This small city of 25,000 people on Aquidneck Island punches well above its weight in the sailing world. In many ways it’s the spiritual home of the America’s Cup. Granted competition for the world’s oldest sporting trophy started around the Isle of Wight and it is decades since the racing took place in Newport. Yet for much of the 20th Century, before Australia ll broke the longest winning streak in sporting history, more Cup matches took place here than anywhere else. Today that legacy lives on in a big fleet of ex America’s Cup 12 Metre yachts, many of which are available for charter, and in any case make a fine sight.
The lavish summer homes and mansions both on Aquidneck Island and the scenic myriad of islands in the sheltered waters of Narragansett Bay are also fit for the very top echelons of yacht racing. Newport was the location of the “Summer White House” for both the Eisenhower and John F Kennedy presidencies, while in earlier times some of the country’s wealthiest families, including the Vanderbilts and Astors, had grand summer mansions here.
Newport is a welcoming destination for the widest possible range of sailors and boats, whether ocean cruisers, powerboats, sailing dinghies or racing keelboats. There is a whole host of small boatyards, marinas and mooring providers, many of which cater for visiting yachts, as well as a couple of small anchorages.
Given its heritage it’s perhaps also no surprise that all marine trades are available in Newport and it’s an excellent destination for top quality refit work. A number of big name marine companies are based here, while others have strategic outposts. British boat builder Oyster Yachts, for instance, has an in-house yacht management and refit facility – the company’s only one outside of Europe.
The nine clubs in Narragansett Bay include a base of the New York Yacht Club, which formerly hosted the America’s Cup racing. Newport Yacht Club has a long history of involvement in short-handed racing, including the OSTAR and the Bermuda 1-2, while competitive keelboat racing takes place a variety of others, including Ida Lewis Yacht Club, whose clubhouse is on the tiny island of Lime Rock, connected to the town by a pier.
As might be expected, Newport is also well placed for crew transfers. Providence, RI, which has the nearest international airport can be reached by coach or ferry, while Boston is 72 miles north and New York 125 miles south, both also accessible by train or coach.