Fifty-three yachts gathered in Newport on July 18 to kick off the New York Yacht Club’s (NYYC) sixth biennial Race Week presented by Rolex. The event gathered some of the world’s most notable classic yachts and their owners for memorable racing in Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound. It was also an opportunity to honor and celebrate Olin Stephens’ birthday. The legendary American yacht designer of Sparkman & Stephens fame turned 100 years old this past April.
Stephens watched as several of his classic designs competed during the three-day event. Among the S&S classics were the 1931 Newport to Plymouth trans-Atlantic race winner, Dorade, the 52-foot fast cruiser that Stephens designed at the age of 21 and is now owned by Edgar Cato of Charlotte, N.C.; Bolero, the sleek 73-footer built in 1948 for NYYC Vice Commodore John Nicholas Brown (1952-1954) and now owned by Edward Kane of Concord, Mass.; and Sonny a cutter sloop built in 1935 and now owned by Joe Dockery of Newport, R.I./Greenwich, Conn.
Dockery, who served as chair for the classics event said, “Every yacht has a unique story behind it, it seems and Olin, of course, has a story for every one of his designs.” Dockery noted that when Dorade was launched in 1931 it sparked a revolution in sailboat design. “It’s very special and quite an honor to be chosen to chair an event that celebrates his life,” Dockery said. Surrounded by his friends, and even an old crewmate or two, he raised a glass and cut a Bolero-themed birthday cake.
Other S&S designs that competed in the event were Black Watch, sailed by Trevor Fetter of Dallas, Texas; Palawan, sailed by G. Scott Gazelle of Hingham, Mass.; Puffin II, sailed by James Koss of Point Richmond, Calif.; and the 6-meter Jill, sailed by Martha Coolidge of Camden, Maine. Out of 14 12-meters competing, eight were S&S designs, including two boats that twice were America’s Cup winners: Intrepid/USA 22 (1974, 1977), sailed by Jack Curtin of New York City and Courageous/USA 26 (1967, 1970), sailed by Stephen Glascock of Middletown, R.I.; two one-time America’s Cup winners Columbia/USA 16 (1958), sailed by Alain Hanover of Newport, R.I. and Freedom/USA 30 (1980), sailed by Ernest Jacquet of Boston, Mass.; three America’s Cup defender series participants, Enterprise/USA 27 (1977), sailed by Jan Slee of Newport, R.I., America II/USA 46 (1987), sailed by Alfred Van Liew of Middletown, R.I., and Valiant/USA 24 (1970, 1974) sailed by Michael Fortenbaugh of New York City and Gary Gregory of Marblehead, Mass. Northern Light/USA 14 was sailed by Elizabeth Tiedemann of Newport, R.I.