Tuesday, July 19, 2005

WoodenBoat Racing Non-Blog Information Site

This is a site for all wooden boat racers – dinghies, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, inshore and offshore sailboats, inshore and offshore powerboats. The races needn’t be ONLY wooden boats, but they must include wooden boats in their standings. If you would like results of your event posted here, please include all results, criteria for participation, and a brief explanation of how wooden boats remain competitive. We will only list the wooden boats in results. If you have an upcoming event that includes wooden boats, send specifics of that as well. Please email details to carl@woodenboat.com.

Racing is never an appropriate bellwether of market vitality, but there is so much happening in the wooden boat world that we’d like to include everything of interest.. and we will begin with this. Racing is a small measure of our market, but it’s a demonstrable and exciting one.

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  1. The Race of the Century?

1. THE RACE OF THE CENTURY? (July 19, 2005)

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

In WB #185 (July/August 2005), there is a feature article by Bill Mayher about Dennis Conner’s restoration of the memorable COTTON BLOSSOM II, a 1925 Johan Anker Q-Boat. Dennis’ restoration work and his own sailing pedigree indicate this will be a formidable combination once it returns to the racing circuit.

Looking for worthy competitors, Dennis dismissed national events. His aspirations are more focused on the rarified wooden boat races on the Med. Speaking of significant northeast US events, he is quoted as saying, “Who am I supposed to race against, some N[ew] Y[ork] 30?”

Furthermore, he states in the article: “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t they choose the best boat and ship it out and I’ll put up $100,000 and race them boat for boat?”

Meeting the Challenge

Yesterday, we received an answer to that challenge (see letter following), from the good people at the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) in Newport, Rhode Island – a place where Dennis earned victories and defeat as the skipper of 12-meters in the AMERICA’s Cup. No skipper fared so well (until Russell Coutts of modern era) as Dennis Conner; no US skipper had lost the AMERICA’s Cup until Dennis did to the Australians in 1983.

How Appropriate,

Dennis proposed the west coast; Terry Nathan at IYRS proposed a neutral site. We, instead, propose the natural symmetry of Newport, RI – the site of so many of Dennis’ stirring victories and one, defining, failure.

Newport, for 100+ years, was the home site for the AMERICA’s Cup. Detractors may say it’s become a condominium and retail town. We say this is an opportunity for the city to take steps to regain its logical pre-eminence as the sailing capital of the world.

Up the Ante and Make It Meaningful

And more than just a sailboat race. Terry Nathan, president of IYRS, suggests the pot should be increased – both parties should be recognized as representatives of non-profit organizations. The winner will receive 65% of the pot; the loser, 35%. Nobody loses in this event!

At Stake

This is more than a qualifier for the dignfied airs of the Med. It’s time North America had its own stage for the beauties of the seas to gather together. The northeast has its own series, as do the Great Lakes and the west coast. Let’s begin with this “race of the century” and gather our own momentum. Use the equalizing CRF rating rules, not the Med’s stupifying rating system.

Challenge Delivered

Terry Nathan’s challenge – on behalf of IYRS but also northeast sailors – was delivered to Dennis Conner’s camp yesterday. We all hope for the best, and will keep you informed on this site.

Here, Then, Yesterday's Challenge:

July 18, 2005

Carl Cramer


P.O. Box 78

Brooklin, Maine 04616

Dear Carl;

There he goes again, as Ronald Reagan would say. In the article about the restoration of Cotton Blossom II, a wonderfully restored Q-boat, Dennis Conner challenges the “East Coast” to bring out a New York 30 or any boat of our choosing to match race. (With that open-ended challenge, he’s lucky we won’t bring a catamaran!)

IYRS, and friends, accept this challenge, based on the following key points—and others to be negotiated:

  • Dennis must find an IYRS comparable 501 (c) 3 to sponsor his campaign;
  • Each party, as Dennis indicates must put up (at least) $100,000, to be held in escrow;
  • The winning 501 (c) 3 gets 65%; the loser 35%;
  • Match racing to be held in neutral water.

Dennis, we await your response.


Terry Nathan,




In A Related Matter,

WoodenBoat publisher Carl Cramer announced that WoodenBoat will present the winner with the "Race of the Century" Cup.

Are There Any Other Challengers?

If so, please contact Carl -- carl@woodenboat.com