America Replica Draws the Interest of Hundreds
While Richard Seguine was sitting on the beach this past Sunday, he saw the America sailing by and simply couldn’t stay away.
“I knew it was here, but I really decided at that moment that I had to come see it,” said the 72-year-old Barnegat Light resident who, along with hundreds of others on Monday, stopped by Lighthouse Marina to step aboard the famed replica of the original 1851 schooner that captured the first trophy of a race now bearing its name.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, at least for me, and I’m happy I had the opportunity to see it up close,” Seguine said. “It’s extremely impressive, and I’m glad it’s called the America. It’s a great name for such a strong vessel. It’s beautiful.”
Celebrating the history of the original schooner in advance of the 35th America’s Cup race in Bermuda next year, the modern replica of the America made several stops along the New Jersey coast during the past week. Since launching the America tour last July, Capt. Troy Sears has been sailing the boat to locations along the coasts of Mexico, United States, Canada and the Caribbean, providing public tours of the vessel.
Bea and Mike McDowall of Lanoka Harbor were among those who made the trek to Barnegat Light to check it out.
“It’s incredibly larger than I thought it would be,” said Bea McDowall. “When you see a boat like this out in the water, it doesn’t look so big. But the mast on this boat is huge, and it’s awesome.”
Mike McDowall enjoyed the public tour, which offered a brief talk by crew member Chris Childers explaining the history of the America and its replica, which is 139 feet in length. It has carbon-fiber and wood mast poles extending 105 feet high and a fiberglass-skinned, wooden deck.
“The vessel has a terrific tradition, and this boat has been all around the world,” McDowall said. “It was a pleasure to step on board and hear about its legacy.”
The America replica was built in 1995 in Albany, N.Y., some 54 years after the destruction of the original vessel, which occurred when the shed housing the boat during a snowstorm in Maryland collapsed and destroyed it. America’s home port is in San Diego, where Sears lives.
“Sailing changed my life,” Sears said. “It gave me the values of self-reliance and converting fear into confidence, and I care very much about sharing the message of what the America’s Cup is about. I could show up and do that myself, but I don’t think many people would listen to me without the boat to help deliver that message.”
Alongside Childers, Brie Busey, Cragan Smith, Tasha Ellis and Mark Stevenson crew the America, which took 24 days to sail from San Diego to New York.
“I wasn’t a sailor before I started crewing for Troy, who I had known for a while,” said the 31-year-old Ellis. “But one day he asked if I wanted to do it, and I immediately said yes. It’s a privilege and an awesome experience to be part of this. This is a dream job, and we were just talking yesterday about this location, that the people are all very lively and excited to see the boat and sail on it. And that’s the best part, meeting all the people.”
And if Sears had any openings to add crew members while docked in Barnegat Light, 13-year-old Bridget Green, who sails out of Surf City Yacht Club, said she’d take such an opportunity.
“I’ve never seen a boat like this,” she said. “And the fact five people crew this boat is amazing. I would love to be on a boat like this all the time. If I were asked, I’d definitely do it – with my parents’ permission, of course.”
— David Biggy