“Stars & Stripes” is arguably the most famous yacht in American history. She is the 12 Meter Yacht sailed by Dennis Conner and his crew in Freemantle, Australia, and in 1987, she recaptured the America's Cup for the USA against all odds. It was a moment that inspired the nation and put sailing on the cover of Time magazine, on Wall Street for a triumphant ticker tape parade, and on the White House lawn.
After her incredible victory in Australia, “Stars & Stripes” was forced into service as a charter boat in St Maarten in the Caribbean to earn her keep. The owners would invite cruise ship passengers to buy tickets and sail aboard to recreate the excitement of America’s Cup 12 Meter races. In 2017 Hurricane Irma devastated St Maarten and, along with it, “Stars & Stripes” which was dismasted and sunk. The owners hoped to restore her but the nature of the damage and the cost to bring her back to life was too great for the owners to bear. After holding on to “Stars & Stripes “for several years, the operators decided to pass her to the next caretakers who have the resources and passion to bring her back to life.
This spring “Stars & Stripes” was purchased by the NY Harbor Sailing Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization, which will restore the intrepid yacht as a floating museum and reminder of America’s innovative spirit, tenacity and sailing prowess. The restoration costs are estimated at approximately one million dollars. Our goal is to have “Stars & Stripes” restored by one of America’s most prestigious boatyards in Newport, RI.
The foundation will launch a grassroots campaign soliciting $5-$100 donations from individuals who have a love of sailing and pride in America’s technology and winning ways. Costs could also be reduced by finding endemic partners and manufacturers who understand and appreciate this yacht and who would be eager to assist in making the restoration as authentic as possible. This is a unique opportunity to bring America’s most famous yacht back to life.
It is important that all Americans who remember and were inspired by the victory of “Stars & Stripes” be given an opportunity to participate in her restoration. We believe the time is right for this project to inspire our country and provide a project upon which to build common ground. This grassroots campaign will also be augmented by larger gifts and sponsorships from individuals, companies and foundations. This program is about historical preservation and national pride.
“Stars & Stripes” will be restored by the “People of the United States of America” and will become a floating museum that engages the public and tells the story of America’s greatest moment in sailing. Stars & Stripes” will embark on a national tour visiting yacht clubs, boat shows and boating festivals across America. When not on tour, “Stars & Stripes” will be on display in New York Harbor. A made-for-streaming-services documentary about the yacht’s restoration and her place in history is also being considered to further publicize this project.
All Photos By Daniel Forster