© Joe Berkeley

A three-time J/24 World Champion who’s won titles in numerous other one-design classes, Brad Read has served as Executive Director at Sail Newport in Newport, Rhode Island for nearly a quarter century.

“Sailing on the family cruiser-racer as a young sailor allowed me to see the sport from various angles,” Brad recalls. “Gunkholing in the harbors of southeastern New England allowed our parents to teach us the proper way to anchor and raft to other boats, basic navigation, and really reinforced the lessons I was taking at the Barrington Yacht Club. The most lasting memories are some of the more intense moments, and lessons learned through adversity or even failure. I know that I’ll never tie a bowline without at least a six- or eight-inch tail after being told to tie it that way for years…the one time I didn’t, the dinghy bowline untied as we were cruising back from Edgartown to Narragansett Bay…learned a lot of new words from Dad that day!”

An All-American at Boston University, Brad was College Sailor of the Year in 1986. “I loved sailing in the heart of Boston. Practicing at BU or walking to MIT or Harvard to sail freshman regattas (New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association) used to have a dedicated freshman circuit which was a blast) or taking a cab to Mystic Lake to sail at Tufts was cool. The image of a sunset glimmering off the Hancock Building as we sailed in from practice is seared into my memory.”

“That was a pretty special era at BU. I met so many awesome people that have become lifelong friends (including your illustrious Publisher!). Each of our four years we were ranked in the top 5 in the country. Our Women’s, Co-ed and Team Race teams were always near the top. I had two fantastic coaches in Ron Sandstrom and Skip Whyte, and outstanding crews in Terryl King, Paul Brierre and Andy Morrell. Winning the Dinghy Nationals and being the captain of the team that won the Fowle Trophy in 1985 for the overall National Championship (the combination of the Women’s, Co-Ed Dinghies, Team Racing, Sloops and Singlehanded) still ranks as one of my top achievements in this sport.”

“After a twelve-year career as a sailmaker, I joined Sail Newport as Executive Director in 1998. Sail Newport is dedicated to making this sport accessible to anyone. We have a tremendous group of staff members that work towards the common goals outlined in our mission to provide access to sailing and our wonderful harbor and bay, and a supportive board of directors, membership base and donor base that believes in the mission.”

“Our initiatives over the 39 years of our existence have diversified the sport in many ways. Our innovative 4th Grade Science and Sailing Program with the Newport Public School system is teaching EVERY 4th grader in the public school system how to sail, while integrating their science, geography and environmental coursework. This sixteen-week program is fully funded by our wonderful donors and philanthropic partners. This signature program for Sail Newport is expanding into the Middle School this fall with a pilot after-school sailing program.”

“With over 150 sailboats, 60+ coaches, instructors and operations staff in the summer and twelve full-time employees, Sail Newport has a lot going on! It is common for us to have a major 200+ sailor youth regatta, a yacht club rendezvous at our docks, corporate team building in our J/22s, and our regular Youth Sailing program with over 200 kids going on all at once!”

Next May, Newport will once again be the North American Stopover in the fourteenth edition of The Ocean Race (formerly the Volvo Ocean Race). “After losing the bid for the 2011-12 Stopover to Miami, we adjusted our pitch to center the entire Race Village on the Fort Adams Peninsula, which is our home base,” Brad explains. “Working with the State of RI and other stakeholders, we committed to an infrastructure investment to dredge the area around our Alofsin Piers and build a new 350-foot pier that would not only host the VOR but help support Sail Newport regattas and events, as well as New York Yacht Club, Ida Lewis Yacht Club and other regattas. We created a true legacy project that introduced real intermodal transportation, more access to programs, and provided a home dock for the Tall Ship Oliver Hazard Perry.”

“Winning the bid for the 2015 Stopover was not easy, however. Baltimore was in the driver’s seat until the VOR folks finally accepted that they likely wouldn’t move the Preakness to a different weekend to accommodate the Race Start weekend! Winning that bid, with the help of Discover Newport and City and State officials, was a big moment for Sail Newport and vaulted us into an even greater relationship with the State and other local stakeholders, which led to the building of our new Marine Education and Recreation Center.”

Brad and his wife Cara enjoy cruising on their Bruckmann 47 Cutter Althea, especially the Elizabeth Islands. “Life is better when floating” is Cara’s motto. It was quite important for both of us to get our kids, Brendan and Becca, disconnected from the overscheduled world, and coastal cruising was our ‘out.’ Our kids were on the bleeding edge of children having access to digital devices and for a few years we may have convinced them that they didn’t work on the boat! Sailing the dinghy, fishing, tubing and kneeboarding behind the dinghy were absolutely wonderful alternatives to screen time…for them and for us! Cruising has been a constant throughout my life and I look forward to so much more,” Brad enthuses. “There’s always another adventure to be had.” ■

Next Article