Round the Waterfront

Big names and famous boats all get together to bring more sailors to the sport and celebrate sailing in Nantucket. From Gary Jobson's blog for August 23, 2007

Gary Jobson 368

I just spent four days as Honorary Chairman of Nantucket Race Week. This multifaceted event is held in boats ranging from 420s, Beetle Cats and Indians to IODs, 12-Meters and magnificent classics. Many of these beauties are in better shape today than they were when originally launched. The event takes place over eight days, and there is something in it for everyone. (For video of the event, click here.)

The Notables

At 7:30 a.m. on the morning of the 35th running of The Opera House Cup, I watched John Kerry snapping pictures of the polished fleet waiting for battle. Among the boats were Olin Stephen's first design, Dorade, America's Cup winners Weatherly and Columbia, and Herreshoff classics Rugosa and Ticonderoga. Sixty boats would compete on a 16-mile course on Nantucket Sound.

Sailing on Rugosa was CBS news anchor Katie Couric, who was all smiles anticipating her first race.

Earlier in the week Senator Ted Kennedy demonstrated his sailing prowess by winning the Classic Traditional 12-Meter Regatta.

The Thoughtful

Best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick ("Mayflower," "In the Heart of the Sea") observed that Nantucket is a very remote spot and was perfect for launching whaling expeditions hundreds of years ago. Today, he says Nantucket offers the best sailing on the East Coast. I have to agree.

Twelve sailing greats served as guest tacticians aboard the Nantucket Yacht Club's matched fleet of IODs. Brad Read guided Jim Bishop Jr. to victory in a six-race series. Celebrity sailors who were in attendance included Tom Whidden, Robbie Haines, Gary Weisman, Jim Allsopp and Peter Isler.

The Boats

The competition in the IOD class was very intense from my viewpoint as one of the guest tacticians. But I'm glad yacht design has advanced over the years. The IOD is a mighty uncomfortable boat to sail. All of us were sore after two days.

My vantage point for The Opera House Cup was 300 feet in the air in a helicopter recording the spectacle. The racing looked pretty tight on the starting line. There was a short windward leg followed by a 16-mile triangle. My award for the most interesting designs go to the sandbagger Bull and big Ticonderoga flying clouds of sail.

The Charity

In addition to celebrating Nantucket and sailing, one of the primary purposes of the four year old race week is to raise money for Nantucket Community Sailing. Over $200,000 was brought in to help young people gain access to the water. This year, Nantucket Community Sailing, the Great Harbor Yacht Club, and the Nantucket Yacht Club will help over 1,500 sailors learn the sport.