26 July 2009

America's Cup '62 ~ "Weatherly" vs. "Gretel"

A long time ago, September, 1962, in what now feels like another era, my family attended an America’s Cup Regatta race on Narragansett Bay, off Newport, RI. I was 11. We were on “R.I.P” our family cruiser. It was a Huckins, descendant of WWII PT-boats. It had twin diesel engines and balls of power.
There were hundreds of vessels, all shapes and sizes, everyone bobbing, straining for binocular glimpses of Weatherly and the Aussie’s Gretel, all while trying to stay out of each others way.

Suddenly, to me, a U.S. Navy ship, might as well have been a destroyer, was bearing down on us, sailors lining the rail, watching the spectacle and the race, me bug-eyed, and the ship blasting a verbal shot across our bow, “Give way, Give way.”

I was sitting on R.I.P's bow. The destroyer, closing on us, was grey-metal and massive.

My father screamed a “We don’t move! You move!” to the delight of all sailors cheering my father's defiance.

I don't know who won the race. Gretel won once in a rough and windy sea. Weatherely, the last wooden yacht used in the Cup's defense, took four to win the Cup. The next summer my father ran R.I.P aground in the Connecticut River and she sank.

No comments:

Post a Comment