FAST TRACK: Jeff Sturges, president and CEO of Resolute Racing Shells, shows off one of his company’s shells. Since 1997, 10 NCAA Women’s National Championships have been won by crews who rowed primarily Resolute racing shells.
Resolute Racing Shells began with a challenge between two friends in 1994. It is now known as a racing-boat manufacturer that takes crews across the world to victory.
Childhood friends Steve Gladstone and Eric Goetz crossed paths again in Rhode Island. Goetz, an America’s Cup yacht builder, teased Gladstone, a collegiate rowing coach, about the “stone-aged craft” he was still racing. Finally, Gladstone told his friend to put up or shut up – and with that, the two embarked on the “Resolute revolution” to build a superior racing shell.
Known as the “Z-project,” the first boat the two founders built – with the expertise of marine architects and engineers – won the Head of the Charles in 1995, a feat unheard of for a relatively unknown company, said Jeff Sturges, president and CEO of Resolute. Today, all Resolute boats bear the Z logo on their bows.
Gladstone and Goetz are no longer with the company. But since its founding 19 years ago, Resolute, named after an early America’s Cup yacht, has built a reputation as a winning brand for both men and women.
Since 1997, 10 NCAA Women’s National Championships have been won by crews who rowed primarily Resolute racing shells. In 1999, the University of California-Berkeley men’s crew set the then-world record for 2,000 meters in a Resolute.
The manufacturer bought back its first racing shell, which is still going strong. Rowed by Harvard University, the 1995 boat finished second in the 2010 and 2011 Heads of the Oklahoma.
“Even though we spend a little bit more for aerospace-grade materials and hand workmanship, it’s well worth it because you get a boat that lasts you much longer,” said Sturges, a rower himself and vice president of the Quinsigamond Rowing Association.
He estimated that Resolute boats typically last three times longer at the elite, competitive level than many of their competitors. They also tend to cost 10-20 percent more than their domestic competitors, said Sturges, although they are still priced competitively with international competitors, many of whom are from Germany and Italy.
When Sturges joined the Resolute team in 2010, he brought with him a background in materials from Nypro Inc., a Clinton, Mass.-based precision-injection molder; and also in sales and marketing from his time at IBM Corp., Xerox Corp. and Vermont Composites Inc.