Though the America's Cup races against the Australian challenger beginning Sept. 15 will be spectacular to watch, the best time to see 12-meter boats in action will be during the final trials to pick the American defender. In these trials four boats—Weatherly, Nefertiti, Easterner and Columbia—will sail against one another every day except Sunday from August 15 until September 8, or until the New York Yacht Club Selection Committee makes its choice. Lodgings in and around Newport are still available for this period, but during the actual Cup races things are as tight as a tick. For the period of the trials there is no excursion sightseeing steamer, so it is necessary to have your own boat—or a charter. Powerboats capable of doing 12 to 15 knots are recommended to keep up with the fast 12-meters, and for security in the possibly rough seas nine miles past Brenton Reef Lightship your spectator boat should not be much less than 26 to 28 feet in length. Power cruisers or motor sailers that will carry 4 to 6 people range upward in price from $350 a week (minimum rental time) without crew, up ward of $850 with a skipper. Charter agents with a good variety of craft available are Spark-man & Stephens, 11 East 44 St., New York; Northrop & Johnson, 366 Madison Ave., New York; M. Rosenblatt & Son, 350 Broadway, New York; Norton Shipyard, 3 Swan Ave., Newport; and Captain Bud Phillips, Snell Road, Little Compton, R.I. The Newport Chamber of Commerce also has a list of skippers willing to charter.
If you are dead set on seeing the actual Cup races, and have no boat, charter or berth space already laid on, the best plan is to board one of four large excursion boats. Travel Agents Raymond & Whitcomb, 21 East 51 St., New York and 44 School St., Boston, have three 3-decker boats that can carry 350 to 500 spectators each without crowding. Two of them will leave Hammett's Wharf, Newport at 9:30 each race day; and one will leave from New Harbor, Block Island, also at 9:30. Price is $52.80, including tax, for the first four days, and 4-day ticket holders have options for additional race days. Single tickets are $16.50 per day. Raymond & Whitcomb also will secure shore accommodations for passengers.
The Raymond & Whitcomb fleet will be joined by the Nantasket Line's S.S. Potomac, a 4-decker that will carry 1,600 comfortably. Tickets are $50, including tax, for 4 days, SI 6.50 for one (write to 8 Rowe's Wharf, Boston). The Potomac will leave Navy Dock, Newport, at 9:30 on race days.
The wife of a race committee member advises that spectator equipment should include Bo-nine pills, waterproof slickers, a heavy sweater and binoculars—in order of importance. And for those who like to look at boats but can't bear the thought of being on one, we suggest putting together a thermos of Martinis, picking up some cold lobster at Mack's Fish House and joining the crowds of Newport residents who will be sitting on the rocks below Ocean Drive watching the parade of sails disappear over the horizon.
EATING AND SLEEPING IN NEWPORT
In Newport, eating out is mostly a matter of steaks, chops, chicken and the good local fish and lobster. Angelo's, 5 Memorial Drive, has the best food in town. Ask for the scampi—it's not on the menu. Christie's (see map) is the yachtsman's watering trough and scuttlebutt station. The management has stocked Swan beer and kangaroo stew for the Australians, but the Australians are eating American steak and drinking American beer. So are the crews of the American boats, who often drop into Christie's when their 12-meter boats are being worked on at the Newport Shipyard just across the way.
The Shamrock Cliff, a redsandstone restaurant and hotel, once the home of Broker E. F. Button, has a superb view of Narragansett Bay, adequate food. The White Horse Tavern (bring your own bottle). Farewell and Marlborough Sts., makes up for the lack of a liquor license by its colonial charm—built in 1687, it is the oldest operating tavern in America. The Viking offers standard New England hotel fare and a race-week atmosphere of pure frenzy, somewhat alleviated this year by the addition of a swimming pool and a motel wing. Rates are from $20 per double room.
The Muenchinger-King is a Victorian conglomeration favored by old ladies and race committees. Rooms arc $14 per day. The Port-O'-Call, a new small boatel, has a dock, provisions and is a fine place for yachtsmen, but is sold out till after the races. Other possibilities: Cliff Walk Manor, 82 Memorial Blvd., $14 per double; Newport Motor Inn in nearby Middletown, $18 per double.