The Duck Cup – An Outer Banks Tradition

  • Posted On: 7th June 2013
Sailboats competing in the Nor'banks Sailing Duck Cup.

Sailboats competing in the Nor’banks Sailing Duck Cup.

The Duck Cup regatta is always the second full weekend in June (this year June 8-9), and is a Currituck Sound tradition.- by Jon Britt

Back in the 80’s, there were three sailboat rental operations in Duck, and the owners and managers of the operations—Dave, two Bills, Ben and I—decided we needed an end-of-season race event for our staff and friends. We met at the old Barrier Island Restaurant (now Sunset Grille & Raw Bar) and the Duck Cup originated—as most good events do—from five sailors sitting on bar stools having a drink or two.

The first “organized” event was held in 1986 and turned into a race across the Currituck Sound and back to the bar. It was blowing “dogs off chains” and it turned into quite an adventure. For the next several years, it became an annual event with a different race format every year and current staff and alumni staff returning for what became known as the sailing event of the season.

As Duck and the water sports businesses grew, the Duck Cup took an unscheduled hiatus—we had all invested in wave runners and we were all just too busy trying to keep those darn things running.

Remembering that bar stool conversation, I (with my company Nor’Banks Sailing) decided it was time to bring the race back. I found the trophy in someone’s attic and started making plans for the return of the Duck Cup.

In 2000, Chapter Two of the Duck Cup set sail.

Charles Thuman, Todd Hart and I were local sailors that were participating in some of the elite distance catamaran races like the Worrell 1000 and Tybee 500. This led the Duck Cup’s evolution into a 2-day distance event that any reasonably skilled sailor could enter.

The first day is a race from Nor’Banks Sailing North to the Currituck Lighthouse and back to Nor’Banks. This can be a long and rewarding day of sailing followed up by a party, which usually makes Sunday a longer day. The second day runs from Nor’Banks Sailing South to the Wright Memorial Bridge and back to Nor’Banks.

The winner of the prestigious Duck Cup is the boat with the lowest combined time over the two days.

The Duck Cup has run every year since. Attended by a mix of local sailors, visiting sailors and Nor’Banks staff, alumni and friends, it is always an adventure (light wind, strong wind, thunderstorms, smoke, fog)! Most sailors find that once they do this race, it becomes a must do on their racing calendar.

The Duck Cup is always the second full weekend in June (this year June 8-9). The start takes place at 11 am and is a “Le Mans” style start, which is great for spectators from the pier or shore.

For more information, please contact Jon Britt at 252-202-6880 or


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