To help celebrate our Club's 30th Anniversary, we organized a tour up Long Island Sound with Arabella and the two America's Cup 12 Meters. It was one of our greatest club trips ever.
Thirty-four Members and their guests filled Arabella with an incredible feeling of camaraderie during the week. Every cabin was booked. The Tour began on Sunday evening when Arabella motored out of Morris Canal and anchored in front of the Statue of Liberty. Cocktails were followed by dinner as the sun set and the Statue lit up. After midnight, guests retired to their bedrooms and arose in the morning to one of the most magnificent views in our city. Then Arabella raised her anchor and headed off to the first stop, the historic and prestigious Larchmont Yacht Club.
Joining Arabella on this trip were the two America's Cup 12 Meters, US 42 & 46. Both of these 12 Meters are named America II and were built for the 1987 America's Cup in Freemantle, Australia. These yachts are also celebrating the 30th Anniversary of those Cup Races. The 12 Meters are owned by the NY Harbor Sailing Foundation and this past winter, many Members helped raise over $100,000 to restore US 42. She has been returned to sailing trim and this was the first summer when two 12 Meters sailed together in NY Harbor.
The 12 Meters are supported by a group of Friends who donate money to cover their annual operating costs. There are about 55 friends involved in the US 46 team which has been operating for 10 years and about 35 friends in the US 42 team which is new this year.
The idea behind the Tour is to share these important pieces of American yachting tradition with more sailors. We show up at a yacht club's dock with the two 12 Meters, flip a coin, give the host club one 12 Meter and we sail the other. Then we head out for a few races. After sailing, we invite the host yacht club onboard Arabella for Mt Gay Rum & tonics. Then all of our Members are invited ashore for dinner at the host club.
The first club along the Tour was the historic Larchmont Yacht Club, home to many America's Cup sailors. Larchmont has a grand tradition of racing at the highest levels, throughout Long Island Sound and the world. It was a great honor for our Club to share this history and "yacht club" style. Thanks very much to LYC Members Dick York and Jim Lawless for liaising with our Club to create this magical event.
On the race course, Larchmont fielded the most impressive team of the week, complete with several America's Cup veterans. The weather was overcast which also meant wind. Three races were held. In Race 1, Larchmont led the whole way until the finish when a shift from the south enabled the MYC boat to sneak by.
Photo: Race 1 of the Tour included a lucky windshift just before the finish line which allowed our Club to win. But it's ok to be lucky on your 30th Anniversary! It was a great honor to be on the race course with Larchmont Yacht Club.
In Race 2, the southerly shift continued and MYC was able to go south first off the starting line to gain an initial lead. But downwind, both boats pulled even near the leeward mark. MYC rounded outside and to leeward with LYC inside to windward. Both yachts headed off on a port tack and as the wind continued to clock, LYC was forced to tack off for clear air, leaving MYC to win. In the final race, LYC came back to claim a victory.
After sailing, all LYC members were invited aboard Arabella for a Mt Gay Rum party. More drinks were consumed than at any other stop on the Tour, perhaps attributable to it being the first evening and the rainy conditions. From there, everyone rode a launch to LYC for dinner. Larchmont has one of the best nautical rooms in the country, directly inside the club and looking out over Long Island Sound. For anyone interested in understanding "yachting style," this room is a must place to experience.
LYC graciously opened their club for dinner because they are normally closed on Monday evenings. Our Members put on their yachting attire and made a strong showing. There were some great speeches, LYC presented MYC with a beautiful tray which is now hanging in our clubhouse, and the movie "Wind" played in the background during dinner. By the way, the main yacht in this movie is our own US 42.
After Larchmont, the America IIs headed off to Oyster Bay the next morning for an intramural race between our two 12 meter teams. US 42 was winning the whole way until just before the harbor buoy when US 46 used their experience to snatch the lead.
The reward for Day 2 of the Tour was the equally prestigious Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club. This Club is based on Centre Island with a commanding view of Oyster Bay. It is perhaps the most civilized and relaxing yacht club on the East Coast. The view over their mooring field is stunning and the porch of the club is hypnotic, lulling sailors into a sense of peace and serenity. We were fortunate to have Commodore Willets Meyer as our liaison for the visit.
To get a sense of the grandeur of arriving at SCYC, see this video
At the appointed time, the MYC and SCYC teams met on the porch and were introduced to the race committee. A coin was tossed and each boat received their designated 12 Meter. As a special token of friendship, the SCYC Commodore joined our MYC Commodore onboard for the race.
Although there had been breeze during the day, it drifted away in the afternoon. After floating around, common sense dictated that we head back to Arabella and begin our Mt Gay & tonics party earlier. Both 12 Meters rafted alongside and the SCYC launch brought out the Race Committee and other local sailors. It was a great start to the evening and was followed by speeches of appreciation and a BBQ dinner back at the SCYC.
But there was still the issue of which club would win the Perpetual Cup. Discretion was given to the Race Committee to propose any type of competition. They choose a game called "Flip Cup" and both 12 Meter teams gathered at a long table to determine a winner. It was very close and although SCYC had an early lead, MYC came on strong at the end with the winning flip. You can see the action in this video:
The next day's run was all the way to Sag Harbor and the 12 Meters pushed off early, followed by Arabella. It was a beautiful trip up the Sound and by mid-afternoon, Arabella turned the corner of the north fork and headed into Sag Harbor. Upon anchoring, the Pico dinghies were launched so that more competitions could be held while waiting for the 12 Meters.
Our hosts were the Breakwater Yacht Club and our liaison was Bud Rogers who has also led the Cravath Swaine & Moore corporate team at our Club for many years. Bud is a super supporter of sailing and invited our 12 Meters to participate in Breakwater's Wednesday evening race. Everything seemed to be going according to plan. The first 12 Meter arrived and the coin toss was held. But just before reaching the dock, the second 12 Meter touched bottom and with a super low tide, got stuck. It took 3 powerboats and about 30 minutes to pull her out of the mud. By the time both 12 Meters got to the starting line, it was getting late.
In this race, MYC had a lead at the start and then experienced an override on the starboard genoa sheet. The genoa had to be lowered to release the pressure and the BYC boat slipped by into the lead. It was looking challenging for our Club but at the second mark, the BYC boat suddenly stopped after finding another mud shelf (the historic low tide). Our team altered course, went to the center of the channel and continued around the course to win. Spirits were high on our boat as we dropped our sails and motored back to the club. But right in front of the town pier, we touched ground too! It was somewhat embarrassing and we needed the assistance of a powerboat to pull us back to deeper water.
Once refloated, the only casualty was the cocktail party meant to be held on Arabella. About 100 pre-poured Mt Gay & tonics stood waiting while the handful of Members on Arabella did their best before heading to the regatta dinner and dance at BYC.
The next morning saw our second intramural race between US 42 & 46 from Sag Harbor to Fishers Island. At Fisher's, we were greeted by the World IOD Class President Peter Rugg who used to race at our Club in late 1980s on the JP Morgan corporate team.
The ceremonial coin toss was held and each club boarded their 12 Meter yachts. There was a light southerly breeze and MYC jumped out to an early lead. But Fishers Island Yacht Club had a few tricks up their sleeve and understood the nuances of the current. They tacked into the lee of an island and ended up with a big lead which brought them to victory.
After the racing, both 12 Meters rafted up to Arabella again and the Mt Gay Rum & tonics were served. By this point in the Tour, Members were having a blast, laughing and socializing and generally loving every moment.
From the Arabella party, everyone continued to the Pequot Inn for dinner and drinks and an authentic 70's disco dance floor which lit up. While Fisher's Island may have a reputation as a quiet location, the local sailors kept our Members up all night!
A beautiful dawn greeted the early risers. Slowly, the rest of the crew stirred and both 12 Meters headed off for another perfect summer day. The next and final destination was Newport, RI.
While departing Fishers Island, Arabella fired a saluting cannon. This led to a few more salutes from the cannon (also celebrating it's 30th anniversary). Then the bottles of rose began to appear and soon the enthusiastic Members were raising all sails and firing the cannon in all directions! It was one of the best days ever.
There were so many spectacular images and memories created during this week. The entrance to Newport Harbor is just one as US 42 & US 46 glide past Castle Hill. This was a "trip for the ages." A special thanks go to Chris Richardson & Jenny Yang for taking such great pictures.
After the arrival, Arabella took the end dock at Newport Yachting Center and the 12 Meters tied up at Sail Newport in Fort Adams. Then most of the Members gathered at Castle Hill. As the sun set, a small sailboat motored along the shoreline and once broadside to Castle Hill, let loose with their signaling cannon. Our Club, being aptly prepared, returned the salute in grand style. The shocked maitre'd came running down saying "You can't do that here," which was universally acknowledged. The equally shocked sailboat, which started the saluting, circled around and let go another volley. Despite the cheering of patrons requesting to return fire, our Master at Arms showed great discretion and the night continued without further incident.
This of course led to oysters, drinks, dinner and great times by everyone. Thanks to the terrific teams of US 42 & US 46 who piloted their 12 Meters along this historic Goodwill Tour. The visibility and esteem of the 12 Meters we care for has never been higher.
Some of the US 42 sailors in their red uniforms gathered before the intramural race on Saturday in Newport Harbor.
Some of the US 46 sailors pose before going off to race against US 42.
The takeaway from this first Tour was that Arabella, combined with the two 12 Meters, is a world-class package which has the ability to share the history of our 12 Meters with other Clubs throughout Long Island Sound. The yacht clubs we visited this summer will be invited to New York Harbor next summer to race in front of the Statue of Liberty. And we may send Arabella and the 12 Meters on a second tour, visiting 5 more clubs. We look forward to the second edition of this Tour next summer.