Historical Lipton Cup goes to KYC

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (05/27/00)
By Ray Pendleton

Another page in Hawaii's yacht racing history was recorded last weekend with the completion of the annual, two-day Lipton Cup regatta, sailed offshore of Waikiki.

But, as there may be those who only associate the name Lipton with a cup of orange pekoe and may not appreciate the importance of the event, perhaps a brief history lesson is appropriate before we look at the race results.

Just over a hundred years ago, the famous English tea merchant, Sir Thomas Lipton, became intrigued with the idea of recapturing the America's Cup and taking it back to the British Isles. At that time, the New York Yacht Club, which had originally taken the Cup from the British, had successfully defended it for about a half-century.

Over the following three decades, from 1899 through 1930, Lipton stubbornly campaigned a series of yachts named Shamrock in five successive bids for the America's Cup. With each challenge he found failure, but, in the process, he developed a high level of respect for the U.S. sailing community.

Lipton's respect for America's sailors was subsequently demonstrated indeed, for he later donated numerous trophies, or as they became known, Lipton Cups, to yachting organizations throughout the country.

Two of those cups were personally presented to the yachtsmen in the Territory of Hawai`i by Lipton in 1930, and they were regularly raced for by O`ahu's Star boat fleet prior to World War II.

But, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, yacht racing was, of course, suspended indefinitely.

Once peace returned to Hawai`i, local sailors found their way back onto the water for competitions, but somehow the two Lipton Cups remained in obscurity.

Then, in 1987, one trophy resurfaced and it became the venerable prize competed for each May by invited entries from yacht clubs around the state.

Hawaii's second Lipton Cup - now known as Lipton Cup II - was returned to the sail racing community 1993 and is now awarded to the winner of a second statewide event each October.

At this year's Lipton Cup I regatta, the Hawaii Yacht Club entry, Urban Renewal, driven by Les Vasconcellos, was the defending boat after nabbing the prestigious cup from the Waikiki Yacht Club just a year ago.

Promising to avenge the previous year's loss and to retrieve the cup that had been in the WYC trophy case for eight years in a row was Hookipa, with Mike Rothwell at the helm.

Representing the Kaneohe Yacht Club, John Myrdal, Sr. (father of Hawaii's Olympic hopeful in the Laser Class boats) was driving Chuck Cotton's and Bill Riddle's Fast Forward.

After two very close races, the three boats were tied. WYC and KYC each had one first and one third place, while HYC had placed second twice.

With tradewinds up to 20 knots, Fast Forward lived up to her name and eclipsed her rivals by a slim, four-second margin (on corrected-time under the Americap handicap system).

With the win, the Lipton Cup now finds a new home on the windward side of O`ahu for the coming year.

The historic trophy will unquestionably be provided a place of honor at the KYC, in part because, like all sailors, its members are fully aware of the significance the name Lipton has in international yacht racing.

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