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12M Gleam; Elizabeth Tiedemann and her crew raced Mariner in honor of her husband, the late Bob Tiedemann; Nantucket is beautifully historical down to the last detail; 12 Meters were among the yachts in attendance.


Although it is an unwritten rule that the annual Opera House regatta carries a bad weather curse – or so I heard from someone who has missed only five of the 34 OHCs in history – the conditions could not have been more promising leading up to this summer's edition of the late August regatta. Brightwork gleamed in Nantucket's crisp evening sunlight, the grand assemblage of classics juxtaposed amongst a packed harbor of megayachts, as yachties and yacht enthusiasts made their way to 21 Federal for Saturday evening's skipper's meeting.

The OHC is one of the largest classic wooden boat races on the U.S. eastern seaboard, and this year for the first time ever, was part of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. Though the fact that a boat must be all-wooden to compete means that the actual race is limited to classics – of all sizes – the crowd is massive, comprised of everyone from the superyacht owners and their guests, to the summer islanders, to the die-hard classic racer, to the weekend charterer. The famous weekend got its start one summer evening in 1973, when an array of the island's finest sailors were lamenting the lack of race events while congregated at the lively Opera House Bar on South Water Street. Gwen Gaillard, proprietress of the Opera House, together with the late maitre d' Chick Walsh, offered to throw the post-race party and donate the trophy – a sterling silver wine bucket – if the yachties actually got a race together. By the end of the evening, the Opera House Cup was in the works.

What began as the "first all-wooden, single hulled classic boat regatta on the East Coast to welcome all classes of boats to compete for a single trophy", has evolved to accommodate a vast fleet of yachts who wouldn't dream of missing the northeastern summer's event de résistance. Sixty-four boats competed in this year's Opera House Cup regatta, from the 103ft Whitehawk, to Owl, a 26ft Alerion sloop who won overall and took home the grand prize – which included the Cup, of course – and this year, a gorgeous Panerai watch and wall clock. The OHC is also now the primary fundraiser for island youth programs through Nantucket Community Sailing.

The traditional grand finale – the annual OHC Awards party at Jetties Beach – was better than ever, from the famous raw bar to dancing the night away under a miraculously clear sky. The harbor, which gradually filled throughout the week, was quite the spectacle by the weekend. Scores of spectators, in town for a Nantucket weekend, cruised the docks, ice cream in hand, to take in the glimmering perfection of the growing Opera House fleet.


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Seascope Yacht Charters - Home of the Tiedemann Collection
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