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Dawn Riley, Larry Ellison Inducted Into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame

An America’s Cup Celebration and Coronation

The America’s Cup Hall of Fame ceremony is back in New York City, with the proceedings fittingly held at the New York Yacht Club as the Herreshoff Museum inducted Dawn Riley, Dirk Kramers and Larry Ellison.

Model Room of NYYC
The glorious Model Room of the New York Yacht Club.
© 2022 Herreshoff Museum / Hechler Photography

The event globetrotted to the Royal Yacht Squadron in 2018 and Flensburg, Germany, at the Yachting Heritage Center in 2019. COVID took hold in 2020 with a virtual event. The ceremony was resurrected in person during an America’s Cup window in Auckland last year at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

The model room in the clubhouse set the scene for an elegant evening. Everyone in attendance dressed to the nines for the formal occasion. Herreshoff president and executive director Bill Lynn hosted the induction ceremony, filling in for Gary Jobson, who was home with a severe bout of pneumonia.

The gala affair honored past inductees as well as the new ones. America’s Cup HoF chair Steve Tsuchiya handed out the beautifully crafted half-hulls to the recipients who were in attendance.

“The models that we presented to the inductees are the yacht Reliance,” said Tsuchiya. “They are based on Captain Nat Herreshoff’s actual half-hull he carved. The model was digitally scanned, and the model-maker built it using the 3-D scan.”

Steve Tsuchiya with half hull model
America’s Cup HoF Chairman Steven Tsuchiya preparing to hand out the trophy, which is a half-hull of the 1920 winner Reliance.
© 2022 Herreshoff Museum / Hechler Photography

Dawn Riley

Dawn Riley received an overdue coronation. The Grosse Pointe, Michigan, native has enjoyed a long and successful career as an America’s Cup competitor and manager.

Dawn Riley at the mic
Dawn Riley addressed the crowd during her induction into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.
© 2022 Molly Riley

Riley was one of the “tin full of tarts” (Bob Fisher’s words) aboard Maiden in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race. The all-women’s team shocked the sailing community by not only finishing but turning in a solid performance. They won two of the legs in their division, including the treacherous trek across the Southern Ocean.

In 1992, she joined Bill Koch’s America3 defense team. Three years later, she was the team captain of the all-women’s America’s Cup crew aboard Mighty Mary in 1995.

Mighty Mary crew
Some of the Mighty Mary crew and family. Front row: Suzy Leech, Katie Pettibone, Hannah Swett, Joan Touchette, Marci Porter Lucier. Back row: Sarah Bergeron, Merritt Palm Keffer, Dawn Riley, Linda Lindquist-Bishop, Kate Porter.
© 2022 Herreshoff Museum / Hechler Photography

When the Kiwis won the Cup that year, Riley organized the America True challenge named for the 30th Defense in 2000 in Auckland. The Bay Area-based team representing San Francisco Yacht Club advanced to the semi-final round in the Louis Vuitton Cup.

In 2007, Riley served as general manager of the K Challenge based out of France. Two years later, she was named Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year for winning major championships in both match racing and fleet racing. Since 2010, Riley has served as the executive director of Oakcliff Sailing Academy in Oyster Bay, NY.

Last year she took several of those students on the adventure of a lifetime aboard OCA 86 (ex-Windquest) as they shattered the Port Huron to Mackinac Race record by almost four hours.

Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison did not attend the gala. Sir Russell Coutts introduced him from afar via a prerecorded video.

Ellison began his foray into the Cup world with the purchase of Paul Cayard’s two IACC yachts in 2001.

Oracle went on to reach the LVC Finals in their first attempt before Alinghi ousted them and went on to capture the Auld Mug in 2003.

Ellison dramatically changed the landscape with a trimaran in 2010 when his team BMW Oracle went on to win the America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain, in a court-ordered Deed of Gift Match. That Match consisted of two multihulls for the first time, which led to the formation of the AC72 and AC45 catamarans for the 34th America’s Cup held on San Francisco Bay, creating a stadium sailing environment for the first time in history.

OTUSA lost the Cup in 2017 when they were out-teched by the Kiwis in Bermuda, which also pushed the Cup envelope when Ellison, with the Golden Gate Yacht Club as Defender/Trustee, took the event away from the club’s home waters to an offshore location in another country.

Ellison and Coutts went on to form SailGP, which is transforming sailing’s landscape in revolutionary ways while allowing America’s Cup sailors to earn a paycheck between Cup cycles.

Dirk Kramers

Dirk Kramers served as a designer and engineer for 11 America’s Cup campaigns, from the 12-Metre era to the foiling Cup Class creations of today, and earned six wins.

He was born in Hengelo, Netherlands. His Cup career began when he moved to Marblehead, Massachusetts, 45 years ago to work with Ted Hood on the rig for Ted Turner’s Courageous.

Crowd applauds Dirk Kramers
Surrounded by family and friends, Dirk Kramers accepts his induction into the AC HoF.
© 2022 Herreshoff Museum / Hechler Photography

“My sketchbooks are filled with hundreds of wacky ideas,” commented Kramers. “Most of them are rejected by the various teams. Some of them make it to the boat.” None of them make it to the press.

AC HoF Harvest Regatta

Part Two of the weekend’s Hall of Fame celebration was a field trip to Oakcliff Sailing Academy for the Harvest Regatta.

Dawn Riley is not only the executive director of Oakcliff, but also the Academy’s principal, counselor, sailing instructor and mama bear. She probably helps with homework too!

Powerboat with Dawn Riley at the helm
Dawn Riley taking a boatload of eager sailors out to the Match 40s on a beautiful day to race.
© 2022 Mark Reid

Many of us from the previous night’s event went sailing on Match 40s and Shield Class boats with Dawn’s wonderful students. We sailed out of Oyster Bay and into Long Island Sound, where we found perfect conditions at around 10 knots under bright blue skies.

Foredeck crew pulling lines
Oakcliff Academy shore team’s Mamadou Yade works the foredeck. He’s from West Africa. According to Riley, “He’s been working hard on shore and filing in on boats racing when he can. He’s a valuable part of our overall team and is getting better and better on board. Bonus is that my French is also getting better!”
© 2022 Mark Reid

The goal was to complete a lap, gather pumpkins for prizes, and win. I had wished for a spot on Dawn’s boat, and it was perfect. Onboard was her mom Prudence, with cousin Molly Riley, Mary Smith, one of her student coaches, and me.

“When you are at Oakcliff you get coached no matter what,” said Riley. The students in attendance are all from the Oyster Bay High School Sailing program at Oakcliff. They sail Match 40s and were part of two teams that they put together to sail in the Harvest Regatta. “Team Just Off the Boat collected four pumpkins, their maximum allotment in the NOR.”

We finished second, under a spinnaker start, and grabbed two pumpkins along the course.

Molly Riley with pumpkin
Molly Riley holds up one of our two prized pumpkin catches.
© 2022 Mark Reid

Dawn gave us a tour of the Oakcliff campus, and it was damn impressive. It is a perfect environment for the students who attend there and don’t expect to get star treatment. You will get schooled by a sailing legend who knows her shit and won’t sugarcoat it. Learn you will!

5 Comments

  1. Chuck Cunningham 3 months ago

    Congratulations to Sailing’s Gran Dame. I always follow Dawn on FB and any other venue she stars in. Her smile and spirit exemplify the essence of true legend of sailing.

    • Mark Reid 3 months ago

      Chuck, she is who she is. Nothing fake and no BS. Dawn exemplifies old school in the modern era. Oakcliff Sailing Academy is fortunate to have someone like Dawn in charge to work with those young sailor students.

  2. Pat McIntosh 3 months ago

    Thanks for the great article and fotos. How did you get to score the ride on her boat?

    • Mark Reid 3 months ago

      Pat, Hi. Thank you for your reply. It was a fun regatta!! I was asked to “make a wish” and I wanted to sail on Dawn’s boat!! Nothing like sailing with a legend and she doesn’t “sugarcoat” it. We all had jobs to do and Dawn (pmenty of teaching moments with her niece Molly on board to help) ensured we had a fun afternoon (with homework assignments!!)

  3. Cathi Swett 3 months ago

    It was a joy to watch Courageous being built at Minneford Shipyard on City Island. All the feral kids went on our bicycles to watch it being launched. It’s an interesting experience to see my sister Hannah in these photos.

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