In this job, I find myself in many cool yacht clubs, boat yards, and events that do not make it to the e-newsletter. However, after a recent visit to the Sailing Museum in Newport, I felt it deserved mention largely because it left me feeling like a kid again and also feeling that maybe if it’d existed when I was 13, I might be doing something very different with my life. Or marginally different, at least; I did find my way to a sailing-themed career after all. I can’t help but think that if I knew about the history, legacy, and opportunities out there, I would have known a lot earlier on what I wanted to do.
The museum is housed in the historic Armory building on Thames St where the America’s Cup press corps used to be. The main exhibit hall is straight ahead when you walk in, and it’s a veritable playground of interactive activities, real boat hulls hung from the ceiling, history, and nautical artifacts. Interactive stations placed around the hall allow you to try out things like steering a 12-Metre by tiller and designing a boat. In the latter, you choose the LOA, sail area, and other attributes, and it calculates the potential speed of your design. Keep tweaking until you have the daily high score.
By square footage, the museum isn’t that large, but it is dense. The exhibits cover everything from the historic America’s Cups to The Volvo Ocean Race to the current collegiate champions. Pretty much every facet of racing in the modern era is on display. Plus, there are videos to watch, grinding pedestals to race your friends on, a mini-Omni theatre dome to see SailGP racers in action, Stan Honey’s actual circumnavigational charts… Anyway, I know I’m drooling a little, but I cannot overstate how much fun this place was. It made me excited to be a sailor. If you find yourself in the Newport area, it has my heartiest recommendation.
For more, visit thesailingmuseum.org.