Category Archives: Sports

The Briggs Cunningham Watch

More than once, “06880” has honored Briggs Cunningham.

The polymathic Westporter skippered Columbia to the America’s Cup title in 1958. He invented “the Cunningham,” a device to increase the speed of racing sailboats. He competed in the 24 hour auto race at LeMans, developed and built the Chrysler C-4R racing car, owned the 1st Ferrari in America, and made the cover of Time magazine.

Briggs Cunningham II, on the cover of Time.

Briggs Cunningham, on the cover of Time.

He also married Lucy Bedford, daughter of Standard Oil heir F.T. Bedford — not a bad career move. (Cunningham’s father, Briggs Sr., was an early investor in the company that became Procter and Gamble. So the son did not exactly pull  himself out of poverty.)

But “06880” has never mentioned Cunningham’s watches.

According to a long story in Hodinkee — a website devoted to all you’d ever want to know about luxury watches — the Westporter was an American hero.

“His name means little to those outside the highest echelons of motorsport and aquatic racing,” Benjamin Clymer writes.

“But to those in the know, Briggs Cunningham and his collection of bespoke wristwatches are downright legendary.”

Cunningham’s place in horology (the art of making clocks and watches — yeah, I looked it up) is secured by his ownership of 3 Patek Philippe watches.

Briggs Cunningham's least expensive watch.

Briggs Cunningham’s least expensive watch.

All are stainless steel. (He chose that design over gold because he was a “highly active, top-tier athlete.”)

Two are unique commissions designed especially for him.

The other — created in 1949 — is still in mint condition. It sold last year for about $100,000.

The 1463 chronograph.

The 1463 chronograph.

That’s chump change compared to Cunningham’s 1463 chronograph. Made unique by its black dial with luminous markers and hands, it has achieved “mythical status since first appearing on the market,” Clymer writes.

Cunningham wore it in a photo with driver Phil Hill. They’re examining the Westporter’s Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing — the 1st one ever delivered commercially.

That combination of watch and automobile “has long made him an icon to me,” says Clymer.

That watch is on the market now. It can be yours for $1.5 million.

Briggs Cunningham, his watch, race car driver Phil Hill, and the 1st Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing ever.

Briggs Cunningham, his watch, race car driver Phil Hill, and the 1st Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing ever.

But even that is a drugstore Timex compared to Cunningham’s 1526 perpetual calendar watch.

“It is just one of just two perpetual calendars to be made in steel, and the Arabic markers are covered in black lacquer. How incredible is that?” Clymer asks.

The 1526 perpetual calendar watch.

The 1526 perpetual calendar watch.

Apparently, quite incredible. One of the most beautiful watches ever made by Patek Philippe, it sold for $3,956,159 in 2008.

The buyer: Patek Philippe itself.

I can’t imagine I’ll ever write another “06880” post about watches.

But something tells me I’ll keep discovering interesting tidbits about Briggs Cunningham, for years to come.

(Hat tip: Peter Tulupman)


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Rummaging Through A New Sports Attic

If you’re like many Westport families, your house is filled with things your kids have grown out of, moved on from or otherwise discarded: Clothes. Toys. Sports equipment.

Greg DiLenge can’t unclutter your home of clothes or toys. But those too-small skates, extra lacrosse sticks and unused skis?

Take ’em from the basement to the attic. The Sports Attic.

Sports AtticThat’s the name of his new business, across from the train station at 26 Railroad Place.

He’s still buying “quality secondhand sporting equipment.” He’s in the midst of a soft opening — but he offers cash on the spot.

Or you can check out the amply stocked shelves, and buy gear — inexpensively — for your kid who may (or may not) end up loving a sport.

Growing up, Greg did. “To me, sports have always evoked a sense of responsibility,” the Philadelphia native says.

“They taught me the value of working with others. Sports encouraged a sense of self. I love the camaraderie of playing sports, and am in awe of the discipline required to be an elite athlete.”

But he knows not everyone will reach that goal, or wants to.

He knows too that not everyone can afford sports equipment.

As a kid, Greg loved hockey. But there was not enough money for both him and his brother to play. So they flipped a coin. Greg lost, and got basketball. His brother went on to play hockey at Penn State.

Greg cheered him on. But he always wondered, “What if…?”

For many years, Greg worked traded commodities in New York — while looking for a lifestyle change. His uncle started a new and quality pre-owned sporting goods store in Westchester over 15 years ago. The business model attracted Greg.

Now — with his 1st child due later this month —  Greg is ready to make that leap. It’s the perfect time to launch a new business aimed at helping kids.

Greg DiLenge, in his Sports Attic.

Greg DiLenge, in his Sports Attic.

“We want to be more than a store,” Greg says. “We want to connect with families, schools, camps and local sports organizations, to collaborate and help each other.”

His goal is to provide “an interesting alternative for acquiring sports equipment.”

Though Greg loves all sports, he has a soft spot for hockey and lacrosse. Both are expensive — and can be daunting for parents who don’t know if their children will follow through.

Greg has reached out to major vendors, amassing “starter” kits to help soften the sting on wallets.

His narrow shop is rapidly filling with sports gear. His goal is to turn it over rapidly — buying good-quality equipment from parents whose kids have outgrown or discarded it, then selling it to others whose kids are just starting out.

And when those youngsters move up or on — well, Sports Attic will be there for them too.

 

Cole Dickinson’s Baseball Career Is A Cakewalk

Three years ago, Westport’s all-stars electrified the town with a great run to the Little League World Series championship game.

Among their many fans was Rick Dickinson. A huge baseball fan himself (and former high school state champion), as the owner of Great Cakes Rick knew many of the players. Their parents bought Rick’s great cakes to celebrate birthdays, and Rick chatted with them about their sons’ achievements.

Many of those players and their families — all of Rick’s customers, really — knew his son Cole too. The little kid was there behind the counter during busy times, helping his dad.

Great Cakes closed just a few months after Westport’s World Series thrill.

But Rick is still baking locally — and Cole has turned into a baseball star himself.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

The 12-year-old is a 3rd baseman on the New Milford Pride. His team recently won the New England regional championship, and is headed to the Cal Ripken World Series.

It’s set for July 29-August 6, in Aberdeen, Maryland. Cole’s first game is Saturday, July 30 against the Pacific Southwest team, from Hawaii.

(It’s worth noting that in the final inning of the regional final, the score was 9-9. The bases were loaded, with 2 outs. Cole’s hit won it.)

All of Westport — especially those former Little Leaguers — wish Cole and the New Milford Pride good luck at the Cal Ripken World Series.

Win or lose, we’re sure they’ll celebrate their week with plenty of great cakes.


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Guess Who Came To Dinner At Bridgewater Tonight?

A) Donald Trump
B) Hillary Clinton
C) Barack Obama
D) The Chinese Olympic swim team

Answer:

Gym Closes; Beloved Yoga Teacher Goes Too

Alert “06880” reader — and local author — Dalma Heyn writes:

I love yoga. But I don’t love practicing it in gyms—after Zumba classes in meat-market cold rooms with sweat-soaked floors; rooms with no yoga props, but with the sound of heavy metal pumping in tune with those pumping iron.

But then not long ago, into the New York Sports Club in Westport walked a 22-year-old yoga teacher named Julian Arias. Twenty-two! Julian calmly turned off the air-conditioner, and proceeded to show us how to forget we were in a gym not by telling us to forget it, as though it were easy and morally correct to do so by just meditating on warmth,  but by spending an hour with him and witnessing his gentle, knowledgeable, experimental teaching of this ancient practice.

Julian Arias

Julian Arias

Soon his classes grew: Older men with no experience; young women with lots of it; teens, athletes, all came to experience this gifted teacher transform a gym into a studio.  “In the 30years I’ve been doing yoga, I’ve never found someone so in tune,” says Morgaine Pauker. “He’s the best.”

He was trained, as many fine yoga teachers have been, at Kripalu, in Lenox, Massachusetts. But his knowledge of anatomy is extraordinary, so he expertly departs from the familiar so that we feel what the movements were designed to do many thousands of years ago—and to do for us, right now. “I’ve never been in his class when he hasn’t done something new: He taps into places in my body and mind that I was unaware were so tense,” says Eileen Winnick.

His gentle riffs on traditional postures are like those of a jazz musician who knows the melody in his bones but whose soul impels him to explore other ways of expressing it.  We leave, this motley crew of Silver Sneakers and our grandkids, the inflexible and the balletic, athletes and klutzes, feeling wonderful. And also feeling united–which is, after all, what “yoga” means.

“He absolutely has changed my perspective,” says Laurie Vogel. “I live every day in the day—and I’m much more productive.”

Cindy Gates calls him “our therapist.”

It’s clear that our town is losing 2 gems at once: a lovely little gym that was free for many of us of a certain age, and a gifted young man born, as he puts it, to teach yoga.

Basketball Blues End Soon

It’s been a while since there was a hoops game at Compo.

But the reconstruction of the 2 basketball courts is nearly complete. This was the scene yesterday:

Basketball court - Compo

The courts have a long history. The first one — built in the late 1950s — was the brainchild of Albie Loeffler and Paul Lane. The Staples High School basketball head and assistant coach, respectively, saw the court as a way to keep their players active in the off-season — and a way to run a Fairfield County league for the Wreckers and their foes.

The court became a community effort. Gault and Kowalsky donated materials and labor.

The 2nd court was built later. It’s been a year-round favorite for generations of basketball players, of all ages.

And even more generations of Canada geese.

John Miller: One More For Rio

Sunday’s “06880” post about Westporters’ NBC Sports/Rio connections missed one very important name.

John Miller is chief marketer of the network’s Olympic coverage. He’s in charge of making sure American eyeballs are glued to the correspondents who live here (and elsewhere).

Miller is no stranger to the task. This is his 12th Olympics.

And he’s no slouch. On Thursday, he receives the Clio Sports’ Stuart Scott Lifetime Achievement Award.

John Miller

John Miller

Miller has been with NBC since 1982. His entertainment marketing chops include “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers,” “Family Ties,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Seinfeld,” “Frasier,” “Friends,” “E.R.” and “Mad About You.”

He helped coin the “Must See TV” campaign, recently named one of the Top 11 of all time.

Most recently he was chief marketing officer of their Sports Group.

At this stage, he told Adweek, awareness is higher than for the 2 previous Olympics, in London and Beijing. He credits NBC’s marketing — but also acknowledges publicity about the Zika virus.

Miller can’t control insects. But he handles every other aspect of NBC’s Olympics sports marketing. If he succeeds, Rio will be this summer’s “must see TV.”

 

 

Westporters Will Be Prominent At Rio Olympics

Westport may not have any athletes competing at this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

But our town will be represented, just the same.

In typical fashion, we’re all over the media — on camera, and behind the scenes.

Four Westport residents will play big roles as commentators.

Rebecca Lowe

Rebecca Lowe

Rebecca Lowe hosts her 2nd Olympics for NBC, following her debut at Sochi in 2014. She’s well known as the 4-year host of NBC’s Premier League soccer coverage, including live pre- and post-match shows from the Stamford broadcast center.

Paul Burmeister will announce water polo. He’s an NFL studio host and play-by-play announcer. Right now he’s in Europe, covering the Tour de France.

Rob Simmelkjaer also heads to Rio, reprising his 2012 role as MSNBC studio host. MSNBC will carry men’s basketball, beach volleyball, rugby, soccer, volleyball, water polo and more. Currently senior vice president of NBC Sports Ventures, he’s also a member of Westport’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Dave Briggs will be back in Stamford, making his Olympic debut hosting tennis on Bravo. He’s currently a host and anchor for NBC Sports Group, working on a wide range of sports including “NASCAR America” and NHL coverage.

Jeff Clachko — NBC Sports Group’s senior vice president for ad sales — will also be in Brazil.

If you’re going to Rio — for work or pleasure — please let us know. And if you’re headed there as an athlete, we really want to hear from you!

NBC Sports Group

 

New York Sports Club Exercises Its Right To Close

New York Sports Club — the popular Compo Shopping Center place to work out, after noshing at nearby Gold’s — will close July 31.

They did not renew their lease. Whether they faced an increase or not is unclear.

Of course, there are plenty of other New York Sports Clubs in the area:

NY Sports Club

And lots of other gyms too.

(Hat tip: Bruce Schneider)

Seniors, Y Tussle Over Silver Sneakers

Silver Sneakers is an insurance benefit included in more than 65 Medicare health plans. For a fee to a for-profit company called Healthways, seniors can visit fitness and wellness centers. Medicare and private insurers call it “preventive medicine.”

Silver Sneakers logoOver 13,000 participating locations nationwide offer all basic amenities, plus group exercise classes geared specifically toward “active older adults.”

The Westport Weston Family Y is not one of those locations. According to alert — and angry — “06880” reader David Meth, every other Y in Fairfield County is.

Meth provided the names of over a dozen seniors who would like our Y to include Silver Sneakers as part of its membership program, and introduce more  programs specifically for seniors.

Meth believes the Westport Y views older members as not a good business model.

He says that CEO Pat Riemersma told him a program like Silver Sneakers would bring in too many seniors. Part of the reason, he says, is that Riemersma told him of an agreement with the Planning and Zoning Commission that limits the total number of members. Meth says that Riemersma said the Y “needs to understand the trend before signing this type of agreement” (like Silver Sneakers).

A "First Friday" koffee klatch, organized by the Y's Aqua Fitness group.

A “First Friday” koffee klatch, organized by the Y’s Aqua Fitness group.

Feeling that seniors are less valued than younger families, Meth combed the Y’s website looking for senior programs. He found a “gratuitous” photo on the mission statement page, of seniors having lunch. There also is a senior aquatics program.

Of course, Riemersma told him, seniors are invited to participate in classes and programs open to all Y members.

“Yes, get on the same floor with 20-30-year-olds and try to keep up,” Meth replies.

“That’s it. Not another program dedicated to seniors: no fitness programs, no yoga, Pilates, weightlifting, walks in the beautiful woods, etc., just to name a few that are absent. Not even a link or page for seniors to direct them to the one program available.”

Meth is upset too about the special monthly fee of $57 for seniors. He says that is “double the price of any other local fitness center.”

YMCA logoRiemersma replies: “Silver Sneakers is not a business model recognized by the national YMCA. It’s run by a for-profit entity. Seniors pay a fee to Healthways, and Ys get reimbursed based on the number of visits by an individual. We are a cost-driven organization.”

Regarding Meth’s assertion about the P&Z stipulation, Riemersma says, “We are limited to the number of members, but it has nothing to do with seniors. We want to stay within the agreement.”

She says that financial assistance is available to everyone — including seniors who cannot afford the reduced rate.

A seated yoga class, at the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

A seated yoga class, at the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Riemersma vigorously denies Meth’s assertion that the Y does not value seniors.

“We serve all members, regardless of age,” she says. She cites programs like Senior Fridays, pickleball and chair aerobics, while pledging to do a better job of publicizing senior offerings on the website.

And, she says, “many members are actually offended by the phrase ‘active older seniors.'”

She says she would love to have a face-to-face or phone conversation about this with Meth.

He counters that he will communicate only by email.