IYRS Gala, 700 Guests Strong, Raises Nearly $700,000 for Marine Training Programs

Mary Gillette, Maggie Vale, & Marilyn Kantor

Seven appeared to be IYRS' lucky number this year:   When guests arrived at the 14th Annual IYRS Summer Gala, sponsored by The Hilton Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and The Prestige Family of Fine Cars, the scene was pure glamour: gala-goers were ushered into a setting of elegant black and white on a long red carpet. But the outcome of the evening was more powerful than the shine and shimmer of a magical night in Newport, as guests helped to raise nearly $700,000 for IYRS educational programs, ensuring continued opportunity for students who want to use the training programs at this Rhode Island school as a gateway to skill-building, jobs, and careers. (And the 14th annual event is two times seven.)


“Students of all ages and backgrounds come to IYRS from all walks of life, but they all leave on a common path: using their high level of craftsmanship and technical skills to build successful careers,” said IYRS President Terry Nathan. “We are fortunate that our many supporters understand the important role that our school plays—both for our students in search of skills and opportunity, and for the region’s marine industry that relies on the talented workforce trained here at IYRS.”


Guillaume de Ramel & Abby Campbell-King

The Gala comes on the heels of a successful chapter at IYRS. Now with three full-time programs, IYRS graduated its largest class in the school’s history this June, including the first graduates from the new Composites Technology Program. Students matriculated into a tough job market, yet 85 percent of the students in this year’s graduating class have already secured jobs.

Molly and Guillaume de Ramel, residents of the school’s Lower Thames Street neighborhood, served as event co-chairs. The de Ramels have been raising their young family in the neighborhood during the time that IYRS transformed its historic mill from a derelict structure into a crowning center of the community. “IYRS has been a good neighbor to us,” said Guillaume de Ramel. “It was gratifying for Molly and me to see so many people come out and give back to an organization that has been such an asset to our community. We want to thank all the generous supporters and sponsors who made the evening such a great success.”


 The laden "goody" boat!

Live and silent auctions featured an impressive lineup of art objects, sailing opportunities, and unique travel opportunities. Stephen Lash, chairman emeritus of Christie’s Americas, presided over the live auction, which was held under the Gala’s big tent during a formal sit-down dinner. Popular auction items included a stay in a private villa in St. Barths and mega-yacht racing during the St. Barths Bucket Regatta, a Mediterranean cruise onboard the luxurious four-masted barque Sea Cloud, a seven-day charter on the classic 105-foot ketch Whitehawk, and a rare opportunity to join a South Atlantic expedition heading to the remote wildlife refuge of South Georgia. The largest ticket item was a reverse auction where dinner guests all had an opportunity to help equip the IYRS programs with the proper supplies, tools, and state-of-the-art equipment; that item generated a wealth of bids from the audience and a total of $77,000. (Here are those lucky sevens again!)


Allison & Bill Vareika with Congressman David Cicilline (c.)

The decor for the evening adhered to a Black & White Party theme—including much of the cuisine prepared by Blackstone Caterers, a black-hulled Beetle Cat restored by IYRS students, and a special exhibit comprised of work by the world’s leading marine photographers. Billy Black, Daniel Forster, Dan Nerney, Amory Ross, Cory Silken and Onne van der Wal each composed a single black & white shot that depicted their interpretation of the IYRS spirit—and their work ran the gamut from shots of the restoration of the 1885 Coronet to images that illustrated the beauty of sail. The photographers’ work was a part of the silent auction.


A strong lineup of sponsors joined title sponsors The Hilton Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and The Prestige Family of Fine Cars at the  Gala, including: the Argo Group, Brooklin Boat Yard, Jimmy & Minnie Coleman, Condé Nast Publications, Front Street Shipyard, Hinckley Yachts, Infante Construction, Migliaccio Consulting, Mt. Beautiful Vineyards, Northrop & Johnson, Rockport Marine, Rybovich Super Yacht Marina and Refit, ShowBoats International, and Jay & Brenda Wilson.


Couple wore period costumes



Seen at the Event were Congressman David Cicilline, Joe Dockery, Chuck Townsend of Conde Nast and wife Jill Roosa Townsend, Carol O'Malley and Nick Harry, Duke Steinemann,  artist John Mecray IYRS' Deirdre Opp, Duke Steineman, Maggie Vale, Clark Poston, Guillaume and Molly de Ramel, Richard and Barbara Bohan, Sandra and Roger King, Dyer Jones and Kimberly Skeen Jones, Jay Weibel, John MacGowan, and Jean di Bona.


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


Breathtaking photograph for auction

Onne van der Wal's image

Jill & Chuck Townsend, Elizabeth Sweet & Dan Nerney

"Screaming Sioux" shoes of the Lafayette Escadrille, from

Norman Prince, Guillaume de Ramel's great uncle

Greeters with champagne cocktails

David Cicilline with Mary Gilbane

Paul Harden smiles with Sandra King

John & Sandra Conolly

Donald Pizinger & Jean DiBona were colorful

The aft of a spectacular dress

Discussing a silent auction bid

Buck & Linda Margold

"Mast of Eleonora", Oil painting in auction

Jay Weibel & Sara Hiebner

The crowded cocktail hour

Walking to the dock in the evening

Jim Mattingly (of Allied Marine, you know), artist John Mecray 

& Donald Tofias

Dawn Speros, Scott Mawhinney & John MacGowan

Melanie & Duke Steineman, Donald Tofias & Clay Deutsch

Richard Bohan laughs with Dan Nerney

Roberta Dougherty, Stevie Giacalone, Leslie Hogan,

Kim Chandler, Daniel Forster

Dyer Jones in swellagant black tie

Guests at the vivid cocktail table

Mary McGeough, Eloise Tamer & Mary Arnold had fun

The restored Beetle Cat

Peter & Alexandra Cummiskey


Kristin Parella & Kip Robbins


Jordan Thomas & Alex Westin


Carol O'Malley & John Mecray at dinner


IYRS supporert with Nick Harry


Joe Dockery with Dr. Buzz Scholfield


Electronic bidding update screen


Mark Watson of IYRS & John Hamilton Melges


Jazzy Jeep conveyance


After dinner setting


Elizabeth Bergman, Emily Perkins, Margaret Davies


The dance floor went psychedelic


IYRS the beautiful!


The restored Beetle Cat


Caitlin Hill & friend


Glenn & Ani Walters enjoy the party


 A nautical starfish hair clip


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