"Mastering the Craft", IYRS Annual Summer Gala, Raises $700,000

I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star
to steer her by.
      -- John Masefield


Mary Ann Bortell & Peter Hill

Guests Celebrate IYRS Milestone of 15 Years!


When Newport Seen arrived at Newport's International Yacht Restoration School  for its Annual Summer Gala, we expected a great party. But the sea of gala-goers gathered at this waterfront school for a reason  far more inportant than a good time:  to celebrate the craftsmanship of IYRS students and graduates and ensure continued opportunity for the generation to follow. By the end of the evening, guests and sponsors together had raised $700,000 for the school’s educational programs.

With a theme of “Mastering the Craft: Celebrating 15 Years of Excellence,” this year’s gala focused on the evolution of IYRS since the school’s first students walked through its doors in 1997. IYRS, a fledgling school with a handful of students,  has matured into a central player in the region’s workforce development with three full-time programs: Boatbuilding & Restoration, Marine Systems and Composites Technology; a fully restored historic Newport campus with a satellite campus in Bristol; and an international cadre of successful grads who have forged careers as craftsmen, skilled technicians and business owners. The celebratory evening was orchestrated so the story of the school and students was told through a film and exhibits.

Clark Poston & Rhonda Landers greeted guests

“Our goal this year was to focus on the students and their outcomes,” said Terry Nathan, president of IYRS. “We wanted to zero in on the core value proposition for supporting the school—and there is no better way than to hear students tell their stories, and to hear employers talk about why they hire our graduates.”

Event co-chairs Jamie Hilton of Newport,RI,  who also served as a title sponsor, and Pam Rorke Levy of San Francisco worked with IYRS to orchestrate an evening that gave attendees a deeper understanding of the IYRS mission. Scattered throughout the waterfront grounds of the gala were micro-exhibits that chronicled the school’s history and student achievements. In a short film produced by Pam Rorke Levy, guests heard directly from students about the value of an IYRS education and the opportunities their training opened up to them.

Mary Gillette & John Mecray

“Our gala committee had a lofty goal: to bring the same standard of excellence that the school embodies and that IYRS students demonstrate in their craft to the planning of this event,” said Co-chair Jamie Hilton. “There were a lot of moving parts to the evening, but thanks to our committee of extraordinarily gifted and talented volunteers we were able to achieve that goal.” Hilton made special mention of committee member Terry Lanza, whose experience and input proved invaluable.

An opening cocktail party held in the shadow of the school’s 1831 mill building was followed by a sit-down dinner inside the gala’s big-top tent. A lively auction, conducted by Stephen Lash, chairman emeritus of Christie’s Americas, was a highlight of the evening. It is no ordinary auction!  Top-earning items included: a Mediterranean cruise from Palma onboard the Jongert-built, 96-foot luxury performance sailboat Scorpione Dei Mari; a ten-day expedition to the Galapagos Islands, complete with knowledgeable guides and plenty of opportunity to explore the islands in small boats; and a five-day cruise onboard the beautifully restored 85-foot motor yacht Enticer, designed by John Trumpy. But the most rapid-fire bidding started when IYRS Chairman Dooie Isdale stepped up to the podium to conduct a reverse auction for Equipment, Tools & Technology for IYRS programs; this single item garnered bids totaling over $90,000.

The silent auction table

This year’s gala marks a changing of the guard for IYRS, as Isdale hands the helm to trustee Joe Dockery. Isdale has already served on the Board for over a decade, including five years as chairman, and will remain a Board member for another term. Under his leadership, the school completed the restoration of its historic Newport campus, merged into the school the Museum of Yachting, launched two new accredited programs, and achieved student job-placement rates in the 80th percentile.


At cocktails and dinner, we saw artist John Mecray and wife Mary Gillette, Joe Dockery, recovering from a barbecue singe, Ally Coulter, who hosted a Ralph Lauren table, Lisa Oliver, Chuck Townsend of Conde Nast and wife Jill TownsendCarol O'Malley and Nick HarryClark Poston and Maggie Vale, Paul Harden, and  Kimberly Skeen Jones.

The gala crowned an entire weekend of activity for the  maritime community—including day sails aboard historic vessels such as the 126-foot steam yacht Cangarda and the 104-foot Whitehawk, and a talk and demonstration at the restoration site of the 1885 schooner yacht Coronet. On Saturday morning, a crowd of onlookers watched as Dr. Robert McNeil and his restoration team installed a new transom on Coronet and talked about the challenges of restoring the 133-foot yacht.


A picture of the Coronet, which is undergoing restoration at IYRS


The evening was sponsored by The Hilton Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and the Prestige Family of Fine Cars, and many others.



IYRS Gala Co-chairs Jamie Hilton of Newport, who also served as title

sponsor of the event, and Pam Rorke Levy of San Francisco helped orchestrate  an evening that told the story of the school through film and exhibits, and ended in dancing and revelry.





For more information about IYRS and its educational programs, visit www.iyrs.org


IYRS Chairman Joe Dockery

Regarding a craft

Harry Anderson, Co-chair Jamie Hilton & Alex Hilton

Jessie Kendall & Brenda Wilson in prints

Guests on the IYRS campus

John Sawicki, Ellen Barnes, Joe  Paolino  & Jay Serzan

Tom Quinn looking nautical

Sara Harrell & Amy McMillan

Jay Serzan & Terry Nathan of IYRS

Trina Santry & Bebe Fisher

Event Co-chairs Jamie Hilton & Pam Rorke Levy

Ferrucio Rossi Ferretti

The best stern of the evening on Gabi Schillinger

Jacqueline, Joe & Lianne Paolino

Kimberly Gonzalez & Ed Roberts

Pretty dress

Shoulder ahoy!

Andrea Orchard, Pila Pexton & Bruce Brackenhoff

Chuck Townsend, Kimberly Skeen-Jones & Andrea van Beuren

Antonio Aponte, Ally Coulter, & Frank Barbosa

Susan Stautberg

Rob O'Donnell, Holly Bannister & Doug Newhouse


John Fisher & Joe Dockery


Waiter with blue eyes!


On display in the IYRS building


A cozy niche for the after dinner dancing


Richard Carbotti, of Perfect Surroundings


The crowd was overflow


Ally Coulter aft


Brian Cunha & Ally Coulter


Chuck & Jill Townsend, Marcus Talloway, Tim Warburton &

Lee Scura



Donald Tofias wore lobster blue



 Nick Harry & Carol O'Malley


A smashing gobo inside the dinner tent


Elegant tabel settings


Ralph Lauren Home table


Guest with table host Paul Harden of the RIEDC


Brian Cunha & Becky Schenker


Sherry Brite brightened up the tent


Melanie Delman & niece Chelsea McWillie


Pamela O'Connor in pink, at the Ralph Lauren table



Screen of IYRS students at work


Using technology to the fullest at IYRS


IYRS Gala Co-chairs Jamie Hilton of Newport addressing the guests



Stephen Lash, chairman emeritus of Christie’s


Guest,  Ally Coulter & Frank Barbosa


Senate Candidate Barry Hinckley said hello


Antonio Aponte & Barry Hinckley


Mr. Hinckley speaking iwth Ally Coulter



Kimberly Skeen Jones & friend at the silent auction

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