Dolphin at the Opera House Cup

Submitted by Tom Darling from Manhattan

My Dolphin obsession began early.  I saw her in Bristol, RI  Harbor while sailing my keel Cape Cod Mercury in sailing class in the late  1960s.  I knew she had been at the first Block Island Race Week in 1965.  51 years after launch.  I knew she was  one of the top boats.  One of the directors of my sailing program at the Bristol YC was Capt Nat’s grandson.  It all fell into place.

When we next saw her, my brother and I were sailing fiberglass racer-cruisers  first on Naragansett Bay, then alternating with Long Island Sound.  We kept seeing the “White Boat”. It won again and again. We knew that a Shelter Island family kept it up. We knew it had a twin called “Mischief” based in Mystic. Then by the late 1970s , we forgot all about Dolphin.

We encountered her again in 2014. She had been acquired by Oakcliff from her then owners who had sailed her in the South of France. She was redone  by a Greenport shipwright. after all that time drying out in the sun on the  Riviera. She looked great.

At the time I was sailing a Nantucket Alerion  and just starting to  write my series of articles, now many repurposed into my podcast ” Conversations with Classic Boats”. My first article for WindCheck Magazine was on Dolphin summer 2015.  My first podcast , on Dolphin, was May 2020, in the teeth of the Pandemic.

I convinced my Alerion skipper to put a crew together to bring Dolphin to Nantucket for the Opera House Cup.  The delivery crew practically drowned driving her upwind in a noreaster. We relieved them in  Vineyard Haven.  We took an evening sail to tuneup. On Opera House Sunday, we enjoyed the salutes of the massive crowd on Brant Point which cheers on the fleet headed for the race.  We started in a fleet as small as a Dragon and as big as Big Ti, the L Francis Herreshoff masterpiece. We duelled with a pair of 38 foot bowsprit sloops.  We won the class . We  did the race twice since.  No wins but podium finishes.   Post Virus, we hope  we will again.

Go Dolphin.  Happy 107th Birthday .

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