Rivalry heats up for Sailing Hall of Fame

Published on October 23rd, 2017

The effort by the National Sailing Hall of Fame for opening a facility to display and celebrate the history of the sport has been long on dream but short on fulfillment. The site is secured in Annapolis, MD. The money for the building is not.

With fear of local government support slipping, a Plan B is gaining traction in Newport, RI. Understandably, this would be a crushing blow to Annapolitans, as Craig Ligibel shares in this letter to the Capital Gazette.

The National Sailing Hall of Fame sails off to Newport, Rhode Island — yikes. What an unsailorish thought to contemplate.

There has always been a rivalry between the two East Coast sailing capitals. One-upmanship is the norm. But for Annapolis to lose the NSHOF to our archrival would be akin to swamping a sailboat on the final tack of the Governor’s Cup.

Since its inception, the NSHOF has struggled with its identity locally. Absent a suitable venue, the “hall of fame” component of the organization’s charge has been largely absent.

However, the origination’s board of directors and executive director have staked out a much more meaningful role within the Annapolis sailing community: that of sponsoring or hosting a veritable fleet of classic sailing vessels, as well as working hard to make sure that the sport of sailing is accessible to a wide range of potential sailors across the socioeconomic spectrum.

I know: There’s the little thing about money. Nine-and-a-half million dollars isn’t chump change, even for the well-heeled sailing community. And 13 years is a long time to chase a goal.

But the lure of a ready-made 11,000-square-foot facility on Newport’s waterfront may be too much to ignore.

I challenge the powers that be of our fair city to put their heads together and figure out how to help the NSHOF stay in Annapolis. They should dream big. Maybe $9.5 million isn’t nearly enough to put together a world-class sailing experience on the waterfront.

The viability of a well-conceived sailing attraction on our waterfront is certainly as worthwhile as a Ferris wheel. Come to think of it, why not kill two birds with one stone: Give Market House to the NSHOF.

Now that’s an idea to put wind in your sails.

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