When it comes to sports, I’ve covered tennis and a little gymnastics. My knowledge of yacht racing was non-existent, but what’s a gal to say when she’s invited to play (and drink champagne) with Moet & Chandon at the America’s Cup Finals in Newport, Rhode Island? Yes, of course.
I was due to arrive at Boston airport late afternoon, but weather problems (a threat of storms, not actual rain) kept my flight grounded a bit longer than expected. By the time the car service got me to Newport, the rest of my group had already left for the America’s Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner.
This was not just a “dinner,” it was in the back of the Marble House Mansion, built in the late 19th century for the Vanderbilts. The evening was being hosted by Louis Vuitton and the tables were flowing with Moet & Chandon Champagne. Everyone who had ever participated in the world of boat racing was there and the ceremony for this year’s inductees had already started by the time I took my place with Stephane Baschiera, CEO of Moët & Chandon, Ludovic du Plessis, Vice President of Moët Chandon USA and Graham Boyes, CMO of Moët Hennessy USA.
Also at my table were the five fellow journalists I was sharing this adventure with, as well as public relations representatives of the champagne company. We enjoyed the food (especially the decadent Red Velvet Molten Cake) and bubbly and then stuck around a bit to dance to an unexpectedly incredible band.
Back at The Hotel Viking, I found a commemorative America’s Cup Moet & Chandon bottle of champagne, along with an ice bucket and two glasses. I smiled at it as I dozed off to sleep, dreaming about our itinerary for the next day.
Morning came too soon, but it was a beautiful day in Newport. I ordered breakfast from room service as I had a bit of time before we were taking off for our sail. I had been excited to hear we would be on Moet & Chandon America II, sailing through Newport Harbor on this yacht that participated in the 1987 America’s Cup Race off the Australian Coast.
I was not disappointed with the ride. The sun was shining as we helped sail the boat (I took the wheel for awhile) between boats both participating in and watching the morning practice. We finished the sail with champagne in gold goblets, a fitting send off before we headed down to the main venue.
After lunch we went to Fort Adams to the America’s Cup Village to watch the semifinal races from Club 45, the VIP restaurant that was overflowing with food and Champagne. We stayed until the end, happy to see the Americans had made the final, and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening festivities.
The cocktail hour was followed by dinner at the Mansion, which consisted of various stations and passed hors d'oeuvres around the incredible grounds. We were introduced to all of the racing teams and even got to mingle with some of them, before calling it an early night. Everyone needed to get ready for the morning finals of the race.