Newport (R.I.) July 15, 2009 — On Saturday, July 11, when 500 gala-goers arrived at the International Yacht Restoration School for "A Night Under the Stars," the astral theme of the 12th Annual IYRS Summer Gala sponsored by Land Rover North America was clear: it described an elegant evening under a summer sky and also paid tribute to the best and the brightest who study at IYRS. But as midnight neared and auction bids were tallied, the Gala theme acknowledged a third kind of star: the sponsors and individuals who continue to support IYRS in these economically challenging times. Together at this event, they raised $575,000 for the school's educational programs and scholarships.
"We are extremely grateful for the many people who support the school and recognize the important work that IYRS does," said Carol O'Malley (San Antonio, Texas), who co-chaired the event with Joe Dockery (Newport, R.I./Greenwich, Conn.). "We have a core support group who are deeply committed to the school's educational mission and its students—and this group continues to see us through these difficult economic times."
In the past three years, working in concert with IYRS staff and volunteers, Dockery and O'Malley have co-chaired the most successful Galas in IYRS history in terms of funds raised—with strong attendance, good results at live and silent auctions, and an impressive lineup of corporate sponsors. This year, Title Sponsor Land Rover North America was joined by Platinum Sponsors Condé Nast Publications, Jim Bishop, Sr., Lexus North America, Prestige Land Rover of Paramus, and Prestige Lexus of Ramsey.
Live and silent auctions featured a unique mix of historic watercraft, travel opportunities, maritime artifacts, and art objects that appealed to the avid sailors and fans of classic boats in the audience. Some of the items that elicited top bids included: an IYRS-built replica of a rare 19th-century Whitehall rowing boat; a day on the water with the A-team of BMW ORACLE Racing, the U.S. Challenger of Record for the 33rd America’s Cup; a week at a villa on the island of Saint Barths and two days of racing with the megayacht fleet at the Saint Barths Bucket Regatta; and dinner and a one-night stay aboard the extraordinary 1901 yacht Cangarda recently restored by Dr. Robert McNeil, who is currently restoring Coronet on the IYRS campus. But the item that drew the largest response was an opportunity to build a scholarship fund for IYRS students. When the bid was opened for scholarships, hands went up throughout the sea of dinner tables set up inside Restoration Hall; by the close of the bidding, $68,000 had been raised for student scholarships.
"IYRS is an important training resource for the marine industry, and these scholarship funds will help us expand opportunities for gifted and needy students … The people who gave so generously will have an important impact on the lives of these students," said IYRS President Terry Nathan.
This year's Gala crowned an important chapter for IYRS. After fourteen years of fundraising and work to restore the school's historic campus, IYRS fulfilled its mission of safeguarding its historic buildings by completing the restoration of the 1831 Aquidneck Mill this spring. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Mill now houses expansion space for the school, a maritime library, a Visitor Center that this season has nearly doubled the number of summer visitors coming to the school, and lease space for tenants. For the Gala, the IYRS campus was transformed in fitting style—with formal dining inside Restoration Hall, and cocktails, dancing and dessert under the canopy of a towering white tent placed in the shadow of the historic Mill. During dinner, gala-goers were treated to a special performance by Kate Taylor, who shares a musical heritage with her brothers James and Livingston.
Commodore Sponsors who helped make the Gala a great success included BMW ORACLE Racing, Boat International Media, Dayton Carr/VCFA Group, Dwyer Insurance, Samantha & Michael Florio/Quester Gallery, Karen & Gerry Migliaccio, Moët Hennessy USA, Panerai, Perfect Surroundings, William Vareika Fine Arts, and Vineyard Vines.
The 13th Annual IYRS Summer Gala will take place on
July 10, 2010.
For more information about IYRS, visit www.iyrs.org .