Totem rules 38th Opera House Cup
|Photo by Jim Powers
Totem, left, skippered by Jesse Smith of Jamestown, R.I., won the 38th annual Opera House Cup.
By Joshua Balling
I&M Assistant Editor
Sometimes, experience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Jesse Smith of Middletown, R.I., who began sailing only a little over a year ago, skippered his 37-foot six-meter sloop Totem to victory in Sunday’s 38th annual Opera House Cup, besting 56 other boats in the culminating event of the 2010 Nantucket Race Week.
Smith did have some assistance on the 16.5-mile course. His crew included America’s Cup sailor Mike Toppa and North Sails vice president Jim Allsopp, who helped him win the cup in a corrected time a little over four minutes faster than the second-place boat, Harvey Jones’ W-46 Mustang, which finished fourth last year. Charlie Kilvert and Gary Jobson’s 42-foot Cythera and Angus Davis’ 28-foot Aquila rounded out the 2010 top four.
The classic 12-meter sloop Heritage was the fastest boat in the 16.55-mile race, crossing the finish line in a hair over three hours, but corrected out to finish in 10th place overall.
“Jesse Smith is the perfect example of somebody who came into sailing later in life, and has gotten really excited about it. I believe he’s only been sailing about a year and a half. Last summer, he ended up competing in the six-meter world championships, and has been sailing since then,” said Nantucket Community Sailing executive director and race organizer Nick Judson. “He is the consummate competitor.”
Yet Smith’s victory might not have been his most impressive sailing feat of Race Week. He single-handedly sailed Totem, a 1930 Bill Luders design, from Newport, R.I. to Nantucket without the benefit of instruments or an engine.