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New London may host start of yacht club cruise

New London - The New London harbor is being considered as the starting point for the New York Yacht Club's annual cruise next year.

As many as 150 boats - from 110-foot sailboats to 125-foot powerboats - could be sitting off the shoreline during the last weekend of July for the summer cruise. The yacht club's annual event includes either a sail to Maine or a week of sailing events in the waters off southern New England. Next year, the group will be staying south.

"New London looks like the favored spot right now,'' said Rives Potts, a flag officer with the yacht club who owns Brewer Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook. "We try to go to places we haven't been before or go to up-and-coming places. We felt New London was a wonderful place. The Coast Guard is there and there's a lot of nautical history."

He said a preliminary decision has been made, but the details need to be worked out.

"New London has a pretty good chance,'' he said. "But it's very, very early in the planning stages."

John Johnson, a local businessman and member of the Yacht Club, was excited Monday about the possibility of more than 100 big boats sitting in the harbor.

"I'm not surprised they want to come here,'' he said. "We have a big, huge harbor. That's what makes us special.''

The yachts would assemble in the harbor July 29 and spend the evening either ashore or on board, Johnson said. On July 30, racing sailboats competing for the Astor Cup would head to Fishers Island Sound and return to New London Harbor that afternoon, he said. He anticipates that the Coast Guard Academy would host a dinner that night at the Officers Club and boats would depart Sunday morning for Block Island.

"The light is shining pretty bright on New London these days,'' he said. "Word travels quickly and people are hearing good things about the city."

Mayor Martin T. Olsen said planning will begin immediately and should include the newly appointed dock master, the harbor master and the New London Port Authority and Harbor Commission.

"It's pretty exciting stuff,'' Olsen said.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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