By Chris Otorowski
One hundred years after its founding, the Cruising Club of America threw itself a big party in Newport, RI last September. More than 400 CCA members and spouses took over the Newport Harbor Hotel and its marina for four days of fun and education.
Cruising “royalty” attending included featured guest Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who delivered a keynote at the opening dinner on Monday night. Knox-Johnston was the winner of the 1968 Golden Globe, sailing singlehanded around the world, and currently manages the Clipper Round the World Race.
Besides Knox-Johnston, several other past winners of the Club’s prestigious Blue Water Medal made presentations during the week, including Rev. Bob Shepton, Rich Wilson, Randall Reeves, and Jean-Luc Van Den Heede. The latter three took part in a two-hour panel discussion on preparing for and sailing in heavy weather conditions. The Club plans to release an edited video of that session at a later date.
Club historian Doug Adkins spoke about the CCA’s rich history, enlivening his presentation with sea chanties, and Pam Rorke Levy presented the story of one of the most famous of CCA yachts, the 1929 Sparkman & Stephens design Dorade, which Levy and her husband Matt Brooks own. Dorade, plus Ed Kane and Marty Wallace’s iconic S&S yawl Bolero tied up at the marina docks for members to tour.
Later in the week, Gary Jobson premiered his 38-minute video “The Cruising Club of America: Sailing the World for 100 Years,” which can be viewed on the CCA Youtube channel.
A series of seminars was also held by Will Welles and Austin Powers from North Sails; Chris Freeman, VP at Mystic Seaport Museum; Mark Grosby, the CCA archives chair; Sheila McCurdy on “CCA Characters over the Years”; and Bill Strassberg on Crew Overboard. Participating in a yacht-design forum were Jay Gowell, Bill Cook, Jim Binch, Mark Ellis, Stan Honey, and Catherine Reppert.
The week was capped off by a clambake dinner under a big tent at Fort Adams. A number of 2021 awards were presented, both in person and virtually; many had had been deferred due to Covid restrictions. These included Matt Rutherford, Young Voyager Award; Peter and Ginger Niemann, Blue Water Medal; Curtis Green, Rod Stephens Award; Sharry and Don Stabbert, Far Horizons Award; and Skip Novak, Royal Cruising Club Trophy. Other club awards went to Jack and Zdenka Griswold, Commodore’s Award; Gretchen Biemesderfer, Charles Vilas Literary Award; and Jim Chambers, Richard S. Nye Award.
It took a small army of volunteers to make the CCA Centennial a success including a committee of 25+ members, chaired by Shawn and Commodore Chris Otorowski. The latter also welcomed his counterparts from several other prominent cruising clubs: David Beattie of the Irish Cruising Club; Moya Cahill of Royal Newfoundland YC; Vice Commodore Tim Trafford of the Royal Cruising Club; James Neville of Royal Ocean Racing Club; and Paul Zabetakis, Commodore, and Clare Harrington, Rear Commodore of New York Yacht Club.
Many sponsors helped make the week possible, including Safe Harbor Marinas, the presenting sponsor and funder of the Gary Jobson film. Also supporting the event were Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, Bowen’s Wharf, CBIZ – Jamie Stampar, Cruising World magazine, Goslings Rum, Newport Mansions, Yeoman Yachts, North Sails, Offshore Passage Opportunities, Triton Insurance, Team One Newport, Fendertex/PYI, Sea Bags, Russ Kramer Fine Art, and KVH. ■
Chris Otorowski is Commodore of the Cruising Club of America.