2007-06-07 / News

Yachting organizations plan to merge

The International Yacht Restoration School and The Museum of Yachting have taken a first step toward a convergence.

Following over a year of discussions, the boards of both organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines a structure for bringing the two Newport non-profits together. IYRS and the museum are currently fine-tuning the specifics of their convergence, with a goal toward having a final agreement in place later this summer.

"Many great schools are connected to a museum or cultural center. While a school may be focused on educating students and advancing research, a museum can take that knowledge to a wider public," said Jamestown resident John Mecray, marine artist and co-founding trustee of both IYRS and The Museum of Yachting. "I see IYRS and the museum working together in a number of ways. We can coordinate restorations and exhibitions, or target projects and displays. With the right planning and creativity, we can make yachting's colorful history come alive- both for those who live here, and for the many people who visit Newport."

Complementary Missions

Both organizations educate the public about maritime history and its traditions, while working to preserve those traditions. IYRS' main focus is vocational education, training craftsmen in traditional boatbuilding, restoration, and marine systems. The Museum educates the public at large, celebrating yachting tradition through the presentation of vessels, artifacts, literature, events, and regattas. Both organizations host lectures, regattas and cruises, and other events that often draw similar core audience.

"There are wonderful opportunities," says Bill Doyle, chairman of the Museum of Yachting. "Bringing together IYRS and the museum will provide new ways to preserve and present the museum's collections while incorporating yachting's rich cultural heritage into the career programs at IYRS. These discussions follow a turnaround by The Museum of Yachting that has focused on sustainability and fi- nancial stability, and by coming together, the museum's future is even more secure."

A Process of Integration

This initial phase comes on the eve of both organizations' busiest seasons. Summer will be business as usual for both groups, each hosting their own annual events such as the school's Summer Gala in July and the museum's Classic Yacht Regatta in September.

A framework for how to converge the two groups is outlined in the memorandum of understanding. Once a final agreement has been reached, IYRS President Terry Nathan will also serve as president of The Museum of Yachting, and Sally Anne Santos, will continue in her current role as creative director with the museum. Unification of the respective boards will serve both IYRS and the Museum.

IYRS occupies a 2.5-acre waterfront campus on Thames Street, with a marina, two historic buildings, and a collection of classic watercraft donated to the school for restoration; the school is also the site of the restoration of the 1885 133' Coronet. The Museum of Yachting is located on the grounds of Fort Adams State Park, where it is the home of a collection of America's Cup artifacts, the Single Handed Sailors Hall of Fame, a collection of fine classic yachts, and a library of yachting films, documents, books, trophies, plans and other materials.

Each organization plans to remain based at its current home. But they will coordinate on programs, exhibitions, attractions, and events together, and will best utilize their respective facilities in these plans.

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