All eyes may be on Bermuda early this summer for the 35th contesting of the America’s Cup, but come August, they’ll be on Newport, Rhode Island, where the inaugural J-Class World Championship will be held in the waters that once welcomed some of the most famous America’s Cup battles of all time.
For the better part of the 20th century, America’s Cup challengers and defenders took to the waters off Newport, seeking to muscle their way into history. From 1930 until 1983, spectators ashore looked out at yachts that would become legendary, with names including Vigilant, Defender, Enterprise and Ranger, all crafted from the drawing boards of iconic designers Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, William Starling Burgess and Olin Stephens.
This year, J-Class yachts old and new — including titans from the Golden Age of Sail — will compete in a regatta in Bermuda as part of the America’s Cup fun. Then a number of them are scheduled to sail north to Newport. From August 21-26, they will race in the inaugural J-Class World Championship.
Ranger is expected to be there, along with Velsheda, Hanuman, Lionheart, Topaz and Svea. The sight, viewed from on deck in the harbor or in Adirondack chairs ashore, should be nothing short of historically poignant and edge-of-your-seat exciting.
The New York Yacht Club is one of the event sponsors and, no doubt, will host viewing parties on its waterfront lawn at Harbour Court. Newport Shipyard says megayachts have been booking slips since spring 2016 to ensure their spots. Rooms can also be reserved at other waterfront venues (try the historic Castle Hill Inn, originally built in 1874, shown above).
Some yachts still have availability for spectator charters as well. They can be booked not only for the J-Class event but also for the few days or week that precede or follow the racing, with itineraries that may include everything from clambakes and offshore fishing to stops at Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
Might your charter yacht’s 35-foot Intrepid tender be faster than the J-Class yachts? Sure — plus you can say you shared the waters with some of the greatest sailing yachts of all time.