2017-03-09 / Front Page

'Good Luck, Good Life' for Sail Newport

By Betsy Sherman Walker

An enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Fort Adams construction site of Sail Newport’s new $5 million, 8,500 square foot Education and Recreation Center on the morning of March 6 to celebrate the completion of the framing of the facility. The topping off ceremony—a ritual meant to bring the blessings of “good luck, good life” to any kind of structure— was the perfect punctuation to the midway point in the project. From state and local lawmakers and administrators, the partners at NewPort Architects, Sail Newport board members and supporters, and community leaders, this has been a group effort of the finest kind. The overall goal of the “Campaign for Blue Space,” which also seeks to establish a permanently restricted endowment for the expansion of public sailing and marine education, is $10 million. To date, according to Executive Director Brad Read, $6.3 million has been raised. (Photo by Jon Dillworth) An enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Fort Adams construction site of Sail Newport’s new $5 million, 8,500 square foot Education and Recreation Center on the morning of March 6 to celebrate the completion of the framing of the facility. The topping off ceremony—a ritual meant to bring the blessings of “good luck, good life” to any kind of structure— was the perfect punctuation to the midway point in the project. From state and local lawmakers and administrators, the partners at NewPort Architects, Sail Newport board members and supporters, and community leaders, this has been a group effort of the finest kind. The overall goal of the “Campaign for Blue Space,” which also seeks to establish a permanently restricted endowment for the expansion of public sailing and marine education, is $10 million. To date, according to Executive Director Brad Read, $6.3 million has been raised. (Photo by Jon Dillworth) Newporters—especially Newporters who love to sail—know that the weather doesn’t always cooperate. And then, sometimes it does.


Ruby Galle signing the beam before its ascent to the top of the building. Ruby Galle signing the beam before its ascent to the top of the building. On Monday, March 6, a clear, cold day with no wind, no clouds, and blue sky, Sail Newport held a topping off ceremony, complete with a small tree, to mark a major milestone in the building of its $5 million Education and Recreation Center at Fort Adams State Park. The staff, board members, supporters, local and state dignitaries, carpenters, and construction workers watched as the cupola was slowly lifted into the air by a 130- foot crane and gently lowered into place.

The title for the fundraising effort, “Campaign For Blue Space,” seemed tailor-made for the day and the weather.

Supporters on hand included Rhode Island Senate President Theresa Paiva Weed D-Newport, Rep. Marvin Abney D-Newport, Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop, Vice Chair Lynn Ceglie, and Rhode Island DEM Director Janet Coit. Everyone took the opportunity to grab a Sharpie beforehand and sign the beams before the cupola went airborne. Paiva Weed thanked “the public-private partnership working together” to make it happen. She also spoke of the educational impact the center will have on the area schoolchildren, giving many of them “the first opportunity to step onto a sailboat.”

Topping off, said Josh Bouvier, a principal at South County Post & Beam (which built the center’s frame in North Kingstown), is “part of the history of its craft.” Bouvier explained that the frame came over the two bridges and was then reassembled piece by piece on the site—much like a barn raising. “The tree is the traditional last post,” he explained. A builder’s blessing: “Good luck, good life.”

Ground was broken for the facility in September of 2016. With a May 2017 completion date, it will house the Sail Newport offices, meeting and classroom spaces, public restrooms and recreational facilities for sailors of all ages and nationalities, from rank beginners to world-class competitors. It will also serve as the clubhouse for the Newport Rugby Club.

Afterward, Sail Newport Executive Director Brad Read told Newport This Week that “standing on the northeast corner of the deck,” he already gets good vibes about the center’s impact on Newport. Taking in the view “from Brenton Cove to the New York Yacht Club to Ida Lewis, all the way through the working waterfront to Newport Shipyard,” he added, “I can see how the center is designed to become a link with all of it.”

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