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Documentary recounts classic yacht sinking

An original film that recounts the history, dramatic sinking and resurrection of a 107-year-old Herreshoff yacht debuts June 26 at the Jane Pickens Theater in Newport, R.I.

Launched in April 1905, Amorita, was one of just 18 identical NY-30 class racing yachts turned out by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol, R.I.
By 2007, she’d already celebrated her 100th birthday and was still sailing strong. While nearly all boats of her era eventually succumbed to neglect, rot, and destruction, Amorita’s story was replete with sailors who went to extraordinary lengths to care for and protect this beloved little yacht. Described by Olin Stephens as one of the “most perfect yacht designs,” she became an iconic fixture of Newport harbor, one of the most admired and photographed yachts in the world.

On July 7, 2007, Amorita was ready to race in the Robert H. Tiedemann Classic Yacht Regatta in Newport. While racing among her classic peers she was run down and sunk by a yacht nearly twice her size. The collision, which could have taken the lives of 10 sailors, sent shockwaves through the local, national and international sailing community. After a sickening crash, her deck submerged and vanished beneath the feet of her crew in mere seconds.

As news of the tragedy spread, it came to the attention of acclaimed French film director/producer Pierre Marcel. Marcel, is also an accomplished yachtsman, and while screening his award-winning film Taberly at the Newport Film Festival in 2009, he met and discussed the details of Amorita’s saga with owners Jed Pearsall and Bill Doyle.

After spending just one morning examining the wreckage and interviewing those closest to the accident, he was convinced that there was a deep emotional story that had to be told. The film would not just document the boatyard details of a restoration, but one that would tell the story of a truly unique vessel that had captured the hearts and imagination of sailors and non-sailors for more than a century.

Now, five years later, the film is complete. Most fittingly, it will be shown on the eve of the America’s Cup World Series in Newport, R.I. Amorita’s designer, Capt.

Nathanael Herreshoff had also designed five America’s Cup winning yachts from 1893-1920.

To complete the circle, proceeds from the event will benefit Sail Newport, whose mission is to promote and operate affordable public sailing and the Jane Pickens Theater restoration fund, another historic Newport icon.

The event will open with a preshow reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by screening at 7 p.m. (60 minutes) and post-show Q&A with director, Pierre Marcel.

Click here to purchase tickets.

Click here to view a film trailer.