Newport Kicks Off Giant Sailing Week

Melges 24s, Bacardi Newport Sailing Week presented by EFG Bank. Photo by Franco Pace.

New England Boating correspondent WilliamTuthill was walking the docks in Newport, Rhode Island, getting a feel for the huge sailing events taking place in the city this weekend and all next week. If you love sailing and want to get a glimpse of some of the world’s sleekest and most high-tech vessels, get to Newport now!

Photo by William Tuthill

“Newport harbor is absolutely buzzing with activity now. There are events on top of events. It is hard to keep track. You do not see this kind of thing everywhere you go.

The first batch of TransAtlantic sailors leaves on Saturday. The Bacardi Newport Sailing week starts tomorrow. Newport is filled with people from all over the world. This is truly an international community, tied to the sea.

To top it off there’s an air show going on, with everything from vintage aircraft to modern jets flying over Narragansett Bay.”

More About Bacardi Newport Sailing Week

Competitors from as far away as Hong Kong and the U.K. will be among the 60-plus boats that have been attracted to the “City by the Sea” for the inaugural Bacardi Newport Sailing Week presented by EFG Bank, which sets sail tomorrow on Narragansett Bay. Racing is scheduled for June 24-26, with the 5 participating 1-design classes—Star, Audi Melges 20, Melges 24, Viper 640 and J/80—sharing 1 course north of Newport’s Pell Bridge.

Photo by William Tuthill

For the 11 Melges 20s, this event will serve as the class’ East Coast Championship and will see a rematch between Mary Anne Ward (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), 2010 Audi Melges 20 National Champion Michael Kiss (Holland, Mich.) and Paul Reilly (Chicago, Ill.), who finished 1-2-3 at the 2011 Bacardi Miami Sailing Week presented by EFG Bank this past March.

“The top boats are here, so it will be a throw-down as usual,” observed Anthony Kotoun (Newport, R.I.) who is crewing on Cinghiale for skipper Rob Wilber (Stony Creek, Conn.). Kotoun’s success on the water—he learned to sail growing up in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., before making Newport his home—includes winning world and national championship titles and has led to regular demand for his expertise as both a coach and crew.

With 27 entries the 3-person Viper 640 sport boats will have the largest contingent in the regatta, which is also serving as both the Atlantic Coast Championship and the second leg of the class’ Pan American Championship. Chosen by Sailing World Magazine as Boat of the Year in 1997, the Viper 640 counts America’s Cup veterans and Olympians as regular competitors and is regarded as one of the most exciting classes on the water.

Photo by William Tuthill

Glyn Locke (Isle of Wight), who won the Viper 640 class at the 2011 Bacardi Miami Sailing Week presented by EFG Bank, Audi Melges 32 World Champion Pieter Taselaar (Scarsdale, N.Y.) and British Olympian Barry Parkin (Riverside, Conn.) are among the high-profile skippers competing in this weekend’s inaugural event.

Other notable sailors to watch include Snipe World Champion Tomas Hornos (Marblehead, Mass.) who will race in the Star class, and, sailing in the J/80 class, Tim Pitts who represented his native Virgin Islands in the 2004 Olympics and currently resides in Plymouth, Mass.

The regatta is organized to strike a balance between on-the-water racing and social activities, starting with “Color of Wind,” an exhibition by marine photographer Cory Silken which is on display through June 26 at 33 America’s Cup Avenue, the former location of The Gap clothing store. The exhibit will be open to the public, free of charge, from noon to 6:00 p.m. daily.

Jonathan Pogash, “The Cocktail Guru,” was on hand at the opening social event to create signature drinks for the regatta using Bacardi Rum, and with Verizon Wireless coming onboard as a preferred sponsor, the inaugural Bacardi Newport Sailing Week event Presented by EFG Bank shows all signs of becoming a hit with competitors.

For more information:

Bacardi Newport Sailing Week

Follow New England Boating:

Like New England Boating on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Receive our Daily RSS Feed.

Planning a trip to Rhode Island? Check out these locations:

Travel Rhode Island