Schooners Race in New York

A crowd of schooner yachts began to frequent New York waters annually, beginning in 1967.

It had been the rule for yea rs rhat sailing vessels mighr carry sail in New York H arbor only if rhey had rheir engines running as well.

The vagaries of rhe wind seemed to rhe authorities to carry too great a risk of collision to be permitted.

But we in rhe struggling crew ar the justfounded South Street Seaport Museum felt we had to make some notable mark in city waters to make the titans of Wall Street aware of the fledgling museum on their doorstep.

Accordingly we schedul ed the first Schooner Race for the Mayor’s C up, easily securing the sponsorship of Mayor Lindsay, a considerable sailor himself. Getting the US Coast Guard to bend the rules was another matter.

Fortunately, F. Briggs Dalzell, Fleet Captain of the New York Yacht Club, stepped forward wirh his customary aplomb and qui etly arra nged thi ngs wirh rh e Captain of rh e Porr. “You can sa il! ” we were cold.

And so, on Saturday morning, 21 Ocrober, rhe quier harbor was alive wirh c reaking gaffs and cheerin g crews as sail again took over rh e harbor for a day.

Ir was slow go ing ar firsr, bur rhe breeze picked up for a spectacul ar finish, wirh rhe famous sraysa il schoo ner Nina carrying all befo re her wirh spinnaker and golliwobbler flying.

We aboard Athena finished fifth, well behind Bill Werrenbaker’s slippery Tyehee, whichwon the traditional class.

We gave a prize to the cook aboard the lasr boar to finishar a rolli cking dinner ashore (arrire: black rie and sneakers). The prize?

A borde ofBeefearer gin and a box of com fl akes-the legendary breakfast of Commodore De Coursey Fales,

the great sailor who had raught Nina her winning ways, where o thers befo re him had fa iled.

And yes, rh e race did pur Sourh Sn eer on rhe map, as nothing else had.

A few years lare r rhe museum acquired irs own schoo ners, rhe woode n G loucesrerman Lettie G. Howard of 1893 and rhe iron cargo schooner Pioneer of 1885,

which course the warers of New York harbor an d neighboring sounds, rivers and seas today, while the Mayor’s Cup Raceconrinueswirh vessels of differenr rigs-srill including schooners.

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