Newport Shipyard Personality: Donald Tofias

The Donald!

What to say about a guy who created the W-Class, a veritable stable of stunning thoroughbred sailboats? Donald's dream to design a fleet of modern classics, reminiscent of the designs of Fife and Herreshoff, was carried out by the late designer Joel White and took form in the 76' beauties, Wild Horses and White Wings. Subsequently, the series of Stephens Waring & White designed W- 46's Equus, Arion, Mustang and Zebra joined the fleet followed more recently by the latest W-37. Donald has enthusiastically and generously campaigned these boats in the Med, England, the Caribbean, and the East Coast. His crew shirts with a large W are coveted by all who sail with him.

Donald's sensibilities hark back to a traditional era... from his Downeast Peapods to the W-Series, and even to his recent restoration of the old Clock Tower as his home. All are about his incredible vision. If you can keep up with all his posts of images on Facebook, you get insight into what makes him tick.

Donald has been a welcome fixture and unquestionably a 'personality' at Newport Shipyard, conjuring up a vision in khaki vest, cargo shorts, several lanyards around his neck, French Foreign Legion sun hat... slathered in serious sunblock. He never tires of racing his "beauties" with a bevy of beauties aboard as well. Easy to tease The Donald, but beware; he gives as good as he gets!

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Paulo Alves

A very popular 'personality' around the Shipyard is Paulo Alves, captain of the 109-foot sailboat Aventura who admits he never leaves home without his 'good humor.' A native of Cascais, Portugal, Paulo started sailing Optimists in 1980 in his hometown and has been an avid sailor ever since. Paulo started working on Aventura over three years ago after a long stint as captain onboard the 96-footer C'est La Vie. "Paulo is a great captain and customer - we love having him here," said Dockmaster Eli Dana.

"I love the Shipyard environment, the quality of work and the customer service," said Alves who first came to the Shipyard several years ago and has been hooked ever since. Paulo has made the Shipyard his 'home away from home' and even keeps his 1965 32-foot Pearson Vanguard Venture - which is his favorite place in Newport to dine in the evenings - at the Yard. "From the dock kids to the machine guys and the carpenters, everyone is great," Alves said.

When you are around the Shipyard, say hello to Paulo if he doesn't say hello first!

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Newport Shipyard Personality: Rose Mae Dana

Born into the Shipyard family in early this morning, Rose Mae Dana made her entrance at 30 seconds after midnight welcomed by Mom Lauren and Dad Eli. Grandfather Charlie was thrilled with the news and even happier that baby Rose narrowly missed sharing a birthday with Jimmy Correia, who celebrated his 50th on June 18th.

Weighing a very healthy 7 lbs, 6 ounces, Rose will be reporting to duty as the Shipyard's Deputy Assistant Dockmaster and Shipyard Outfitters Assistant Manager as soon as she comes home from Newport Hospital.

The report from the maternity wing was all family members are doing well and Eli has managed to stay on top of his email thanks to the speedy internet connection! Congratulations and welcome baby Rose, there are hundreds of people dying to meet you at Newport Shipyard...

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Newport Shipyard Personality: John Thomson

Johnny Thomson is an amazing waterfront personality who has been having a rough go of it for several years with ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease. He’s a friend to so many of us, and has done so much for everybody along the way… never asking a thing in return, as his daughter Victoria points out in her letter below. Johnny participated and succeeded racing sailboats as one of the original Farr 40 owners with # 4 Solution and # 135 Infinity, with top honors in the first two North American Championships in 1998 and 1999. He’ll Chair (honorary) the Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship, which will be held at Newport Shipyard this summer, and present the trophies this year.


From Vicky Thomson, Johnny’s daughter, to the Farr 40 Class:

Unfortunately there is nothing anyone can do for him as at this point there is no cure. So my brothers & I put together a team to do "The Walk to Cure ALS" in his honor in New York on Saturday, May 5th.

It's kind of funny, he's such a private person and really tends not to tell anyone what has been going on with him, so we weren't sure how he would feel about us doing this. So we put the team together & quietly got to work on it. When we took the opportunity to mention it to him, he was so touched it brought him to tears.

It's such a cruel disease, especially for someone like him who was such an active & vibrant person. He's pretty incapacitated at this point. But he expressed his desire to go do the walk with us (in his power wheelchair), which given his condition & how he's been feeling, is a huge feat!

… He touched so many people, and never expected anything in return, I can't help but feel this is a (very) small way of giving back to him & promoting a good cause at the same time. I know that if he could help, or find a cure so that no one else has to go through what he has, he would do it.

The Farr 40's were such a big part of his life, not only for the competition, but also for the camaraderie, so I understand why he made this request (to get the word out and help fund-raise during The Walk to Cure ALS).

Vicky Thomson

As of May 7, the Farr 40 Class Association's Virtual Team, F 40 Class Team, raised $9,600! To make a donation to this team, click here. As of May 7, John's Team, Team Juliet Bravo Tango Infinity raised a total of over $37,000! (Their goal was $21,212.21 - John's sail # on the 50-foot Infinity was USA-21212). To make a donation to this team, click here.

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Newport Shipyard Personality: The One and Only Tommy Baker

Tommy Baker…how to describe this force of nature and enthusiastic Shipyard supporter…connected, networker, bon-vivant, boundless energy, proud Charlestonian, former marine, generous to a fault, impeccably dressed, loyal friend, quick wit… oh…and he dances a mean Shag


A few “Tommyisms”….

"Is my hair on straight"

(when having his picture taken)

"Do I have to go now?"

(when a waiter comes over to his table)

"This IS America!!"

(his response when a bartender asks if he would like a drink.  Alternately, when asked if he would like food "What are we?..... savages?")

"For a guy with limited ability, I'm doing quite well thank you!"

(TB’s response when someone asks how he is doing)

"It's my wife's house, she just lets me stay here"

(when complimented on one of his beautiful houses")

"Don't go to HELL, go to HALL’S!"

(when recommending Hall’s Chophouse)

"Thank you, I'm still making payments on it"

(when complimented on his attire)

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