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Yachtsman donates to two sailing charities

Yachtsman James H. "Jim" Clark, internet pioneer and co-founder of Netscape Communications, donated $150,000 each to two Newport, R.I. charitable organizations.

The beneficiaries are Sail Newport and Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island.

The donations are follow-throughs on Clark's public promise to make contributions to marine charities if he were ever to hire professional sailors to race in pursuit of a trophy. Clark, who competes in regattas with his 137-foot J-Class yacht Hanuman, hopes to have other J-Class owners follow his lead.

"I have made it quite public that if I spend money on professionals to try and win a sailing competition, I will donate a comparable amount to a marine- or sailing-based charity," said Clark. "Some of us are fortunate to own J-Class yachts, and if we all give back in the spirit of friendship, dedication to the sport of sailing, and devotion to the oceans that we use, perhaps we can have an impact."

Clark recently announced plans to integrate the Newport-based Puma Ocean Racing Team and helmsman Ken Read into Clark's amateur team aboard Hanuman in a series of upcoming Caribbean regattas.

"Jim Clark keeps his promise," said Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport. According to Read, Clark's donation will benefit Sail Newport's public access sailing center and sailing programs for all ages.

Oliver Hazard chairman Bart Dunbar said the funding comes at an ideal time in the building of Rhode Island's Education at Sea tall ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry and the development of its educational programs.

"The school ship Oliver Hazard Perry will serve as an ocean classroom for experiential learning by youth of all ages and represent Rhode Island's rich maritime history," said Dunbar.

The steel hull of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is currently dry-docked and undergoing work at Promet Marine Services in Providence, R.I. After the deck, masts, rigging, sails and electronics have been added and its at-sea education programs for secondary schools and colleges established, SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will sail as a 230-foot (sparred length), three-masted, square rigger - the largest privately owned tall ship in America.