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It's All About the Club in the U.S.Q.S.

SouthernYC Sonar

Founded in 1849 and 1875, respectively, Southern Yacht Club and Chicago Yacht Club are two of the oldest and most respected sailing organizations in the United States. Come September, in Newport, R.I., four amateur sailors from each of those two clubs will compete against teams from 22 other U.S. yacht clubs—old and young—in the 2014 U.S. Qualifying Series for the 2015 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex.

The USQS, as the regatta is commonly known, is the lone pathway for domestic clubs looking to compete for the Invitational Cup, sailing’s premiere Corinthian big-boat competition. Both events are hosted by the New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court in Newport, R.I. The top three teams in the USQS, which is sailed in J/70s and Sonars from September 2 to 6, will earn a berth in the 2015 Invitational Cup, which is sailed in the New York Yacht Club Swan 42.

CYC AirBoth clubs have mined their respective talent pools to assemble competitive teams. Chicago Yacht Club (at right), which is participating in the USQS for the first time, tabbed former U.S. Sailing Team member Mark Teborek to skipper its entry. Teborek is no stranger to high-pressure sailing events, but this one is different from most of the regattas he has done since graduating from Boston College a decade ago.

“There is an added pressure when you are not just representing yourself,” he said. “From the start we have tried to involve as many people as possible. We have the goal of qualifying, yes, but our ultimate goal extends beyond this one regatta. We want to do keelboat team racing and other national events, and get more sailors in their 20s and 30s involved in racing at CYC. In short, we are taking a long-term perspective.”

Having missed the qualifying spots in 2010 and 2012, Southern Yacht Club (below) is hoping the third time will prove to be the charm. “I would love to come back to the club having qualified us for the IC,” said skipper Zak Fanberg, a first-time USQS competitor who was an All-American sailor at the College of Charleston. “The Club has done [the USQS] a few times. I’d like to be the one that gets us qualified first.”

To do that, Fanberg and Teborek, and their respective crews, will have to revisit the skills that helped them succeed on the college sailing circuit. While the boats for the USQS are 23-foot keelboats—as opposed to the light 14-foot dinghies used in college sailing—the format is nearly identical. The boats are provided, as are the sails, the rig tuning is locked for the regatta, and the races are short. Boatspeed differences across the fleet, which help the best sailors separate from the pack in most regattas, are minimal.

SYC Pic“You have to know you’re not always going to get a good start," said Fanberg. "It’s the teams that can turn an eighth place at the top mark into a fifth, or turn a fifth at the first mark into a second, that will do well. It’s a lot of minimizing mistakes because everybody is going the same speed.”

The 24 clubs will be split into two groups for qualifying, with each group sailing in both the J/70s (at right) and the Sonars. The fleet will then be split into Gold and Silver fleets, with the former sailing in the J/70s and the latter in the Sonars.

Preparing for two different boats—among other differences, the J/70 carries an asymmetric spinnaker while the Sonar has a more traditional symmetric spinnaker—is one of the many unique challenges of this regatta.

“We have been practicing twice a week since mid-June,” said Teborek. “We went up to Harbor Springs to race a J/70 in the Ugotta Regatta. Lastly, we have coordinated with Bayview Yacht Club who is coming in to do a weekend training session in Sonars. Overall, it was a tremendous effort to get our keelboat team off the ground, but I believe it will pay dividends going forwards for the club. We have a dedicated team and a very supportive club.”
Helly Hansen Signs on as Official Clothing Supplier to the USQS

Enduring outdoor clothing company Helly Hansen is the official clothing supplier for the 2014 U.S. Qualifying Series. Founded in Norway in 1877, Helly Hansen is a leading producer of technical gear for many outdoor sports, including sailing, and is a perfect fit for the USQS.

“September in Rhode Island is usually a windy time of year, and occasionally a little brisk,” says event chairman Harry Dunning. “We are very excited to be able to provide some select items from Helly Hansen’s extensive line to each competitor in the U.S. Qualifying Series, as well as to race officials and volunteers.”


The New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex is hosted by the NYYC in Newport, R.I., at its Harbour Court Clubhouse. The fourth biennial Invitational Cup will be held September 12-19, 2015. The Invitational Cup is a regatta for yacht clubs from around the world and their sailors. It is a premier Corinthian sailing competition. The racing is in NYYC Swan 42s, the eighth one-design class created by the New York Yacht Club since 1900.
The inaugural Invitational Cup occurred in 2009, with the host club winning. The team from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club won both the 2011 and 2013 events. Teams representing clubs from all six inhabited continents and 21 countries have participated in the Invitational Cup.
The U.S. Qualifying Series (USQS) is held in even-numbered years and serves as the pathway for three yacht club teams from the United States to earn an invitation to the following year's Invitational Cup. Larchmont Yacht Club won the 2012 USQS and finished a close second in the 2013 Invitational Cup. For more on the Invitational Cup presented by Rolex and the U.S. Qualifying Series, click here.


Founded in Moss, Norway, in 1877, Helly Hansen continues to protect and enable professionals making their living on oceans and mountains around the world. Their apparel developed through a blend of Scandinavian design and insights drawn from living in some of the harshest environments on earth, helps provide the confidence professionals need to step out into the elements and complete their jobs. The company invented the first supple, waterproof fabrics more than 137 years ago, created the first fleece fabrics in the 1960s and introduced the first technical base layers made with LIFA Stay Dry Technology in the 1970s. Today, the brand’s off-shore racing, inshore sailing, coastal cruising, rainwear and marine lifestyle apparel and footwear are sold in more than 40 countries. To learn more about Helly Hansen’s latest collections, visit

Top Photo Caption: The Southern Yacht Club team sailed to second in the Silver Fleet in 2012 U.S. Qualifying Series.

USQS photo credit: Billy Black/NYYC; yacht club photos courtesy of the respective clubs.