This August, the Cloudy Bay team invited me down to Newport, Rhode Island for the inaugural J-Class World Championship. First, I’m sure you’re asking…. “What is a J-Class?” Yeah, I was wondering the same thing.
Well, back in the 1920s and 1930s, 20 J-Class Yachts (yup, they’re boats) were designed, ten were actually built, and six of them raced each other in the America’s Cup. Basically, they were the best of the best. But, by the 1940s, either the stunningly beautiful boats were destroyed or broken up for scrap metal during the war. A few decades later, and only three of the J-Class Yachts had survived. But by the early 2000s, the J-Class Association was created and a revival was prompted. Original designs were studied and replicas were built… and subsequently, J-Class racing returned.*
*Please note – this is a very condensed and non-expert re-telling of what I learned about these boats.
Now, since the Cloudy Bay team (a delicious winery in New Zealand) is very passionate about sailing, it only made sense that they’d want to elevate our sailing experience with a few bottles of their wine.
So, we hopped on board the most beautiful boat I’ve ever been on – the Columbia – a replica of the historic 141-foot wooden Gloucester fishing schooner that was originally built in 1923. And for the rest of the day, got up close & personal with the J-Class yachts as they raced each other through the Narragansett Bay.
For me, I had never been so close to a regatta and when the J-Class yachts soared by us, ripping through the waves with their sails completely filled with wind, and dozens of crew members on board sitting balanced on the side of the boat… it was like sea giants taking over the Narragansett Bay.