Newport, Rhode Island
Rob & Frances Lythgoe
Thu 2 Jul 2015 00:02
Newport is the sailing mecca of the USA and the home of the New York Yacht Club. Yes, you're quite right, New York is about 180 miles away, but the wealthy New Yorkers keep their summer 'cottages' and yachts in Newport, so why not have their sailing club there? Makes perfect sense really. We arrived just as the famous Newport trans-Atlantic race was about to start. It isn't easy trying to steer your boat safely through a crowd of yachts jockeying for position on the start line when you realise that these are the yachts that you were reading about in that months yachting magazine. For the sailors among you, we were along side 'Comanche' just as they unfurled their Code 0 in about three nano seconds; her bow visibly lifted out of the water and she took off like a rocket ship. Amazing.
In the early 1900s there was some serious money bouncing around this place, and we went to see the homes that the wealthy built as summer 'cottages', many of which are now open to the public. The first 'cottage' was The 'Breakers' built by the Vanderbilt family and cost $11,000,000 at the turn of the century; now that was when $11,000,000 was a lot of money. They used it for 6 weeks every summer whilst away from their mansion on 5th Avenue among other homes! We saw two others as well and it was certainly interesting, they are like small UK stately homes but with no class. I can't really put my finger on exactly why I say that, but Frances agrees so it must be true. One was called 'Marble House' and was used in the film The Great Gatsby. The area is very opulent with much history. The residential area near the port has many 200+ year old houses which is quite something over here.
The rally organiser had arranged a tour of a ship builders college in the town which was very interesting. The area has vast amounts of nautical heritage and history, and so also lots of very old dilapidated boats. These are gifted to the college who then take them apart and rebuild them in a very skillful manner, before selling them for what seems like huge sums to me, but I suppose they are in fact very old boats in 'as new' condition.
This is 'Camanche' from the stern. Rather broad in her beam I thought. She is designed to sail at 25 degrees of heal which leaves very little boat in the water, she sails on her edges, so she goes faster. She can heal to 20 degrees in only 8kts of wind, which is about when we are just thinking about getting the sails out!
Tourist shot at one of the Newport 'cottages'. The Breakers I think.
A couple more summer cottages just to give you a feel for Newport.
These are some of the traditional Newport Beetles awaiting restoration at the college
and here they are 'as new'.
Will she, wont she? She did.