As Newport, Rhode Island’s Ida Lewis Yacht Club prepares to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its signature late-summer distance race, it also takes time to remember its namesake—the real life Ida Lewis.
Once hailed as the “bravest woman in America,” Lewis tended the Lime Rock Light Station that was located on the site of the club’s current water-bound headquarters from 1957 to 1911. During that time she saved no fewer than 18 people by rowboat in the course of a number of different rescues—an accomplishment memorialized in the 18 stars on the Ida Lewis YC burgee.
According to the club, she became light keeper when her father, Capt. Hosea Lewis, fell ill. Among her many duties early on was rowing her younger siblings to and from shore so they could go to school.
As for the Ida Lewis Distance Race itself (ildistancerace.org/2014) this year’s start is set for August 15 and will again include four different courses to accommodate the various boats taking part. As the club likes to say, the overnight event is “not too long, not too short,” making it a great late-summer adventure for East Coast sailors of all backgrounds.
Photos courtesy of Ida Lewis YC