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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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 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.
“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!
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.
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.
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!