Yacht Club. New to the Lipton Cup is Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.
The San Diego Sir Thomas Lipton Challenge Cup dates back to the early days of yachting on the Pacific Ocean, circa 1900. Sir Thomas Lipton, the famous yachtsman and tea baron, requested that a trophy be created in his name for West Coast yacht racing excellence. This exchange soon ushered in a new, prestigious yachting event – the San Diego Sir Thomas Lipton Challenge Cup. Read more about the history of the Lipton Cup.
The Lipton Cup trophy can be found at San Diego Yacht Club, won in 2017 by SDYC skipper Tyler Sinks, a now four year Lipton Cup veteran. SDYC has been on a streak of winning every other year since the early 2000’s, most recently taking back the Cup from 2016 winner, skipper Jon Pinckney and Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
Tyler Sinks explains what he has learned from his years participating in the regatta. “It's a marathon, not a sprint. It's really all about peaking at the right time and trying to improve each and every race.”
“The win last year was special because of our loss in 2016. The team was hungry for a shot at redemption and we got it. It's always easier to play the underdog. This year, we're the defending champions, so there's probably some expectations that come with that. Fortunately, we're bringing back the all-star team from last year plus we've added US Sailing Team Member Nevin Snow, who is stepping in for Erik Shampain. Nevin has won on many levels, including being named the two-time College Sailor of the Year while at Georgetown. We're psyched to have Nevin on board,” Tyler continued.
While SDYC is a frequent winner of the Cup, on the city-front venue, local knowledge isn’t a factor. Most influences come from logics that are apparent to all skilled racers. Boat knowledge is the important resource to conscript, even if you know the course well. One of the challenges that the Lipton Cup course faces is the amount of commercial and recreational traffic. As sailors progress across the bay and into the marked channel, they encounter other outside boaters in route. Umpires are used to waive the Lipton racers off the channel avoiding the motorboats and fishermen that may not understand the match between the competitors fighting for position.
Lipton Cup Chair Alli Bell states, “The San Diego Sir Thomas Lipton Challenge Cup is a unique regatta that pulls together some of the best sailors from California, the rest of the country, and this year Canada for a weekend of competitive racing. As fierce competitors as these sailors are, we also have a lot of fun off the water. It’s great to see the camaraderie and friendships at the social events.”
SDYC Waterfront Director Jeff Johnson expresses SDYC’s pride in the event. “The legion of people that loan their boats, others who gather them, clean them, service them, tune them, rig them, and care for them during the regatta is remarkable. The helpers that just run out on the floating docks anchored in SD Bay and hold dock lines and fenders to protect the boats from getting scratched, et cetera… That sustained level of effort is extraordinary and not like any other event we host during the year. Hats off to that effort.”
The regatta will feature three days of competitive racing, along with a social event on Friday evening, Saturday night banquet and awards to follow Sunday’s races. The Lipton Cup’s Saturday Night dinner has been known as a don’t-miss event for shenanigans and good natured ribbing between the different clubs in light of the competition.
SDYC Commodore Michael Dorgan hopes to win the coveted Cup again. “Because of the amount of years we’ve been putting on the Lipton Cup, there has been bases added to the trophy to make room for the winners and yacht clubs. It’s really cool to go by the club that won the Lipton Cup and check out the trophy. I hope as Commodore that we successfully defend the cup, but most importantly that everyone comes out and has a good time.”