by Brian Hartz
More than a decade has passed since the Smyrna Yacht Club (SYC) in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, revived its Lipton Cup Regatta—breathing new life into a tradition that dates to the early 1900s, when America’s Cup legend Sir Thomas Lipton began gifting magnificent sterling silver trophies to sailing clubs around the world to promote the sport of yacht racing. In 1922, Sir Thomas provided a cup to be contested among Florida clubs; SYC “adopted” it in 1982 and held Lipton Cup Regattas until 1989, when the event went dormant. In 2004, however, enthusiasts at SYC took up Sir Thomas’s mantle once again, and the ensuing years have seen the contest become a model for how to turn a so-called elitist sport into something an entire community can rally around. Thirty local businesses and organizations were sponsors, and the inshore racecourse—easily viewable from many beachfront hotspots—was set up for optimum spectator friendliness.
Thanks to the strong support from sponsors, entry fees remain very low ($50-$80) for the three-day International Sailing Federation (ISAF) certified regatta. SYC sailing director David Smith says the Lipton Cup’s ripple effects can also be felt at the club itself. The Lipton Cup “has enabled us to build our sailing program to include the Summer Solstice Regatta in June and Boatoberfest, a three-weekend sailing fun fest throughout October. The club also organizes sail training for local youth through the Parks and Recreation Department of New Smyrna Beach.” Although the 2014 Lipton Cup Regatta was held April 11-13, there’s still plenty of time to register for the Summer Solstice Regatta. Call David Smith at (386) 426-2800. smyrnayachtclub.com