Newport Shipyard Personality: Dennis Conner

Dennis Conner and his beautiful-as-ever wife, Daintry, visited us for a sail in Nassau just before Christmas. My relationship with DC goes back to the start of the FREEDOM America's Cup campaign in 1979..... known to old salts as the "best campaign." After that, he won the Cup three more times...... eventually compiling an amazing total of eight America's Cup teams! 

Dockmaster Eli worked for Dennis in his last Cup campaign, practicing in Long Beach and then went to New Zealand. Dennis promised us that the boy we sent him would come back a man, complete with lifelong friends and an experience like no other. Truer words were never said....... the experience made Eli the hardest working Dockmaster around, who knew more than a thing or two about rigging thanks to the STARS & STRIPES team. Newport Shipyard thanks Dennis, and proudly makes him 'Personality of the Week' as we enter the New Year.

DC's latest project has been the meticulous restoration of the 50' 1925, COTTON BLOSSOM II, which he just campaigned successfully on the classic circuit in the Med. She's more than beautiful and goes like a rocket ship. Dennis, having accomplished her restoration and compiled an enviable record, is putting her up for sale. The lucky buyer.....

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Ambassador Rooney

Newport Shipyard has a distinguished Ambassador in its partner ranks! Francis Rooney is not only a sailor, but is the US Ambassador to the Vatican. 

In spite of his schedule, he's always been a reachable and a willing ear for the Shipyard offering advice and wisdom drawn from an amazing business career. Francis was introduced to the Shipyard by docking here a few years ago aboard his 92' GITANA, the former VICTORIA of STRATHERN. He liked how we did things, and a relationship developed..... aided and abetted by several St Barth's and Newport Buckets! 

I don't know if I've ever talked to Francis without him saying how delighted he and his family are to be part of the Shipyard. We Dana's live very much by the "family" aspect, and hearing it from Francis makes our partnership run deeper. He inspires us in all the right directions, and has a work ethic (which unfortunately extends to exercise!) that keeps us happily pushing forward. 

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Llwyd Ecclestone

Another partner in Newport Shipyard is Llwyd Ecclestone. I first got to know Llwyd almost twenty years ago when we got together in purchasing 'Harbour Court', the New York Yacht Club's waterfront clubhouse across the harbor. We had an impromptu meeting aboard his then yacht, VOLCANO.... and soon we owned a mansion together! Our 'Harbour Court' partnership has sort of morphed into our Newport Shipyard partnership. He called me upset after we decided to save the Shipyard asking "why" I hadn't invited him to participate. Didn't I know he always wanted to do something like that!?

Llwyd is a sailor we can all look up to. He has owned a series of incredible boats, up to his present day KETURAH, a 92' sloop he launch in New Zealand in 2003. He has won several of racing biggies, such as the Chicago-Mackinac and the Bermuda Race (aboard his last boat, KODIAK.) He's amazingly competitive at times, but he can switch gears in an instant and be one of the best "cruisers" I've ever known.

All of Llwyd's boats have also had that ability to "switch gears". Masts are swapped, in some cases keels, sails, interiors "adjusted", and off Llwyd will go across the Pacific, to Croatia, or be found gunk-holing in Maine. Many racers I've known are lousy cruisers. Llwyd gets it completely. He's also been very loyal to his friends he has sailed with over the years, and his wife and kids are around enough to consider his boat a "family" endeavor.

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Newport Shipyard Personality: David Ray

When it comes to my partner, David Ray, I (Charlie) have to grab a pen! We're best friends who compete like crazy..... on just about anything. A magazine writer one time asked my daughter, Belle, if she knew of the "competition" between David and her father...... to which she simply answered, "all my life"!

David was ground zero at Newport Shipyard, as he was at his "ground zero", Bannister's Wharf...... the most popular destination in Newport. His ownership percentage has waned, but he has been there every step of the way, from the days we were fingerprinted in 1998 in order to bid for the Shipyard in Bankruptcy Court. David says he told me about it..... yet (of course) I in fact told him! What really matters, however, is we both committed to saving the Shipyard on a fateful night by phone when I was offshore "on watch".

It was brutally hard and complicated work at first cleaning up a defunct dirty commercial operation in the middle of Newport, with major problems hitting us from every direction and no money flowing to help. I always say that David has the best ideas in the room at a meeting..... and his "street smarts" served us well. He's fun too, and I still laugh when I look around each day at some of his observations from that early time.

So..... from this I hope you realize that I now run a better wharf than David, sail faster in my boat, appear more youthful than him, and could use some help in reminding him that Feb 6th is his Godson Nick Dana's 21st birthday, who is expecting "great things"!

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Rich Wilkinson

Rich Wilkinson has worked at Newport Shipyard for over 20 years in a multitude of capacities. He is everyone's go to person for troubleshooting everything from faulty webcams to "my phone doesn't work" to "Rich, how do we get the permits for..."

"Ask Rich" is probably the most oft-spoken phrase at One Washington Street. His low-key manner belies the array of talents he brings. In fact he is so low-key that he managed to get married recently without any fanfare. It only came out because someone asked him what he was going to do on the upcoming weekend, to which he casually answered that he was getting married.. His wife, Rocio and his step-son, David, have become welcome and familiar faces at the Shipyard.

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Newport Shipyard Personalities: Mike & Jan Watts

After arriving at Newport Shipyard onboard their boat Southern Belle at the end of July for a short stop-over, Mike and Jan Watts returned on August 13 and became regular fixtures at the Shipyard - attending almost every BBQ and party every since!

Always arriving with big smiles, delicious appetizers and wine or cocktails, the Newport Shipyard crew became their adopted summer family. And with their golden retriever Daisy tagging along, Mike and Jan would grab coffee and breakfast every morning at Belle's before they headed out for a walk on the town. 

The Watts headed south on Southern Belle on Friday...bound for South Carolina to play the tail end of the golf season, then on the Caribbean for the rest of the winter. They will surely be missed around the Shipyard and we look forward to hopefully seeing them back in Newport next summer.

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Niall Rafferty

Captain of the formidable 127-foot Alden-designed motor-sailer Parlay, Niall Rafferty has spent more than a decade sailing large cruising boats in and out of Newport for rigging, painting and other projects. A native of Ireland, but now a U.S. Citizen and resident of Florida, "Raf" has been captain of Parlay since February.

With his five full-time and six part-time crew, Raf is currently managing a long list of service and repairs onboard Parlay at Newport Shipyard before they head south during the first week in December bound for St Barth's. "The Shipyard is great, it's downtown and has the big boat facilities we require," said Rafferty. 

Parlay, built in 1991 at Ortova Navi in Italy for Leslie Quick and his family, will spend the first part of the winter in the Caribbean and then will head back to Florida for January and February. They plan to participate in the St Barth's Bucket in March before heading back to New England in the Spring. 

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Rob Myles

A lifelong competitive sailor, Rob Myles has participated in two America's Cup campaigns with Dennis Conner and is now a regular fixture at Belle's while running Hap Fauth's Bella Mente. You will remember they did pretty well earlier in the summer figuring out wind and current where others couldn't to win line honors in the Centennial Newport to Bermuda Race. And this week on Oct 26th, an even bigger prize was bestowed on Rob and his wife, Meg, when their daughter Kate was born. She's certain to be a future sailor from these "salty" parents...... (Meg represented the USA at the 2004 Olympics in Athens!)

Newport Shipyard salutes Rob and his family for "who" they are, and what they bring to all of us by setting the bar high.....and Kate, your first Bridge Street Chicken wrap and Orangina are on the house. 

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Shipyard Personality: Norma Dana

We just tallied our 3rd quarter numbers, which revealed that Newport Shipyard just completed its most successful "quarter" in the eight years we've been here. It was a long struggle from not having a single yacht just a few years ago..... to having the finest yachts in the world grace our docks today.

No question a lot of people's hard work and a basically good strategy did much of the "heavy lifting," but equally important was the help of some less obvious people like Norma Dana.

Financing is key to any business and three years ago we were able to take the bank out of the financial equation and "self-finance." Our numbers at that point frankly didn't entice any bank to want to help, without so many strings attached that we would have been tied up in knots! Norma understood what the right financing package could mean to us, and participated alongside the owners of Newport Shipyard.

Going "positive" for us can really be traced back to that time, which is why Norma well-deserves "Personality of the Week." Her participation in our private financing was a piece of the puzzle, and we are forever grateful to her for believing in us when we needed it most.

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Steve Frank

When former NYYC Commodore Bob Stone died last spring, many sailors wondered what would happen to his beloved 69' McCurdy & Rhodes, Concordia built, ARCADIA. "Stoney" had always been a larger-than-life charismatic personality, who even knew how to "hand over" the America's Cup with grace and humor in September '83. 

Sailor Steve Frank stepped up and bought Arcadia and was seen a few days ago, chute up, sailing down the Neck with three quarters of Bob's longtime crew aboard. It warmed our hearts to know she had a new life ahead of her, with a knowledgeable sailor like Steve Frank at the helm. 

Steve also got the famous Mount Gay rum spigot that Arcadia had built in to one of her "intended" water tanks! He plans to donate that well-worn spigot to the New York Yacht Club for its Sailing Center that is being built in Bob's memory. 

GRACIE will be her new name after his grandmother, Newport her home port. Her #406 sail number will stay the same, and she'll go from blue to black. We salute Steve for stepping in and wish him "fair winds."

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Newport Shipyard Personality: THOR

I am the God Thor,
I am the War God,
I am the Thunderer!
Here in my Northland,
My fastness and fortress,
Reign I forever!

Force rules the world still,
Has ruled it, shall rule it;
Meekness is weakness,
Strength is triumphant,
Over the whole earth
Still is it Thor's Day!

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Reading Longfellow's battle-cry, it is easy to see why the arrival of the yacht Thor at Newport Shipyard has struck fear in the hearts of local sailors and their vessels. All hands have been seen working busily around the yard, preparing their yachts for . . . for what? If you ask one of the crew, he'll tell you it's hurricane season, and you can never be too prepared . . . before glancing uneasily over his shoulder at the little blue yawl floating ominously by the 70-ton basin. In fact, rumor has it that the second roast of Hamilton Porker Bacon (following - some say suspiciously - on the heels of the first roast) was actually a sacrifice to the Thunder God, a desperate effort by Dockmaster Eli Dana to protect his fleet from the wrath of this mercurial new arrival.

But fear not, Local Salt, for such a sweet little ship couldn't possibly harbor the imperious designs of her patron god. While popular belief holds that the vessel was forged using Thor's hammer "Mjolnir" in the land of Asgard somewhere around the turn of the 5th Century BC, scholars have recently proved this theory to be apocryphal. Research has uncovered that Thor was actually constructed by mortals at the Abeking & Rasmussen yard in Germany in the year 1955 AD. She was designed by a mortal also, coming from the pen of the prolific New York designer Phil Rhodes. So please don't let Thor frighten you, and don't perpetuate the myth that she is a violent war-monger. Stereotyping is wrong. Instead we should all welcome Thor to the Newport Shipyard family . . . and may God have mercy on those who don't!

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Commodore George Hinman

NYYC Commodore George Hinman at the helm of his newly delivered New York 42, CONSPIRACY.

The newly minted dark blue hull #1 of the NY 42 class that is being introduced by Nautor's Swan is awaiting its rig and final touches at Newport Shipyard. Thirty-five sisterships were ordered in the first five months. It will be a large class sailing under the IRC Rule. Commodore Hinman, a long-time advocate of Corinthian sailing, is enthusiastic about the response to the new one-design.

The Commodore has also been active in promoting international team racing and this past weekend the NYYC hosted the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda from Porto Cervo, Italy for several days of competitive racing in Newport waters.

As the New York Yacht Club's 59th Commodore, he follows his father who was the 39th. Both father and son were closely involved with the America's Cup through several different campaigns, most notably INTREPID in 1967. Commodore Hinman and his wife Emilie live in Greenwich, CT.

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Jimmy Correia

Jimmy Correia keeps the boss calm as he moves a multi-million dollar, 150-foot, "just out of the box" yacht from one side of the Shipyard to the other like a giant Tonka Toy on steroids. It is every man's ultimate have control of a remote that moves a 330-ton lift with tires the size of a pick-up-truck.

Jimmy's friendly, good-natured banter belies his expertise and concentration when it comes to maneuvering these behemoths around cars, people, dogs, tents and other boats. With a small yellow remote slung around his neck, Jimmy moves the yachts around in a complicated ballet to their assigned position and then sets them on jack-stands.

Jimmy has been with Newport Shipyard since the old commercial days and was one of the first to embrace the mega-yacht vision for a different sort of yard. He moved seamlessly from guiding 300-foot commercial ferries up the railway to jockeying the latest superyachts into the sling. Jimmy's son, Josh, has followed in his father's footsteps and is showing the same affection for the 'remote' as his Dad.

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Newport Shipyard Personalities: Amy Laing & Maggie Vale

Amy Laing & Maggie Vale are part of the spirited team at Churchill Yacht Partners, headquartered at Newport Shipyard. Amy plans every great party that Churchill throws with meticulous detail... and they are famous for their own brand of entertainment. She finds herself den-mother to a boisterous team of sailors on Whisper and Bella Mente and procurer of their ever-changing and colorful team-wear.

Maggie manages the Charter fleet for Churchill, but can put on a wig quicker than most! With her innate artistic flair, she carries out Amy's party themes in full regalia and then leads everyone out to the dance floor. 

Thanks to this dynamic duo, no one has a better time than the Churchill team when it comes to working hard and playing hard!

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Hamilton Porker Bacon VI

The late Hamilton Porker Bacon VI, of Salem Connecticut died last Friday in the arms of his good friends, Brian and John (Capt. and mate of M/Y Windscape). 

In a poignant last gesture his friends loaded him onto a bed of ice and took him for a symbolic last fling at Mohegan Sun where they recklessly gambled away his legacy to them. Having fulfilled Ham's last wish they sped him back to Newport Shipyard where they put him on a funeral pyre (425 deg. for 6 hrs.) 

At eight o'clock, accompanied by a three-piece band, he was served to the 150 or so hungry sailors who had come to pay their respects. Thank you Brian and John...and Eli for making good 'ole Ham's demise a tasty tribute.

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Newport Shipyard Personalities: Oatsie Charles and Sister Therese Antone

Oatsie Charles and Sister Therese Antone
Last Thursday evening at Newport Shipyard, Salve Regina University honored members of its sailing team for winning the gold medal at the 2006 Yngling Worlds in France. They also won the junior division at the Yngling North American championship at Thunder Bay in Michigan just two weeks ago.

Local sailing personalities and supporters of the University have taken notice of Salve's success on the water, and have joined forces to keep the team reaching for the top of the leaderboard.

The fund-raiser at the Shipyard resulted in six new boats.... complete with notable names gracing the new fleet. Sister Therese, Sister Esther, and others already had boats named for them, so donors began naming the rest of the fleet for such Newporters as Oatsie Charles, Nuala Pell and Noreen Drexel.... a formidable line-up of powerful women.

Sister Therese is seen most Sunday mornings at Belle's. As well, Oatsie's sleek black Lincoln glides around the Shipyard often to check out the yachts. Salve Sailing looks to be in good hands! Coach John Ingalls has made some very good friends. 

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Diana Ivanova

Diana Ivanova, from Sophia, Bulgaria is familiar to Shipyard regulars of the past few summers. Up until this summer she has been the up-beat, energetic heart of Belle's. Diana recently received her university degree in communications in Bulgaria and had hoped to come back to the Shipyard this summer and then contuinue her graduate studies over here, but it wasn't to be. Because Diana could not get to Belle's, Belle's went to her in the form of Belle (Dana) and boyfriend, Andy Ridall who spent several days in Bulgaria with Diana and Anatoli having the "best holiday we've ever had."

Diana stays in close touch with friends in Newport and constantly checks the website hoping to see news and photos. Her charm and enthusiasm are very missed and we are hoping that she and Anatoli will return next summer. They welcome friends who visit them in Bulagaria with open arms and hearts.

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Jane Stevenson

Jane Stevenson, a native New Zealander who now calls Newport home, is in charge of the boats for the BARKING MAD Farr 40 racing program. A fiercely competitive program, the two BARKING MADs, one fire-engine red to match Jane's coveted Mini-Cooper and the other a serious nautical blue, are kept in top nick under Jane's close scrutiny. (Her Mini gets the same attention!) 

Jane has been married for just over a year to Aussie, Chris Hosking, and is just beginning to get used to his "strange" accent.

Her 12-year-old Rotweiler, Matilda*, is usually seen sleeping in the shade of BARKING MAD. Jane and the whole BARKING MAD outfit are a colorful and appreciated addition to Newport Shipyard scene.

*editor's note: 'Matilda' sounds like a suspiciously Aussie name to give a Kiwi dog, but we doubt that she is the inspiration for BARKING MAD.

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Newport Shipyard Personalities: Allen Ferreira & Ryland Hamilton

If you've ever eaten at Belle's, chances are, you've seen both Allen Ferreira and Ryland Hamilton hard at work behind the counter. Allen (left), a native of Bristol, Rhode Island and a graduate of Mount Hope High School, has been working at Belle's for more than a year. In addition to cooking, he helps manage Belle's and is in charge of ordering all food and supplies. Allen started his culinary career at Tav-Vino in Warren, RI when he was 16-years-old. He then worked at Gertrude's Galley in Middletown before he came to Belle's last April. In his free time, you might catch Allen in a WWE wrestling tournament, but don't be surprised if you don't see his name in the program. On the mat, Allen goes by the name "Jason Blade." His next bout is on September 12 in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Ryland (above, right) is a native of Montego Bay, Jamaica. He started cooking at Belle's four years ago when the Café first opened. Ryland, who is also a cook at the Marriott Hotel, spends nine months in Newport and then takes three months off (December-February) to return to Jamaica to spend time with his wife Sophia. Ryland started coming to Newport in 1999 through a program offered by the Marriott. When he's not cooking or spending time with his wife or son Demar, 2, you can find Ryland watching the West Indies Cricket Club on television.

So the next time you're having breakfast or lunch at the counter in Belle's, be sure to say hello to Allen and Ryland. They'll be glad you know their names!

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