Wish You Were Sailing
A new building inspired by an old Army structure gives Rhode Island’s public-access sailing
program a purpose-built home on Newport Harbor
WRITTEN BY JILL CONNORS • PHOTOGRAPHED BY NAT REA
Sailing is to Newport, Rhode Island, as…fishing is to Gloucester, Massachusetts, clamming is to Cape Cod, whaling is to the island of Nantucket. Which is to say, it’s iconic and defining. Newport’s sailing his- tory includes most notably the America’s Cup, a race that took place from 1930 until 1983 in the waters of Newport, a location determined by the New York
Yacht Club, which by virtue of winning the competition ( 24 times
since 1857, a record sports streak) was entitled to choose the venue for
each challenge to the title. So when an Australian boat won the Cup in
Newport and formed, on the very day the Aussies were victorious, an
organization (later named Sail Newport) to continue Newport’s sail-
ing prominence. (So important is the date of the founding that the
last four digits of Sail Newport’s phone number are, to this day, 1983.)
Today, Sail Newport is New England’s largest public sailing cen-
sail newport’s new home provides mission-related functionality. The dock
office is on the ground level within eyesight of rent-by-the-hour J/22 sailboats.
Classroom and meeting space is above. The top floor houses the staff offices.
On the roof, VHF antennas serve radios that keep on-the-water staff in touch.