During the 1976 Tall Ships Race on the way from Bermuda to Newport, Ticonderoga sailed silently and gracefully past our family’s comfortable but ungainly Sorrento not ten minutes after the start. To a fifteen year old, who at age six had already become intrigued with the great L. Francis Herreshoff and his favorite design, Ticonderoga, this was a seminal moment; I knew I somehow had to find a way to sail on her some day. Little did I know, seventeen years later and through a whole series of coincidences, I would be putting my hand on her helm for the first time as her new owner and sailing her in numerous Bermuda Races.
She is now 71 years old and sails as beautifully as she did in 1936 right after her launch in Quincy Adams, Massachusetts, her birthplace. Others have said she is a museum piece, a vessel that should be carefully preserved as a quintessential example of yachting, racing and aesthetics of the era. We take a different approach. We love to race her, and we race her hard. To not be a part of the Centennial Bermuda Race would have been borderline criminal in my mind, so thirteen of us set out to do just that: to honor the most famous ocean race on its hundredth birthday and to celebrate 70 years of a very special yacht that has created immeasurable joy for thousands of sailors over the years. Although she still holds more elapsed ocean racing records than any other boat, the Bermuda Race is a predominantly upwind race, which is far less than optimal for Ticonderoga. Nonetheless, we were hopeful that by freak of nature we might see conditions for a broad reach most, if not all the way, to Bermuda.
Although it didn’t quite turn out to be the right kind of conditions for a good finish, we all had the time of our lives at sea, spending a day more than most other boats relishing amongst ourselves that we would have expended more time commemorating what we all know in our hearts is the greatest ocean race.