CI museum celebrates World Cup

Set sail on a journey through the history of America’s Cup competition at City Island Nautical Museum.

To celebrate City Island’s long history with America’s Cup, being held this year in San Francisco Bay from July 4 to September 22, the City Island Nautical Museum has created a new exhibition.

The exhibition, opened on August 11, offers a rare opportunity for visitors to appreciate—through the eyes of artists past and present—how City Island has contributed to this competition, the oldest active international sporting event.

The America’s Cup is a trophy awarded to the winner of the America’s Cup match races between two sailing yachts. One yacht, known as the defender, represents the yacht club that currently holds the America’s Cup and the second yacht, known as the challenger, represents the yacht club that is challenging for the cup.

The new exhibition is curated by Cheryl Brinker and her husband Steven Bussemiaer and features works by local City Island artists, objects from the museum’s collection, and photographs of the sailboats.

Also on exhibit will be a selection of hand-colored etchings of America’s Cup boats by Mark Whitcombe.

Barbara Dolensek, vice president of the City Island Civic Association, said since the exhibit’s opening, the museum has seen an uptick in traffic.

“We’ve actually had a lot more visitors than usual,” Dolensek said. “We have had a couple of large groups come through for special visits to see it.”

Boats built on City Island led a 110-year string of 24 successful campaigns to defend the cup, beginning with Magic, an 84-foot schooner that had been rebuilt in the David Carll Shipyard in 1869, and ending with Freedom, built at the Minneford Shipyard in 1980.

Every contender from 1903 to 1958 carried its inventory of sails made by Ratsey & Lapthorn, which had a loft on City Island from 1900 to 1982.

Ironically, in 1983, when City Island no longer had a connection to the defense of the America’s Cup, the USA suffered its first loss of the trophy.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Sunday, September 15, that will include a talk by City Islander Dick Sadler.

“An interesting aspect of the reception will be the talk with Dick Sadler,” Dolensek said. “He was the only City Islander to ever have been on a boat crew and to win America’s Cup. He was 23-years-old at the time. He’ll talk about his experiences. We also devoted a section to a memory board that will contain things like champagne bottles they drank from when they won the cup, which is kind of fun.”

The City Island Nautical Museum is operated by the City Island Historical Society, a not-for-profit organization, is located at 190 Fordham St, and is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and by special appointment.

There is no admission fee to the Museum, which relies on donations, grants, and membership dues.

For more information, go to or call (718) 885-0008.

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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