Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Heritage Wins When Charley Morgan Comes Sailing in Newport Again

Some people stop counting birthdays at 29, most by 39.  But, if you were the 12 Meter, Heritage, your mid 40s would be some of your best years.  At the age of 43, Heritage pulled off what most of us can’t—she became better looking and more athletic.  If you don’t believe us, look at the post-refit pictures and the race results.  They don’t lie.  Now at 44, our bright hulled beauty is brighter, re-connecting with old friends, making new ones, and winning on the race course. 

This past Saturday, with her original designer, builder, owner and skipper all aboard, she took 1st place in the 12 Meter Class at the Leukemia Cup in Newport, RI.  Normally, it's not easy to coordinate all those people. But on Heritage, we just called racing and manufacturing icon, Charley Morgan, told him it was for a good cause, and he took care of the rest.  He booked tickets for his artist wife, Maurine, and himself, and climbed aboard on Saturday morning.

If you’re still not following our gist, you might be thinking that recent America’s Cup boats have always been either syndicate-built or financed by corporate sponsors and sailed by others.  You’d be correct if it weren’t for Charley Morgan, Heritage, and 1970.  Charley, fresh off many racing victories and success as a pioneer of the fiberglass boat business (yes, he’s that Morgan), decided to do it all.  He designed, built, and skippered her in the 1970 America’s Cup defender series, and must have been a bit tired from it all, as Intrepid prevailed, but only after taking it to the full 7 races.

So, back to the future… racer/broker extraordinaire, Paul Buttrose of S&S, and Heritage owner, Eli Massar, are discussing how to give Heritage the 44th birthday she deserves.  A few beers and some crazy ideas later, they decided that a refit and a re-uniting of Heritage with Morgan would be an age-appropriate gift.  The invited guests would have to work for their invitation though.  All crew would contribute their time and travel on behalf of the Leukemia Society.

On a spectacular sunny and breezy day in Newport this past Saturday, the plan executed perfectly.  Heritage sparkled, the crew performed, and, at 44, Heritage placed first, even beating her younger woven competitors (on corrected time, but, hey, the world didn’t stand still during those 27 extra years).

At the pre-race event at the New York Yacht Club on Friday night, Charley Morgan inspired, telling the host, Gary Jobson, and the gathered crowd that giving to worthy causes that help people who are having rough times is “one of the most civilized things that the sailing community can do.”  Wendy Lotz and her husband, New York Yacht Club Rear Commodore Philip Lotz met the call by outbidding all others for two seats aboard Heritage with Charley Morgan. 

It’s safe to say that if Charley stopped counting birthdays at 29, 39, or even 49, he’s had a few uncounted birthdays.  But Heritage’s DNA must have originated with him.  He can concurrently model yacht clothing while executing beautiful tacks and quietly offering advice that forces at least a few of us to re-study our polar diagrams.  Having Charley aboard can best be described as motivational.

Of course, while shiny new finishes and having the designer onboard are probably good karma, it doesn’t hurt to have a great crew.  Aboard on Saturday were experienced 12 Meter sailors, yacht designers, Heritage's charter crew, and our guest, Wendy from the New York Yacht Club, whose ticket entitled her to sit and enjoy the show, but whose vast experience and competitive spirit made her an instrumental part of the team. Most importantly though, every classic yacht deserves a Paul Buttrose, whose breadth of sailing friends is only surpassed by his persuasive charm in recruiting them to come sailing in Newport.

Heritage did not participate in the America’s Cup Jubilee in 2001, but having Charley Morgan aboard for her first race since being restored to her 1970 luster and colors was our version of it.  Thanks to all who participated and donated their time, money, and efforts on behalf of the Leukemia Society.  And, thank you to Charley Morgan for giving us an excuse to unite old friends, meet new ones, and have such a great time on such a great boat for such a great cause.  May there be many more.

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