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News notes - New England

‘Launch Day’ at Newport’s IYRS

The InternationalYachtRestorationSchool’s traditional Launch Day ceremony, which also marks graduation day, has become a unique waterfront event for the Newport community.

On Launch Day IYRS students launch and sail the boats they spent the academic year restoring inside Restoration Hall.

For Launch Day 2007, staged June 2, Halsey Herreshoff, president of the HerreshoffMarineMuseum (Bristol), was the featured graduation speaker. Remarks were also made by IYRS president Terry Nathan and program director Clark Poston.

The launching of the fleet took place at the school docks. This year students launched a fleet of 12-foot Beetle Cats, two Herreshoff 12-1/2s, and two yacht tenders.

First-year students launched a fleet of Beetle Cats, a classic catboat whose design dates to 1921. The Beetle Cat is the perennial first-year project, and first-years work in teams of two to restore the boats. The second-year students work in larger teams on boats that present different types of challenges.

The team approach for the second years is valuable training for the workplace, as students need to develop teamwork, problem solve as a group, and learn to recognize strengths of each team member to let that play into the strength of the team.

This year second-years restored two Herreshoff 12-1/2s and completed replicas of two yacht tenders: an 11-foot tender built by George Lawley & Sons and a Columbia lifeboat model built by Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. for the J-class yacht Columbia.

The two 12-1/2s were originally built 14 years apart and helped to illustrate the transition of changes made to the boats while they were in production. Bonita, hull No. 761, was one of the original series built at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. in Bristol in 1914. Tern is hull No. 1084 built by Herreshoff in 1928.

The 12-1/2s were among the first “production” boats, and over 400 were built.

Graduating students came from throughout the United States, France, Greece and Japan.

Coast Guard revives Storm Flag program

The Coast Guard is re-establishing a Storm Flag program at selected Coast Guard boat stations throughout the United States to warn the public of approaching storm conditions.

Coast Guard stations participated in the National Weather Service’s official Coastal Warning Display program for more than 100 years along with yacht clubs and marinas until it was discontinued in 1989.

“For everyone living along the coast these storm flags serve as a visible reminder of the destruction that can be wrought by nature, especially as we head into this year’s hurricane season,” says Rear Adm. David Pekoske, assistant commandant for operations. “Storm flags are a nautical tradition for mariners and the Coast Guard is pleased to bring back this part of our maritime heritage.”

Starting June 1, the first day of hurricane season, selected boat stations hoisted display flags to warn of small craft advisories, gale warnings, storm warnings and hurricane warnings. Residents of coastal communities are urged to tune to National Weather Service radio broadcasts for the latest information when they observe a flag hoisted as part of this program.

The Coast Guard plans to have a minimum of 37 stations participate. The first stations to activate the program are located in Shinnecock, N.Y.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Merrimack River and Chatham, Mass.; Georgetown and Charleston, S.C.; Tybee Island and Brunswick, Ga.; and in Florida, Mayport, Ponce de Leon, Port Canaveral, Fort Pierce, Lake Worth Inlet, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, Key West, Marathon and Islamorada. Stations in Sandy Hook, N.J.; New Haven, Conn.; and Jones Beach, N.Y., may soon come on line.

The flags are not intended to preclude mariners from taking necessary precautions as soon as possible to protect their vessel and crews.

Mariners are encouraged to visit for suggestions on how to prepare their vessels ahead of a storm.

Hinckley Co. names new CEO

The board of directors of The Hinckley Company has named James P. McManus the new president and chief executive officer of the Maine-based yacht manufacturer. He is scheduled to assume his new duties in July.

A native New Englander, McManus is a graduate of YaleUniversity and the HarvardBusinessSchool. He has worked in corporate finance with Lehman Brothers and management consulting with McKinsey & Company. While at the Aramark Corporation, he served as president of several operating divisions until finally heading Aramark’s largest group, the Business Services Group with $2.3 billion in revenue.

He comes to Hinckley from Zoots Corporation, the largest and fastest growing dry cleaning chain in the country with 78 service sites and 300,000 customers, of which he is president and CEO.

“As a lifelong avid boater, Jim fully appreciates the high quality and craftsmanship of Hinckley yachts,” says Hinckley’s chairman of the board, Ralph Willard.

McManus lives in Newton, Mass., and Block Island, R.I. with his wife Robin and their three children.

McManus replaces Gerry DiSchino, who died unexpectedly at his home March 10.

World record becomes official

Ralph Brown of Spring Hill, Fla., and Bob Brown of Merritt Island, Fla., were recognized by the WorldRecordAcademy as being the holders of a new record: the longest unescorted oceanic crossing of a flats boat.

A flats boat by definition is a single engine (trolling motors don’t count), low-profile, open fishing boat, that can operate in less than one foot of water. This particular flats boat, the Intruder 21, made by the brothers’ company, Dream Boats, can operate in less than 6 inches of water.

Many smaller boats have made a longer trip, but they have had either a keel, considerably more freeboard, a cabin, sail or an escort.

The Brown brothers departed from Atlantic Beach, N.C. at 9:15 a.m., April 30, arriving in Bermuda around 1 p.m. May 2. They departed Bermuda May 9 at 9:30 a.m. and arrived in New York Harbor at 3:15 p.m. May 11, where they received a ticket from an officer for the U.S. Park Police around Ellis Island. The brothers say they accidentally ventured into restricted waters.

More details can be obtained from the World Record Academy’s Web site: .

Big performance in a little boat

Eight skippers assembled in Newport, R.I., in June for the first competition in North America between Mini 6.50 yachts, 21-foot versions of the Open 50s and 60s that race around the globe in events such as the Vendee Globe and the Around Alone. The boats were entered as a demonstration class in the Bermuda One-Two, a race hosted by the Newport and Goat Island Yacht Clubs.

Competitors brought their so-called Mini Transats from as far away as British Columbia. One competitor, Ryan Finn, sailed his boat from New Orleans as a shake-down cruise. Among the racers is an all-female crew of Katie Ambach and Tara Thomas.

Joe Cooper, founder of the fledgling Shorthanded Sailing Association and a former Mini 6.50 owner, says the boats, while tiny, have been trail blazers for bigger yachts since their inception in 1979. (While never raced as a class in the United States, the boats are popular in Europe and compete in the biannual single-handed race from France to Brazil, an event that occurs this year.)

Among the innovations Cooper credits to the minis are water ballast, asymmetrical spinnakers, canting keels, carbon masts and gyro autopilots.

Finn, planned to race his mini for the first time in the Bermuda One-Two, says the boat will top 12 knots going down wind or reaching. He says upwind it can’t overcome its short waterline and is slow.

Most of the boats have fiberglass hulls with carbon fiber parts. They can cost as little as $20,000 used, weigh less than 2,000 pounds and are required to have positive flotation and watertight bulkheads.

In the Bermuda One-Two, the minis were to be raced single-handed from Newport to St. George’s, Bermuda and double-handed on the return trip.

— Douglas A. Campbell

Yacht groups to join forces

The International Yacht Restoration School and The Museum of Yachting, both in Newport, R.I., have taken a first step toward a convergence. Following a year of discussions, the boards of both organizations signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines a structure for bringing the two nationally known non-profits together. IYRS and the museum are currently fine-tuning the specifics of their convergence, with a goal toward having a final agreement in place later this summer.

“Many great schools are connected to a museum or cultural center. While a school may be focused on educating students and advancing research, a museum can take that knowledge to a wider public,” says John Mecray, marine artist and co-founding trustee of both IYRS and The Museum of Yachting. “I see IYRS and the museum working together in a number of ways: We can coordinate restorations and exhibitions, or target projects and displays. With the right planning and creativity, we can make yachting’s colorful history come alive — both for those who live here, and for the many people who visit Newport.”

Both organizations will publish updates on this news in their member communications. For more information on IYRS, visit For more information on The Museum of Yachting, visit .