By Harrison Turner
Close Sailing at the Cornerstone Cup in London
Team StFYC recently traveled across the pond to London, England to compete in the biennial Cornerstone Cup, a Corinthian team race between St. Francis Yacht Club, New York Yacht Club, Royal Yacht Squadron and Royal Thames Yacht Club. This was the 4th edition in the history of the event, and was hosted by Royal Thames Yacht Club at the Queen Mary Sailing Club, just south of Heathrow Airport.
The format for the event was 2-on-2 team racing in matched J/80s owned by Royal Thames Yacht Club. The idea of 2-on-2 team racing is simple: last place loses. The entire race is spent maneuvering to keep your opponent in last place. Races typically last 10-15 heart-stopping minutes and most of the time, the race is not decided until the last few feet.
The Cornerstone Cup was three days long with wins on the first day worth .5 points, wins on the second day worth 1 point and wins on the final day worth 1.5 points. Representing StFYC was Phil Perkins with John Collins, Cindy Turner and Harrison Turner and Shawn Bennett with Melissa Purdy Feagin, Tom Purdy and Ralph Silverman. Running concurrently was the Madcap, a competition between New York Yacht Club and StFYC that recently merged with the Cornerstone Cup.
The first day of racing took place in a light breeze. The Race Committee did a great job running three full round robins. After the first day, NYYC, RTYC and StFYC were tied for first, illustrating the intense level of competition. Post racing, competitors were treated to a gin tasting event at the RTYC Knightsbridge Clubhouse.
On day two, StFYC went 8-1 and surged to the lead. Once again there were three full round robins (18 total races), despite a brief rain squall. That night, RTYC arranged for the regatta to cruise down the River Thames from Hampton Court Palace (one of King Henry VIII’s palaces) to Westminster—a truly memorable trip for all as the boat passed through the outskirts of London, along two river locks and finally arrived in Central London just as the sun set.
The final day of racing had a little bit more breeze than the first two days (although not up to San Francisco standards). The racing was even closer and more hotly contested. The entire regatta came down to one final, winner-take-all, race between StFYC and NYYC to end the 9th round robin. It was a heated affair with multiple appeals to the umpires for penalties. In the end, NYYC was able to convert in the final tack and crossed the finish line to win the Cornerstone Cup and the Madcap.
The racing and camaraderie were fantastic. Royal Thames hosted a memorable event both on and off the water to close out the first hosting cycle of the Cornerstone Cup. The next edition will be held in 2019 at New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court Clubhouse in Newport, RI.