12-meter yacht racing
Newport has long been a play place for American aristocrats, and their playthings are a little more impressive than the ones you probably own. Want to get a feel for it? Yachting’s International 12-Metre Class’ World Championships – the largest-ever gathering of 12-Metre yachts in the US with two dozen boats from seven countries -- are in Newport from July 8 to 13th.
While actually sailing one of these yachts is the province of Olympic-class sailors, there are still a number of ways you can get in on the action. First is to view the races landside at vantage points along the shore close to Narragansett Bay’s East Passage. Fort Adams State Park (Harrison Ave., Newport; 401 847 2400) may be the best, as you can see the boats themselves close up when they return; Fort Adams is where most of the fleet will be berthed. If you want to rub elbows with the sailors themselves, there’s a July 11 party at Marble House (596 Bellevue Avenue in Newport; https://12metreyachtclub.org/dinner-dance/) with 9:30 pm Dancing and Dessert tickets still available as of this writing; $250 per person, service dress or cocktail attire required.
Want a feel for the boats themselves? 12 meter charters (https://12metercharters.com) owns a couple vintage ones – including the 1958 America’s Cup winner – that they can take you out on. The easiest way is with a 2-hour sail that combines a history of Newport with an interactive sailing experience that allows those interested to participate in the sailing (no experience necessary.) Tickets are $98 adults, $50 children. Expect 12-16 people on your boat. If you plan a couple months ahead, you can really race – the 3-hour Racing Experience gives you a chance to feel the exhilaration of setting out at full speed, grinding and trimming the sails, and actually calling out race tactics in an actual race against another vintage (but world-class) vessel. It’s $175 per person – again, no experience (or active participation) necessary.