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Photo By: George Bekris

The Museum of Yachting (MoY) 32nd Annual Classic Yacht Regatta, sponsored by Officine Panerai, was held September 3-4 in Newport, RI and wrapped up the final segment of the second-annual North American Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge circuit. Roiling teen-strength southerly breeze and mostly sunny skies prevailed for most of the weekend, creating dramatic excitement on the choppy waters of Narragansett Bay for the circuit’s finale regatta.

The Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta, in partnership with organizing authority Sail Newport, drew a fleet of 55 boats from throughout the region. Again this year, this turnout was recognized by all participants and sponsors to be an impressive display of commitment by the skippers and crews of the many classic and vintage boats that participated in nearly all of the three New England regattas which comprise the N.A. Circuit: Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta (August 12th -14th, Marblehead, MA), Opera House Cup (August 18th-21st, Nantucket, MA) and MoY Classic Yacht Regatta (September 2nd-4th, Newport, RI).

Saturday’s course at the MoY Classic Yacht Regatta was clockwise around Conanicut Island. A building breeze out of the south pushing back against the ebb tide made for choppy conditions at the bay’s entrance. Fifteen to 18 knots built to around 20 knots by the end of the race. The S- boats sailed a shorter course, taking them north of the bridge towards Prudence Island and back, allowing them to stay in the flatter water of the bay interior.

Sunday’s conditions saw the larger boats heading south to round R4 and then north toward Prudence Island before finishing between Goat and Rose islands. Conditions mirrored Saturday’s breeze, with strong southerly winds again in the 15- to 18-knot range.

After the exciting weekend of competitive sailing, the skippers and crewmembers returned to the popular Panerai Hospitality Lounge to share stories and await the winners to be called at the evening’s Prize-Giving ceremony and Awards Dinner. Ed Kane, Emeritus Member of the IYRSBoard of Trustees, thanked Panerai for their sixth year of sponsorship and recognized many of the individuals and sailing crews who are endemically dedicated to the regatta and the circuit. Each boat that was first-in-class in the following categories received an heirloom-quality Panerai Barometer which was presented by Panerai N.A. President Rafael Alvarez. The class winners were: Wild Horses, which won the Spirit of Tradition fleet; Valiant took first place in the classic non-spinnaker class; Belle, helmed by owner Joe Loughborough, won the 6-Meter division; Firefly captured the S-Boat class; and Columbia took first place in the 12-Meter class.

Gary Gregory, owner of Valiant, walked away with a Limited Edition Panerai timepiece as the overall winner of the MoY Classic Yacht Regatta.

Trevor Fetter’s Sparkman & Stephens yawl Black Watch received the trophy for the overall winner of the North American Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. The W-76 Wild Horses, owned by Donald Tofias, won the circuit’s Spirit-of-Tradition Division Award.

Summing up the spirit of the evening, Panerai N.A. President Rafael Alvarez invited Trisha Gallagher Boisvert, Executive Director of Sailing Heals, to the presentation platform to announce to the nearly 400 guests the news of Panerai’s founding sponsorship of Sailing Heals, a newly minted non-profit foundation for which the mission is to bring cancer patients and their caregivers, or anyone in need of a day of healing, out on the water in beautiful classic yachts. The charity tie-in was a welcome addition to the already very popular regatta and many people gathered immediately, offering their support in various meaningful ways.

The MoY 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, which led to the organization of this classic regatta to raise awareness for these endangered vessels. In keeping with event tradition, each year regatta organizers present the prestigious Tom Benson Restoration Award to the boat in the fleet determined to be the best restored yacht—based on degree of originality and quality of restoration—done within the past two years. The Herreshoff-designed Spartan, skippered by Vincent Paul and Charlie Ryan, captured this year’s award.

As has become Newport tradition, on Sunday morning many of the participating yachts proudly hoisted their yacht club pennants and Panerai battle flags while circling Newport’s inner harbor for the traditional “Classic Yacht Parade,” allowing the on-shore spectators and other sailing enthusiasts to view these beautiful vessels embarking upon their day with precision style and grace.

Following the resounding success of the 32nd Annual MoY Classic Regatta, sailors and sailing enthusiasts alike are eagerly anticipating next year’s 33rd annual MoY Classic Regatta, which is held every Labor Day weekend on Narragansett Bay in Newport.

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