Herreshoff Classic Yacht Regatta Draws Stellar Fleet to Bristol, RI

Herreshoff Marine Museum continues its Golden Jubilee celebration with marquee event

40thedition of the Herreshoff Classic Yacht Regatta, August 27-29.

Bristol, RI – An impressive racing fleet arrived at the starting area south of Gould Island on Friday, August 27th, for the regularly scheduled feeder race from Newport to Bristol, but the wind had other plans. With thunderstorms lurking to the west, the race committee sent everyone on their way under power. However, one of the most highly anticipated parts of the annual regatta is Friday evening’s welcome reception and boat show on the Herreshoff Marine Museum’s historic waterfront, and this year’s edition did not disappoint.  Fifteen of America’s most beautiful classic yachts at the Museum’s docks provided the backdrop for a wonderful reception with a combination of competitors and classic yacht enthusiasts in attendance.

All of the wind that was missing on Friday arrived Saturday morning in the form of a dry easterly—a challenging wind direction on a bay that runs mostly north-south, but a great sailing breeze for classic yachts.  PRO Peter Gerard and his committee aboard the classic Feadship Serena set a course for Race 1 that would take the fleet up the Providence thoroughfare and around Ohio Ledge before zigzagging back to the finish off Poppasquash Point.  Harvey Jones’ Spirit of Tradition (SOT) yachtOutlier was predictably the first boat to finish followed closely by three classic 12-Meters yachts in a closely fought battle.  After corrected times were computed, Outliertook the SOT bullet with Steve Frary’s schooner Narwhal and Ken and Ginny Colburn’s Herreshoff NY40 Marilee winning the Classic division and the Vintage division, respectively. 

Race 2 took the fleet east then north under the Mt. Hope Bridge into Mt. Hope Bay, presenting tricky, tactical challenges around shifty breezes and a strong ebb current coming from Fall River.  With the smaller boatsstarting first, many of the boats arrived at the finish line off the Museum’s docks in bunches, making for some exciting viewing from shore.  The 12-Meters had their revenge with Steve Gewirz’s Onawa winning the Vintage division and Kevin Hegarty’s Columbia emerging victorious in the Classic division.  Outlier won again in SOT.

On the one-design track, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s Ospreywon both of the Herreshoff S Class races and Jay Kolyer’s Mugsy won both of the Catboat races. As part of the Museum’s Golden Jubilee, the Museum presented a special trophy to the participating skippers of the Narragansett Bay S Class Association, one of a dozen trophies presented to active Herreshoff fleets that continue to race and inspire the next generation of sailors.

Another unique feature of the Herreshoff Classic Yacht Regatta is Saturday evening’s traditional lobster dinner under the Museum’s waterfront tent.  More than 250 competitors plied their crackers while cheering for the overall winners in each class. With two bullets apiece, both Osprey and Mugsy won the one-design classes over Geoff Davis’ S Class Aquila and Charlie Appleton’s Catboat Emmalina.

The outcome in the CRF divisions was very close with Marileeeking out a one-point win over Onawa in the Vintage division, Columbiawinning a tie breaker with Steve Eddleston’s Weatherly for the Classic division crown, and Outlier taking a two-point win over Ron & Carolyn Zarrella’s Blackfish in the SOT division.

The lovely easterly evaporated overnight, and the fleet was greeted with a full glass-off Sunday morning for the annual race from Bristol to Newport. A light southeaster ruffled the bay around 1300, and Peter and his team sent everyone off on their way. The breeze failed to really fill, but the outgoing tide helped bring 12 truly dedicated crews across the finish line off Fort Adams. After a long afternoon of sailing, Matt Brooks’ Dorade, Weatherlyand Blackfish were the winners in the Vintage, Classic and SOT divisions, respectively.

This annual gathering of some of the most beautifully restored and maintained yachts in the world was made possible with support from Bristol Marine, Gowrie Group, Pure Insurance and Huckins Yachts. The 41stannual Herreshoff Classic Yacht Regatta will take place from August 26-28, 2022.

The Herreshoff Marine Museum launched its Golden Jubilee earlier this year with a series of articles on an Anniversary section of its website (www.herreshoff.org/50th), including the curious story of its founding in 1971. Sponsored by BankNewport, Ørsted, Ocean House, East Bay Newspapers, Pure Insurance, Gowrie Group, Bristol Marine, and Shipyard Brewery, this Golden Jubilee aims to engage sailors across the globe with a special focus on Herreshoff owners, past and present, and Herreshoff one-design fleets that continue to race actively from Maine to Florida. These fleets, such as Watch Hill’s, demonstrate the multigenerational dedication to the boats, and the museum is celebrating the commitment to the Herreshoff legacy with a monthly article in WindCheck Magazine, its official Golden Jubilee media partner. Also celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Newport International Boat Show has selected the museum as its charitable partner for its September 16-19, 2021 show (www.newportboatshow.com). The Museum’s next event, its Golden Jubilee Gala, will be held on September 30. This 50thAnniversary celebration concludes with a dinner at the New York Yacht Club in New York on November 18, 2021.

Since its founding, the Herreshoff Marine Museum waterfront campus has grown dramatically, starting in 1971 when it had no home but instead consisted of a small fleet of Herreshoff boats, a literal “floating museum.” Today, the museum includes a number of original company buildings, the Herreshoff family homestead, and a modern exhibition building, the Isaac B. Merriman, Jr. Hall of Boats. Named for one of the museum’s earliest benefactors, this exhibit space displays more than 60 Herreshoff boats, steam engines, and an array of artifacts. The Nathanael G. Herreshoff Model Room & Workshop exhibit is a re-creation of Captain Nat’s own model room and workshop, and contains more than 500 original design models, tools and documents. Over the past five years, the museum has delivered STEM-focused experiential education programs to thousands of Rhode Island students. The museum is now partnering with the National Sailing Hall of Fame on an America’s Cup Hall of Fame exhibit at its new Sailing Museum in Newport, RI.

The 50-year history of the Herreshoff Marine Museum has not only preserved this chapter of American ingenuity, it serves as a bridge to the future of boatbuilding, as the Town of Bristol and State of Rhode Island continue to prosper as a cradle of innovation for the maritime community. According to the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, the state’s marine industry is comprised of more than 1,700 companies employing 13,000 people and generating $2.7 billion in annual revenue.

To learn more about the Herreshoff Jubilee and these events, contact Ted Regan at t.regan@herreshoff.org or visit www.herreshoff.org. Consider joining the museum as a member of the Golden Jubilee Afterguard, or as one of 500 new members during its Golden Jubilee year.

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