|15 September 1962 President Kennedy waves to the America's Cup crew of the "Weatherly". Aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., off Newport, Rhode Island. Photograph by Cecil Stoughton, White House|
|This year's finalists|
This news reminded me of my involvement in an America's Cup that took place over fifty years ago. I had recently reported aboard my first ship, the U.S.S. Hugh Purvis, a Sumner-class destroyer of World War II vintage. It was the summer of 1962 when we were informed that we might be an escort vessel in support of the upcoming America's Cup competition to be held in Newport, Rhode Island, our home port. That year, the America’s Cup competition would be run by the New York Yacht Club, since they were the current holder of the cup. They held a competitive regatta to determine which boat would represent their club. Bus Mosbacher’s Weatherly, Paul Shields’ Columbia, and Ted Hood’s Nefertiti competed for the opportunity to defend the cup. Weatherly, a Phil Rhodes designed boat that had been originally built for the 1958 competition, won the right to face the challenger. Weatherly had undergone significant changes since the 1958 cup races. The challenger was Gretel, the first Australian-built 12-meter racing yacht. She would be helmed by Jock Sturrock (Is that not the greatest athlete’s name ever???).
|Nefertiti -- One of the ships|
eliminated during trials
|The ships' formation|
|JFK and Jackie observe the race from the "veranda"|
aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850)
Each of the escort ships was used to carry VIPs to the daily race. We had a few Medal of Honor winners, a couple of Congressmen and their parties, and an Indian Princess among our distinguished guests. I specifically recall Admiral Joseph James “Jocko” Clark, a veteran of both World Wars and Korea, and the first Native American to graduate from the Naval Academy. Admiral Clark was the recipient of the Navy Cross, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Navy Commendation medal. He was typical of the passengers that we had aboard for the Cup Races.
|A souvenir cup from the race|
The warships lined up in formation as we reached the site of the day’s competition. Maintaining steerageway was a challenge because we were moving so slowly much of the time. Each day’s competition involved a total course of 24 nautical miles, but some days’ courses were triangular whereas others were windward-leeward. The first leg of each course was always into the wind.
|Gretel surfs through to windward of Weatherly|
in the 1962 America’s Cup - Maritime Productions Collection