You would think that the man who is co-owner of North Marine Group (the $325-million sail manufacturing company for nearly every racing and high-end yacht on the planet) and has sailed in eight AmericaÂ’s Cups would chose a home right on the oceanÂ’s edge. But not Tom Whidden. For 22 years, he and his family have lived on waterfront property in Connecticut with a dock that leads to a small, peaceful estuary. As a fierce competitor who has been inducted to the AmericaÂ’s Cup Hall of Fame, Whidden chose to set up camp away from the hectic activity of his ocean life, though he keeps a motorboat docked nearby for a quick ride out to saltier stomping grounds.
Â—By, Nicole Vecchiarelli
YouÂ’ve had this home for 22 years. YouÂ’re obviously very attached. I grew up in Westport and I always admired Essex, being a sailor and someone who loves the
water and boating. The town reminded me of Westport in that there were fewer people as well as access to the waterfront. Just a quieter way of life in general.
How would you describe the setting? ThereÂ’s a natural channel where we are, so itÂ’s not noisy, but its fantastic for wildlife. ThereÂ’s every kind of bird known to man; we get eagles, ospreys, all kinds of hawks, swans, geese, every duck. ItÂ’s just amazing for anybody that likes bird life.
Being a sailor, would you have preferred to have the home directly on the ocean? I just like the water, so I love to be on the ocean or a river or an estuary. Some people may find endless water more tranquil and more desirable. But I find living in an area that is less ocean-like is more interesting. I like the activity of the wildlife with the ducks swimming around and the muskrats and the turtles. And I have easy access to the Connecticut River, The Long Island Sound, and the ocean.
How often do you take advantage of that? We keep a boat called an Edgewater
26 at the dock thatÂ’s right at our house. And we also have a 55-foot powerboat with a couple of state rooms in it and a nice galleyÂ—itÂ’s just a really great boat to get around in. Some people think that itÂ’s ironic that I have a powerboat with all the sailing I do, but it actually suits us really well. We can be on the water quickly and take a little cruise around with a glass of wine and a fishing pole, or go way down to the yacht club. Or weÂ’ll take the bigger boat to a cove thatÂ’s quite near here to have dinner and listen to music. We also have kayaks and a canoe. So IÂ’m not short on boatsÂ—we can
go anywhere we want. And we have a lot of friends that like to cruise around, too.
Like this weekend, weÂ’re going to Newport, which is about a three-hour trip on
our power boat.
How you would describe the feel of the house itself? The whole place was built around giving every room a view of the water. ItÂ’s very open, and weÂ’ve got a terrace in the back that we use a lot. And whatÂ’s cool is that every month here has a different look. In the winter, the cove ices over, so it doesnÂ’t have the vegetation like in the summer, obviously, but itÂ’s a really bright sunlit look and itÂ’s quite charming. You never tire of it.
Whidden purchased this home in 1988. It features four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, 2,600 square feet of living space, and sits on one acre of land in a quiet channel with direct access to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.