Living the Life: Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge

Leah Bourne
Living the Life: Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge
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Newport, Rhode Island was once the tony summer destination for the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. The seaside enclave is now home to some seriously amazing restaurants and hotels and a strong community of boating enthusiasts. Italian watch brand Panerai (the brand that supplied the Italian Royal Navy with diving watches during World War II) sponsored the Museum of Yachting’s Annual Classic Yacht Regatta over Labor Day weekend, and we were along for the ride. We stayed in a hotel built for a Vanderbilt mistress, had brunch at a yacht club that boasts famous past presidents as members and traipsed around Newport harbor in a boat built in the Prohibition era while watching classic yachts race. All in all, we would say that that is living the life.
Click through the slideshow to see some of the best moments from the weekend, and some tips for traveling to Newport.

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Panerai wrapped up the North American circuit of its annual Classic Yacht Regatta over Labor Day weekend in Newport, Rhode Island (the preceding circuits were in Marblehead and Nantucket). The classic seaside destination that the Rockefellers once called home during the summer proved to be the perfect weekend respite (its only a three hour train ride from New York City and a one hour train ride from Boston). Panerai, the classic Italian watch brand that supplied diving watches to the Italian navy during World War II, were the perfect hosts to show off the best of Newport. 

On Friday we checked into the Vanderbilt Grace, originally built by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt in 1909 (reportedly for his mistress Mary Ruiz). The hotel has preserved much of its original charm including fireplaces galore and artwork by Howard Chandler Christy. 41 Mary Street, Newport;

One of the hotel's best features is its rooftop terrace. It is the perfect place to unwind with a glass of bubbly and take in Newport's renowned sunset (while obviously posing for Instagram for your family and friends).

The first evening we dined poolside at the hotel feasting on the "Vintage Vinderbilt" menu, inspired by a menu of the family's from 1912. The best part of the evening was getting to hobnob with watch dealers that had flown in for the event. 

On Saturday our group went out in the water on spectator boats to watch the race. A little bit about classic yachting—to qualify for this race, boats must be made of wood or metal and built before 1950 to be in the vintage yachts category and before 1976 to be in the classic yachts category. This is truly a sport for one-percenters because it costs a fortune to restore and maintain these boats.

That evening we headed to 41 North, a resort located right on the marina (there is some serious yacht ogling to be had here) for dinner and dancing. The best part of the space is its life-size chess board. 31 Thames Street, Newport;

No jeans are allowed at the prestigious New York Yacht Club, housed in a mansion once owned by John Nicholas Brown (of Brown University), our first stop on Sunday. Don't expect to ever see the inside unless you are friends with a member. Harbour Court, 5 Halidon Avenue, Newport;

Once inside we spent a good five minutes gaping at the incredible imported chandeliers from France. The chandeliers at the nearby The Breakers mansion (formerly owned by the Vanderbilt family) are even more spectacular and the house is open to the public for tours. 44 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport;

Our group dined on the terrace of the yacht club overlooking the bay for brunch while watching the Annual Classic Yacht Parade, an event where boats show off their club pennants and battle flags before beginning racing. 

If only we could enjoy this view every day. Here, a picture perfect snapshot of Narragansett Bay.

After brunch we boarded the Pam, a 62' classic motor vessel built in 1921 as a commuter yacht for Harrington Walker (Walker used this boat to get to and from work). Upon entering the boat you feel like you have been transported to another era thanks to its varnished pine aft deck fitted with wicker chairs and a mahogany daybed. 

There are so many beautiful details on these classic yachts. Ultimately Diane Palm who owns the Fife-designed Quest walked away with First Place Overall in the race and the coveted Panerai Radiomir Black Seal Automatic 44 MM that comes with the win (yes, we were jealous). 

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