After two weekends of great weather, it is safe to say that spring has arrived on Manhasset Bay. Just as spring brings nature's new beginnings, so too, the waterfront has new beginnings of its own. We have a new Bay Constable, Mallory Nathan; new boats will be joining fleets around our bay; young sailors will soon begin to learn to sail in Optimists; and non-sailors who have never stepped into a boat may just choose this season to try out this terrific sport. If they do, they will be smitten, for there is absolutely nothing better than enjoying a cool summer breeze on a boat with family and friends out on Long Island Sound.
The prestigious New York City Powerboat Poker Run 2001 will take place on the Hudson River on Saturday, June 16 at noon. This annual boating extravaganza, filmed and broadcast internationally on Speedvision Network, will feature over 175 state of the art speedboats and cruisers. Included in this year's Poker Run are: Cigarette, Donzi, Wellcraft, SeaRay, Baja, Sonic, Armada, Velocity, Skater, Hustler, Sunseeker, Nor-Tech, Formula, Black Thunder, Outerlimits, Advantage and Eliminator. Those interested in participating can receive an early discount before May 1. For more information, call the National Powerboat Association at 203-532-1312 or go online at www.nationalpowerboat.com. The annual Manhasset Bay Gold Cup Poker Run on Long Island Sound is scheduled this year for Aug. 18.
The Congressional Cup, held this year on April 25-29 at the Long Beach YC (CA) is one of two ISAF grade 1 match racing regattas held in the United States. Bertrand Pace, ranked third in the International Sailing Federation's world match race ranking, is favored to win the event, based on his winning performance at the Steinlager Line 7 Cup against a similar field at Auckland, NZ. Two sailors ranked ahead of Pace, Dean Barker, Pace's boss at Team New Zealand and Denmark's Sten Mohr, are not competing in the regatta. Gavin Brady will call tactics for four-time winner Rod Davis as part of the entry from Italy's Prada Challenge. Brady, 27, won back-to-back Congressionals in 1996-97 and reached the finals of both recent Down Under events. Peter Gilmour, the '88 winner, will be in Long Beach, too. He now leads the OneWorld America's Cup Challenge from Seattle which will be represented by two boats sailed by Morgan Larson and 21-year-old James Spithill. Gilmour could be Spithill's tactician. Other entrants are Ken Read, helmsman for Team Dennis Conner; Peter Holmberg, '98-'99 winner now with Oracle Challenge: Andy green, Britain's GBR Challenge and Jesper Radich, Sweden and Sebastian Destremau, Australia, who have no America's Cup affiliations.
The other ISAF grade 1 match racing regatta in the US is the Knickerbocker Cup. Last year five of the entrants to this year's Congressional Cup competed in the 2000 Knickerboacker Cup: Ken Read, James Spithill, Peter Holmberg, Andy Green and Sebastien Destremau. The 2001 Knickerbocker Cup is planned this year for Aug. 27-Sept. 3, using the Labor Day weekend to extend the festivities.
The America's Cup Jubilee, scheduled to take place in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight on Aug. 19-25, is getting better each day. An unprecedented celebration of achievement in America's Cup sailing, the honor roll of winning skippers and helmsmen and winning boats will include every single America's Cup winning skipper or helmsman from 1970 onwards. Some of the skippers: Bill Ficker, Intrepid (1970); Ted Hood, Courageous (1974); Ted Turner, Courageous (1977); Dennis Conner, Freedom (1980) and Stars and Stripes (1987 and 1988); John Betrand, Australia II (1983); Bill Koch and Buddy Melges, America3 (1992); Russell Coutts, Team New Zealand (1995); Russell Coutts and Dean Barker, Team New Zealand (2000). Briggs Cunningham, the winning skipper in 1958 on board Columbia and Olin Stephens who helmed Ranger for some of the last America's Cup race in 1937, will also be present. Additionally, skippers from campaigns that were on the loosing side of several America's Cup Matches, will also be sailing Solent this summer - with Noel Robbins (Australia), Iain Murray (Kookaburra), Francesco de Angelis (Luna Rossa) and Paul Cayard (Il Moro and Young America), among those due to participate.
An incredible line-up of America's Cup Match boats will sail on the Solent during the jubilee. The list dates back to the J-Class boats. Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock V, and Endeavor will represent the J-Class; Sceptre, Columbia, Intrepid, Freedom, Australia II, and Kookaburra are some of the 12-Meters that sailed in Cup matches between 1958-87. America3, NZL-32, and Luna Rossa, International America's Cup Class boats will also compete during the jubilee.
With 200 boats and more than 2000 sailors, it could be said with some certainty that such a gathering of talent and achievement has never been assembled in one place at one time. To say that the "America's Cup Jubilee will be a significant milestone in the history of the America's Cup" is an understatement. It will be nothing short of spectacular, breath-taking, mind-boggling and awesome also come to mind.
Reminder: The Thirsty Thursday Organizational Meeting will take place today, Thursday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Port Washington YC. All interested sailors and crew who plan to compete on Thursday evenings are invited to attend this informational meeting.