Nyala: New World Champion

“Nyala” is back in the news. This time, it’s international.

Westporters of a certain age have heard of Nyala Farm. That’s the office complex tucked into rolling hills and meadows between I-95, the Sherwood Island Connector and Greens Farms Road.

It is not a cute, throwback name. Back in the day it was an actual, working dairy farm. In 1910, E.T. Bedford bought 52 acres in Greens Farms.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

His son, Frederick T. Bedford, named the property in honor of the beautiful nyala (antelope) he’d seen on an African safari.

In 1970 Stauffer Chemical developed their world headquarters there. It was Westport’s first corporate office park. Today, Bridgewater — the world’s largest hedge fund — is a major tenant.

But this morning’s Nyala news is nautical.

Nyala is the name of a racing vessel. Yesterday, it won the 12 Metre World Vintage Division Championship, off Newport, Rhode Island.

The International Twelve Metre Association event drew 21 boats from 6 countries. That’s the largest fleet ever gathered in North America.

Nyala, in action.

The name is no coincidence. The Nyala sailboat was commissioned by F.T. Bedford, president of the Standard Oil Corporation. She was given as a wedding present to his daughter Lucy and her new husband, Briggs Cunningham.

(He is credited with inventing the “Cunningham hole,” still used today to provide luff tension in a mainsail.)

After restoration in 1996, Nyala attended the 2001 Jubilee regatta in Cowes, off the UK. She won the 12-Metre Worlds in Barcelona in 2014.

Nyala had already secured the 2019 championship, before yesterday’s final day of racing.

She didn’t have to sail. But Patrizio Bertelli took her out anyway. Nyala posted her 8th victory in 9 races.

Next up: This weekend’s New York Yacht Club 175th Anniversary Regatta.

Bridgewater may want to send a cheering section.

7 responses to “Nyala: New World Champion

  1. Great stuff, Dan. Your sailing readers, and I am among them, will find more detail at http://www.12mrclass.com/yachts/detail/273-itemId.511707070.html
    and discover Nyala is a wooden Twelve built in 1938 by America’s most famous yacht designer Olin Stephens and used to have Southport as its home port.

    The 12-meter class was used for the America’s Cup for decades when it resumed after WW II. I happily saw three regattas when I worked for The Newport Daily News, the last from the Goodyear Blimp (!) between 1974 and 1980. Ted Turner famously won in 1977. Twelves are not that fast for boats their size, but their design is breathtakingly classic. Best when the sails were all white Dacron back in 1974, and not the quilted various shades of beige of Kevlar and Mylar racing sails of today. I hate the catamaran machines used now in the America’s Cup which I refuse to call “boats.”

    Plus Twelves are uniquely maneuverable. Famously, they can sail closer to the wind than 45 degrees, which your sailing readers will find amazing, if they didn’t already know it. Thanks for the post. I didn’t know the boat nor the local connection. Bring it all back to Westport!

    • Fascinating info, Bill. Thanks for filling in the blanks. Happy sailing!

    • Peter Barlow

      I can add that NYALA is 68 feet 9 inches overall length and 48 feet on the waterline. She was Olin Stephens’ design # 214 in a long lifetime of designing 2615 boats.

  2. Charles Taylor

    Got my first paying job with Mr Louis Gordon estate keeper for FT Bedford. I had intended to work at Nyala Farm. Back in the day FT had a 12 meter craft. The dock in back which stretched at least 150-200 feet into the Sound was a favorite place to take dates swimming at night when the family were out of town (with Mr Gordon’s permission of course). He cut me slack!

  3. Interesting development on Ruth’s other property http://www.nyalafarm.com – chris woods

  4. Helen Avery Ranholm

    My Grandfather Howard C Avery and father Joseph G Avery both worked for. The Bedfords. My father showed his horses and raced his trotters. They lived on Wyamore Farms on West Parish Road where the stables where.
    They would travel with the horses when Helen and Ruth showed their horses around the Eastern seaboard . Quite a time, different life.

  5. Wendy Crowther

    I don’t think it’s a Cunningham “hole” but a Cunningham haul or downhaul. Also, Ms. Ranholm above is referring to Wynfromere rather than Wyamore.