Supporting the past to secure the future
Published on October 27th, 2021
What keeps competitive sailing of interest is less about its present than its past, with that connection to history as motivation for involvement. When it comes to history, no event matches the oldest trophy in international sport – America’s Cup.
Predating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years, interest in the America’s Cup is supported by the vessels that fought for the trophy, many of which continue to sail today. Whether it be the replicas of America, or the J Class, 12 Metre, and IACC yachts, they contribute to the continuation of this challenge event.
Prominent among that tribe is perhaps America’s most famous yacht – Stars & Stripes 87.
Stars & Stripes 87, the winner of the 1987 America’s Cup Team led by Dennis Conner who reclaimed the Cup for America from Australia, is being restored to its original beauty to begin retelling her story and inspiring future generations of sailors.
The three-stage project pays homage to the sailing community, new and old, and will ultimately result in a floating, interactive museum and academy that will help to share and retell one of America’s greatest moments in sailing.
The 12 Metre sustained significant damage in 2017 during Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean, after which New York Harbor Sailing Foundation acquired her on behalf of the United States of America with a vision of uniting our nation to restore it to its true beauty.
In the first stage of the project, with the support of three original Founding Partners – Gowrie Group, Mount Gay Rum, and the American Sailing Association – New York Harbor Sailing Foundation has raised the needed $120,000 to transport the boat back to America to begin repairs.
In the current second stage of the project, sailors across the country, yacht clubs and sailing organizations, and the original crew and supporters from the 1987 Cup, are being invited to learn about this exciting initiative and to contribute to the restoration and new future of Stars & Stripes.
The one-million-dollar restoration project of Stars & Stripes is focused on bringing the sailing community together and giving back to the growth of the sport. Once finished, Stars & Stripes will be given a new lease on life, where it will be reimagined as a floating museum and academy, visiting up to five yacht clubs and sailing organizations every year.
It will be a chance for seasoned sailors to reminisce about one of America’s finest moments in sailing history, and for youth sailors and new sailors to learn more about the history of sailing and the America’s Cup. When not on tour, Stars & Stripes will live in New York Harbor and will be welcoming visitors.
Carter Gowrie, Managing Director & Founder of Gowrie Group, sees this project as an extension of his company’s history.
“Over our nearly 50-year history, Gowrie Group has had the privilege of providing risk management and insurance solutions for the New York Yacht Club America’s Cup syndicate multiple times, including the Stars & Stripes team that won the Cup in 1987!” said Gowrie.
“As the insurer of the majority of yacht clubs in the US, we feel a deep connection to our nation’s sailing history, sailing organizations, and are honored to support this important restoration and outreach initiative as a Founding Corporate Sponsor.”
Raphael Grisoni, Mount Gay Managing Director, can’t wait to set foot on board when restoration is complete. “With over four decades of commitment to the growth of the sailing community, it was a given Mount Gay would support the restoration of Stars & Stripes, and the transmission to new generations of the values of sailing: determination, collective achievement, respect, camaraderie.”
American Sailing Association, in which its skill certification standards are delivered through a network of international network of sailing schools, sees this project as an opportunity to deliver an important message. “To be part of the team that will revive America’s winning spirit is a real thrill for our organization,” said ASA Chairman Lenny Shabes.
Michael Fortenbaugh, Manhattan Yacht Club Commodore, reports the project has been enthusiastically received throughout the sailing community, but notes how this is the time for enthusiasts to get involved. “I invite everyone who has been inspired by America’s Cup to pledge their donation to the future of Stars & Stripes,” said Fortenbaugh.
Stars & Stripes will be restored to its original condition under the coordination and governance of New York Harbor Sailing Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity.