Texas is not the first state in the Union that comes to mind when one thinks of sailing excellence. But sailors from the state have won four Olympic medals and skippered a pair of America's Cup challenges.
At the 2014 U.S. Qualifying Series for the Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, top amateur sailors from two Texas yacht clubs—Rush Creek Yacht Club and Texas Corinthian Yacht Club—will hope to augment the nautical legacies of their respective clubs and the Lone Star State.
'This event is not about me,' says Ryan Glaze, the skipper for the RCYC entry and a former commodore of the club. 'It’s about Rush Creek. We want to make our yacht known and respected in our circle. This isn’t about me or any of my teammates.'
The biennial keelboat competition is the only path for American yacht clubs hoping to compete in the 2015 Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, the premiere, international, Corinthian, big-boat competition. Both events are hosted by the New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court, in Newport, R.I.
In the U.S. Qualifying Series, two-dozen yacht clubs from around the country will sail for four days in matched fleets of Sonars and J/70s. The top three yacht clubs in the final standings will earn a berth in the 2015 Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, which is sailed in September 2015 in the New York Yacht Club Swan 42. Bragging rights are part of the package.
'It’s a real privilege to represent the club,' says Texas Corinthian skipper Curtis Hutcheson, who will be sailing in the event for a second time. 'We want to have a good showing. We know a lot of the competitors. The big difference [compared to other regattas] is not having any professional sailors. You don’t get to do many all-amateur events. It’s good to keep it Corinthian. And I love the club format.'
With the ability to sail year round, competitors from the two Texas yacht clubs have to deal with an 'issue' that’s somewhat foreign to their competitors in the Northeast and Midwest, burnout.
'This summer we’ve been laying kind of low,' says Glaze. 'But we’ve got a pretty rigorous training we’re hitting here at the end of August. Hopefully we’ll peak at the right time.'
After finishing sixth in 2012, Hutcheson believes that extra attention to the details will help lift Texas Corinthian into the top three.
'The conditions are likely to vary greatly,' he says, 'There are a lot of tight crossing situations and those are going to make the difference. We want to have good starts, as it’s a tough fleet to come back in. We’re excited. We’re practicing on our teamwork.'
No matter where Texas Corinthian ends up in the final standings, however, Hutcheson is sure of one thing, he and his team will thoroughly enjoy the experience.
'We had a great time in 2012,' he says. 'Everyone was so friendly. It was very competitive with all sorts of conditions and great boats. It was an awesome event.'