Vision & Spirit
Classic yacht racing is experiencing a renaissance led in part by grand regattas in the Mediterranean. New York Harbor is experiencing a renaissance led in part by Dennis Connerís North Cove.
To share the beauty of classic sailing with more people, all classic yachts are encouraged to come to Manhattan to participate in New York Classic Week. This regatta is run by sailors for sailors. The spirit of the regatta is to build camaraderie among sailors who enjoy the spirit of classic racing. It is also to thank the owners and sailors who support classic sailing and preserve these historic vessels. At the same time, an eye will be kept on the seawall in the hope of inspiring new people to develop a passion for sailing and classic yachting.
The New York Harbor Sailing Foundation is providing the overall organization for New York Classic Week. The Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Itís mission is to foster and promote amateur sailing of national and international importance in New York Harbor.
How this Regatta Came to Be
by Commodore Michael W. Fortenbaugh
In September 2006, Lars Forsberg invited me aboard Black Watch which was docked at North Cove. It was a typical fall day, refreshing but with a slight sprinkle in the breeze. The beauty of the yacht, the varnish, the cabinetry, the classic spirit - it was one of those "wow" moments.
As I sat there below decks, Lars began spinning the dream of a great classic regatta in New York City.
I have always loved classic yachts. When growing up at the Jersey shore, I remember some perfect late afternoons sitting on the aft deck of a 1929 commuter called "Gatsby." A few years earlier, I had taken over responsibility for our family's wooden G-sloop. And when our sailing club was founded, our first committee boat was a 48-foot classic powerboat. More recently, I have been been privileged to sail aboard my father's wooden A-Cat and now restore two G-Sloops.
For 20 years, we have been building sailing in New York Harbor. We have begun to share this great sport with people who live and work in Manhattan. We've had a great run and have been fortunate.
Early in our club's history, H.S.H. Albert de Monaco telephoned about the first International Yacht Club Challenge. He endorsed the principles of international goodwill through friendly competition. Later that year I had the fortune of meeting Bernard d'Alessandri while sailing the Tour de France a la Voile. Prince Albert is President of Yacht Club de Monaco and Bernard is the Secretary General.
Seeing what is going on in Monaco has always provided inspiration. From our first trip in 1991, to seeing their club's acquisition of Tuiga in 1994, to the development of Monaco Classic Week, I have watched and dreamed of bringing this style and grandeur to New York City.
In 1999, our club got its first taste of the classic spirit. Peter Kellogg had built two sandbagger replicas. These were a famous type of boat which used to race in New York Harbor in the mid-1800s. They sailed at our club for the season. I always hoped this was a taste of the future.
So when Lars proposed working together to create a great classic regatta in New York City, it was a dream come true.
After 9/11, our sailing club has also been fortunate. We survived the great upheaval and rebounded quickly. Then in 2005, I was put in charge of the management of North Cove along with my partner and America's most famous sailor, Dennis Conner. Together, we set about to make North Cove a great waterfront stage. Beautiful yachts started to return and in 2006, we brought both the Volvo Ocean Race and the Clipper Challenge to North Cove.
Photo: Dennis Conner and Commodore Fortenbaugh sharing dinner at Ruth Chris' Steak House in Manhattan while they discuss the future of New York Harbor and the great role which North Cove can play.
Thanks to the leadership of North Cove, New York is becoming a sailing town once again. People are starting to remember that our harbor used to be the sailing capital of our country in the 1800s. The first America's Cup races were held here. It was not until the harbor was overrun by industry and pollution that sailing disappeared.
New York Harbor is finally undergoing a recreational renaissance. Two decades ago when our club was founded, there was almost no sailing in the harbor. Today more and more sailors are discovering that this harbor is a great place to sail and the city a great place to visit. Where else can you sail by the Statue of Liberty, be inspired by the Skyline of Manhattan, then head off for a great steak dinner followed by nightlife, glamour and energy?
The center of this renaissance is Dennis Conner's North Cove. This mega-yacht marina is located on the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan's Battery Park City. North Cove is the crown jewel of the waterfront and often referred to as "Monaco on the Hudson."
Please bring your classic yacht to North Cove. North Cove is part of a great residential community filled with families and kids of all ages. Thousands of people will see your yacht every day. Your yacht will inspire new people about the beauty of sailing.
This is why a great classic regatta can play a significant role in the on-going renaissance of New York Harbor.
If you have followed the growth of classic yacht racing in Europe, you will understand the dream. Events like "Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez," "Monaco Classic Week" and "Regates Royales" capture our imagination. We hope to develop a race like this in New York City.
Photo: Classic yacht racing in the Mediterranean.
People love to see classic yachts. In our fast-paced age of internet, email and Skpe, people enjoy the beauty, elegance and spirit of tradition.
This gathering of great classics will not just be a regatta, but also a boat show! Sailing enthusiasts from around the city will have an opportunity to come down to North Cove and see these beautiful sailing machines.
In creating the first New York Classic Week, I found great truth and inspiration in two quotes from a magazine published by Yacht Club de Monaco.
The first is by H.S.H. Prince Albert de Monaco, President of Yacht Club de Monaco. It reads:
"..the Yacht Cub de Monaco has made it its mission to promote a certain ethics and philosophy within a club of owners. To make owners aware of the importance of safeguarding the heritage of which they are guardians and guarantors, to share experiences and to compare points of view, these are the missions of 'La Belle Classe' club.
"More than just a regulation based on a rating calculation which is indispensable to the smooth running of the regattas, to be a member of the 'La Belle Classe' club is a real commitment. It is to subscribe through the 'La Belle Classe' Charter to values attached to notions of courtesy, modesty and sportsmanship, with respect to naval etiquette and the environment.
"For, if to own a traditional yacht is a real privilege, it is above all a duty, which is to be able to share a moment of her history, to accompany her on one stage of her life's long journey and to pass her on intact to future generations. Owners have a role to play in the survival of the unique qualities of these yachts which are living witnesses of our maritime history."
The second is by Bernard d'Alessandri, Secretary General of Yacht Club de Monaco. It reads:
"The world of traditional yachting is like a family, with its own customs and history. Each reunion is a great party, every absence is noticed and sadly missed, and each newcomer is welcomed with joy. Everyone has a role to play, the oldest pass their heritage to the youngest that they too may learn to observe the etiquette and behave in an appropriate manner. It is up to us to preserve and maintain this spirit and its values, and to pass it on from generation to generation to ensure that it is never forgotten."
Photo: Bernard d'Alessandri of Yacht Club de Monaco lends Commodore Fortenbaugh a saber to open a magnum of Moet Champagne at the start of the 2007 Primo Cup. When the Secretary General and Commodore first met in 1988, they wagered a bottle of champagne per race between Yacht Club de Monaco and Manhattan Sailing Club in the Tour de France a la Voile.
In New York City, we are just creating the very first of what we hope will become a tradition. New York Classic Week has great potential. But we as organizers are just starting to learn. We appreciate the support and feedback from everyone who can help. Together, we hope to develop an event of lasting beauty and of great contribution to our passion.
New York Classic Week will begin with these three guiding philosophies:
1) The Spirit of Tradition - New York Classic Week is designed to foster and promote the Spirit of Tradition. The people who support and participate in classic racing have unique qualities. These are universal ideals which motivate the classic enthusiast in the United States as well as around the world. The owners and sailors follow in a long line of illustrious sailors. Together, our mission is to preserve and improve this sailing heritage. We need to work together to build communication and a sense of camaraderie and fun so that participation in classic sailing increases. We have the important duty of passing on the Spirit of Tradition to the next generation of sailors.
2) Spirit of Sailing - New York Classic Week is created by sailors for sailors. Those who have sat on the weather rail or behind the wheel of a yacht which is charging along in 20 knots of breeze have insights into the beauty and passion of this sport. We wish to create an event which offers the maximum amount of sailing opportunities combined with sailing-related social events.
3) Spirit of the City - The community surrounding North Cove is a special place. North Cove lifts the spirits and inspires the public with the beauty of boating. Bringing classic yachts to North Cove and having them dress ship will be a memorable sight. At the same time, North Cove is an ambassador for the city. Our goal is to welcome yachts and show them the best New York City has to offer. North Cove will be your home. At the end of your visit, we hope you will sail away with great memories.
Photo: While sailing in the 2007 Primo Cup, Yacht Club de Monaco graciously arranged for the beautiful classic yacht "Seaway" to serve as flagship for the Manhattan Sailing Club team. During this beautiful regatta, the "Spirit of Seaway" was very much in evidence and helped inspire the creation of the first New York Classic Week.