A regatta and a day fit for a queen
New London - What better place to have the Queen's Cup regatta than here, at the mouth of the Thames River?
"It was beautiful sailing, about 15 to 18 knots of breeze on a good course, and a lot of fun," said Joe Hoopes from the bow of his 75-foot yacht, dubbed Palawan, after the day's racing Saturday.
"It's a very significant race," he said. "If you win the Queen's Cup, you've done very well."
The Palawan took second in its class during the regatta, and Hoopes had no complaints as he and his crew enjoyed the beautiful evening from the docks of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
New London is the first stop for the 100 or so boats sailing with the New York Yacht Club's 155th annual cruise, which is to end Aug. 6 in Newport, R.I.
It was the first time in 43 years that the yacht club has come to New London for this event, said John Johnson, a local club member and chairman of the New London-based Thames America's Cup Committee Inc.
"They were all very excited to be here because they hadn't been here in so long and lots has changed since they were last here," Johnson said.
About 60 boats were sailing in the Queen's Cup race, on Long Island Sound, while the other 40 were "tenders," which doesn't necessarily mean smaller.
Jeff Jacobson is captaining the Innisfall, a 91-foot Mathis Trumpy, that serves as the tender boat for the Blue Yankee, the yacht owned by the club's commodore, Robert C. Towse Jr.
The Innisfall, a leisure boat built in 1939, tends to the yacht owner and his crew's every need. They visit the boat for breakfast, hors d'oeuvres and dinner, Jacobson said, and the crew makes sure the commodore, who acts as the club's leader and president, is comfortable and happy.
Members of the Thames America's Cup Committee hoped the visitors were happy, too, as they watched the racing action from a 30-foot Hinckley picnic boat.
"We've been planning this for probably four months," the group's secretary, Frank McLaughlin, said as crew members of the racing yachts sat on the edges on their vessels to counterbalance the wind, maneuvering the course on an unsettled sea.
As committee member Tony Silvestre captained the viewing boat, McLaughlin discussed the event and its potential impact on New London as a destination for boaters.
While the committee's name implies a desire to host the America's Cup event, which likely won't happen, McLaughlin said that committee's mission is really "to promote the Thames River area as a venue for yacht racing events."
Asked if the committee is achieving its goal, McLaughlin pointed to the brilliant sails that filled the skyline.
"That's been the mission from the beginning, when we formed the committee more than a year ago," he said as the boats whizzed by on a strong wind. "This event with the New York Yacht Club is a great example of it."
With the large number of boats on the cruise and because yachts require a large crew, McLaughlin estimated that 600 people visited New London with the event this weekend. The group leaves Sunday morning, and there will be a "parade of sail" down the Thames River, McGlaughlin said, as the group heads for its next stop on Block Island.
Johnson said he hopes the city left a positive impression on the club.
"In the towns where they traditionally start the event, like Mystic or Stonington, it's a more common event, and I think the club really appreciated the city doing everything we did because they don't necessarily get that kind of reception elsewhere," Johnson said.
"The waterfront's our greatest asset," he said, "and we need to utilize it and get more nautical events in the harbor."
MOST VIEWED MEDIA
MOST DISCUSSED STORIES