Friday, February 3, 2012

The Model Room

For anyone who has even the slightest affinity for boats, a visit to the New York Yacht Club on 44th Street in Manhattan is a treat. The building was built in 1899 and designed by Warren & Wetmore in the Beaux Arts style; its limestone façade is fitted out in a whimsical, nautical style with windows that protrude like the transoms of galleons. The main dining room is fitted with large hanging knees, and the effect is so shippy, you half expect your peas to roll gently off your plate.

But the jewel of the club is the Model Room, space that displays a huge collection of full and half hull models of some of the most famous designs in the world. Brendan and I had the opportunity to visit this room for an International Yacht Restoration School reception at the club. On entering the party we could not help but be drawn to the wall of models, and to press our noses against the large glass display cases of fully rigged miniatures chronicling the history of the America’s Cup competitors.

Jerry Kirby gave the keynote address at the event. This threw us for a bit, because we confused him with George Kirby, of Kirby Paints, who makes traditional linseed and lead-based paint. It seemed like a strange forum for a talk about paint.

Turns out that Jerry Kirby is an “extreme sailor” and our ears perked up hopefully when he dropped a couple swear words into his opening remarks. He did not disappoint, and spoke vividly of various adventures, including the Volvo Ocean Race, and the capsizing of RAMBLER during the Fastnet Race while she was on-pace to shatter the speed record. I was fascinated with his stories, as I am with any sort of sailing that involves a helmet. The idea of “averaging” 30 knots in an ocean race is both exotic and terrifying. It seems a world away from sailing classic yachts, that was so much in evidence around us, and made an interesting counterpoint to our evening in that beautiful space.

-Maria Simpson



At February 3, 2012 at 6:23 PM , Blogger Jose Emilio Carvalho III said...

I've always wanted to get inside this place! Thanks for sharing!

At February 3, 2012 at 6:27 PM , Blogger Rockport Marine said...

I hope you can see it some time... it is one of the most beautiful buildings in New York, I think.

At March 8, 2012 at 2:04 PM , Blogger narduar said...

On the afternoon of New Year's Eve in 1993, I rocked up by myself to the front door of the New York Yacht Club on a visit to New York City and unfortunately found that it was closed. I explained to the Security Guard that I was a member of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and wanted to "visit" the club. He explained that the NYYC did not have reciprocal privileges with any club (let alone my club) and that the club wasn't open. However, after a quick chat, he saw that I was well dressed and appeared harmless and agreed to let me inside to have a look at the Model Room and the place where the America's Cup used to reside. He gave me a brief guided tour of the club and I took note of the fine potted plant in the place where the Auld Mug had once lived (and I thought it was to be replaced by the losing skippers head...), then left me alone to marvel at the spectacle that is the NYYC Model room. I was all alone examining these fantastic models and the half hulls that adorn the walls, trying to recall the little I had read about the battles between these great boats and their skippers and crews to win this trophy. It was a magical experience. After a good 45 minutes, the gentlemen indicated that my private tour was over, I thanked him profusely, then was on my way to celebrate the New Year with some friends. They couldn't understand why I had such a big smile on my face.


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Rockport Marine is a group of talented craftspeople who design, build and restore wooden yachts with unparalleled expertise.