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Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta

by Cynthia Goss on 1 Sep 2011
31st Annual Classic Yacht Regatta on a blustery day. George Bekris © http://www.georgebekris.com
The 32nd annual Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta is all set to take place in Newport over Labor Day weekend. Hurricane Irene’s visit to Rhode Island did not dampen the spirits of classic-boat owners and crews planning to participate in the event sponsored by Panerai. The regatta takes place over the Labor Day weekend, September 2-4, and includes two days of racing organized by Sail Newport.

This annual event also stands as the third and final event in the North American Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge; in addition to the Classic Yacht Regatta, this three-event circuit includes the Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta, held in Marblehead, Massachusetts (August 12-14), and the Opera House Cup Regatta, held in Nantucket (August 18-21). Final awards for both the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta and the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge will be presented in a prize-giving ceremony that takes place Sunday evening, September 4, at the Museum of Yachting. This year’s regatta includes more opportunities for the entire community to both catch a glimpse of the fleet and meet competing crews.

The race headquarters will be at the waterfront home of the Museum of Yachting at Fort Adams State Park. On Friday, September 2, Panerai will kick off the weekend with a festive opening- night celebration at the Museum of Yachting’s waterfront home at Fort Adams State Park. Sail Newport will run two days of racing on Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4, and social festivities will follow each day of racing.

The event’s Classic Yacht Parade, which draws classic-boat enthusiasts to the Newport waterfront to see the fleet, takes place Sunday, beginning at 10:30 am; the fleet will trace a course around the harbor, ending at regatta headquarters at the Museum of Yachting. Final awards for both the Classic Yacht Regatta and the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge will be presented in a prize-giving ceremony that takes place Sunday evening, September 4, at the Museum of Yachting.

This annual event draws a fleet that stands as a time capsule of classic design—from small traditional one-designs to large, majestic yachts built over a century ago. Among the notable classics expected on the starting line are: the R-Class sloop Ruweida V, relaunched in June 2011 after being restored by IYRS students; NY 30 Amorita; NY 50 Spartan, recently restored by McClave, Philbrick and Giblin; 6-meters and S-boats; well-known Sparkman and Stephens designs such the 1935-launched Sonny and the 1929 yawl Dorade; and 12-Meters Columbia, Northern Light, and Valiant. A list of entries can be found at the website of the Museum of Yachting.

This year’s regatta includes more opportunities for the local community to both catch a glimpse of the fleet and meet competing crews. In addition to Sunday morning’s Classic Yacht Parade, which gives Newport residents and visitors an opportunity to see the fleet as it traces a route around the harbor perimeter, title sponsor Panerai has initiated a new event tradition called 'Cappuccino with the Captains.'

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, from 8:30 to 9:30 am at the Museum of Yachting, local sailing enthusiasts will have an opportunity to meet and greet the owners, skippers, and crews of competing boats. This hour-long meet and greet gives the local community an inside look at the dedication, commitment, and tireless effort of those who participate in events such as the Classic Yacht Regatta and the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge.


The Classic Yacht Regatta was first held in 1980, when a group of New England yachtsmen looked around Newport harbor and saw classic yachts that were once glorious decaying before their eyes. The newly formed Museum of Yachting organized the first regatta to raise awareness for these endangered vessels. Today, with sponsorship from Officine Panerai, this annual Newport regatta is firmly established as a weekend of camaraderie and competition that draws meticulously restored classics and spirit-of-tradition yachts.

The Classic Yacht Regatta is hosted by the Museum of Yachting. This Newport museum preserves the culture, history and heritage of yachting through its exhibits, events, and educational programming. In 2007, the Museum converged with the International Yacht Restoration School, located across Newport Harbor.

Together, these two organizations create a rich educational living heritage experience by coordinating exhibits, events, and restoration projects. Organizing authority Sail Newport was founded in 1983 after the loss of the America’s Cup catalyzed the sailing community to attract more sailing events to Newport. Sail Newport is today a thriving sailing center located in Fort Adams State Park that offers a wide variety of sailing programs and hosts many local, regional, national, and world-class sailing events.

Title sponsor Panerai is joined this year by event sponsors Boothbay Harbor Shipyard and The Hilton Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Officine Panerai was founded in Florence in 1860 as a watchmaker’s shop, workshop, and school and was for many years the official supplier of precision instruments for the Italian Navy, mostly for the underwater special corps. The projects developed by the company at the time, including the Luminor and Radiomir watch, were covered by military secret until 1997, when the brand was purchased by the Richemont Group and launched on the international market.

Officine Panerai is today the only Italian fine-watch making company developing and producing its own calibres and watches—a blend of Italian history and design with Swiss craftsmanship—in its own manufacture in Neuchatel, in Switzerland. Panerai watches are distributed worldwide through an exclusive network and in the Panerai boutiques in Florence, Milan, Portofino, Geneva, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, Beverly Hills, New York City, Boca Raton, Buenos Aires, Beirut, Doha, Dubai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo. To learn more, visit www.panerai.com.

Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge website

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