Gitana under full sail.

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Gloucester, MA      Newton, MA     

Yacht to Trot

Friday, July 30, 2004
Author: Joel Beck
Town Online (Boston Herald Interactive)

We won't quite put it up there with the Patriots winning two of the past three Super Bowls, but New Englanders can take comfort in knowing that there's another champion right here on the North Shore.

(Besides Ray Bourque, that is. At last check, he was still hoisting that Stanley Cup trophy he won in Colorado over his head somewhere near his house in Topsfield.)

This time, the city of Gloucester is home to the latest champion: a 118-foot super-yacht called Gitana, which stunned and outperformed some of the fastest and most elite sailing yachts in the world last Sunday as part of the Newport Bucket, a prestigious regatta in Newport, R.I. featuring only the best in worldwide yachting.

And you thought Gitana was just a fad that went out with the '80s. Oh wait, we're thinking of Gitano jeans.

Even Gitana's owner, Dr. Kenneth Weiss of Gloucester, and most of his crew were shocked by their first place finish in Sunday's race. Still, Weiss attributed Gitana's success to some critical tactical decisions made by his captain, Daniel Rawlins.

"Contributing to our success was a fair handicap and a 20-knot wind and a decision to make a longer seaward tack when we perceived a drop in wind speed affecting others on the inside tack," says Weiss. "I monitored their wind and boat speed falling, thanks to our ARPA radar tracking several other competitors."

Ah-ha. That's what we would have done too.

"When Daniel saw the wind dying during the course of the race," Weiss adds, "he said 'We're not going to take the shortest route,' which many others did. We were going to head out and catch whatever wind will be left."

As it turned out, the strategy worked to perfection and Sunday's first-place finish propelled Gitana to a third-place overall trophy in the entire regatta.

Meanwhile, it looks as though its strong showing in the Newport Bucket is just the beginning of good things to come for Gitana. Last June, Hollywood director Andy Tennent ordered a script to be rewritten to include Gitana in a new Will Smith movie, currently filming on location in Manhattan.

Sure, everyone wants to be associated with a winner, but let's just hope this newfound fame doesn't go to Gitana's head. When we find out that the yacht is dating Tara Reid, then we'll worry.