Ida Lewis Yacht Club has received US Sailing’s prestigious St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy for excellence in race management at last summer’s 2019 12 Metre World Championship. The event, hosted by Ida Lewis and organized by the International Twelve Metre Association (ITMA) Americas Fleet, attracted 22 historic 12 Metres from six countries, the largest fleet to ever gather in North America. Ida Lewis Yacht Club has the distinction of being the first yacht club on Narragansett Bay selected for this honor in the 33+ year history of the award. US Sailing, the sport’s national governing body, awards the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy annually to one yacht club, giving much consideration to the input of competitors in its selection decision.
“The regatta was challenging to organize and execute, yet Ida Lewis accomplished it with aplomb,” submitted one competitor with a nod toward three years of organization leading up to it. “Their handling of logistics before, during, and after the event was outstanding. A fleet of nearly two dozen twelves sailed safely and competitively – a credit to the Race Committee and the competitors, but especially to the host, Ida Lewis.”
The race committee team, led by Principal Race Officer Mark Foster, delivered a total of 45 fair and safe races for five classes in varying conditions on Rhode Island Sound. The committee hit their target times for each race, which included windward-leeward courses with offset and gate marks, and a distance race back into the harbor.
US Sailing presented the Trophy on February 6 aboard the USS Midway in San Diego at an Awards Night Celebration held during its 2020 Sailing Leadership Forum. Accepting on behalf of Ida Lewis Yacht Club were Foster, from Texas, as well as Race Chairman Peter Gerard, Race Committee Chair Bill O’Hanley and Race Committee members Dick Gumpert and Robbie Benjamin, all from Newport and Middletown, Rhode Island. (Not present were Event Co-Chairs Jane Beezer and Ted Winston, also from Rhode Island, who oversaw the coordination of more than 100 event volunteers.)
Gerard, O’Hanley, Ida Lewis Yacht Club Commodore Dan Faria and the others were recognized by the competitors for their leadership. Wrote one skipper: “The team deserves gold medals for what they have done for the sport of sailing. I’ve been to many events, but this left me with such a great feeling.”
Gerard estimates that the economic impact of the event on Newport and surrounding areas was well over $2 million. “In addition to the regatta’s six-figure event budget, much of which was expended locally, there were over 500 competitors who came with support staff and families. They rented hotel rooms and/or houses and purchased meals, supplies and marine services locally.”
Ida Lewis Yacht Club was founded in 1928. Its unique seasonal clubhouse, originally a working lighthouse tended by its namesake and the country’s first female light keeper, is situated on Lime Rock in the heart of Newport Harbor.