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By David RakoffPhotographs by Catherine Karnow



Old money, new money—in Greenwich, Connecticut, millionaires are a dime a dozen.



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With its rolling lawns and elegant buildings, the campus of the Greenwich Academy is as imposing and beautiful as many full-blown universities. Founded in 1827, Connecticut's oldest school for girls, teaching preschool through grade 12, is a dream of academic girlhood. Even the lacrosse field seems an expanse of perfect, implausible green.
 
It is an implausible green, as it turns out. The grass is artificial, an indestructible carpet woven atop a bed of synthetic mulch. Reaching down, my fingertips bring up a fine trace of the "soil," a particulate mix of black rubber crumbs. A student walks along, singing a refrain of a song in French. Her lovely voice carries out over the field to a group of stretching athletes. I jump a few times on the ersatz turf and feel a springing weightlessness.
 
Perhaps this buoyancy is nothing more than the boundless sense of possibility brought on by the affluence that permeates this town. A scant hour from Manhattan by train, Greenwich, Connecticut, is synonymous with wealth in America. A particular kind of wealth; specifically, Old Money—in some sense older than the nation itself. When Paul Revere rode through in 1774 (a year before his famous ride), Greenwich was already 134 years old. Were he making the trip today, he would surely have traded in his nag at the Bentley or Porsche dealerships in town.

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Beyond the manicured lawns of Greenwich, Connecticut, lie the challenging waters of Long Island Sound—where amateur sailing is serious sport. Of the four private yacht clubs in Greenwich, the most competitive is Indian Harbor, which holds the Greenwich Cup and Gearbuster regattas.
 
About 80 boats compete in the six to fifteen-mile (10 to 25-kilometer) Greenwich Cup, which is jointly run with the Riverside Yacht Club each spring and fall. Even before the race begins, "it's intense," says Indian Harbor General Manager Tom Nevin. "Before the gun, the boats are all trying so hard to get into position—to get close to the starting line and in the best wind—that they sometimes hit each other."
 
Even more intense is the 46.5-mile (74-kilometer) Gearbuster Regatta, the toughest amateur race in Greenwich, and one of the most competitive events on the Sound. Held in blustery October, the Gearbuster got its name from the nasty, equipment-testing conditions that often await participants. In the 2002 Gearbuster, "we had 50 to 60 knot winds," says sailor George Schimenti, whose team took first in its division. "A lot of people dropped out—it was a rough race."
 
In Greenwich, plenty of competitors can afford to replace broken gear and soup up their boats. Skill may decide who finishes first, but all yachtsmen need to pay to play—often sinking millions into their boats. "It's a rich man's sport," says Schimenti, "and that hasn't changed since the 1800s."
 
Yet many Greenwich sailors hit the water seeking solace rather than the intensity of competition. "The real fact of the matter is," says Belle Haven Yacht Club member Cort Delany, "if you're in any kind of boat and you're a hundred feet (30 meters) offshore, looking back at the land changes your whole perspective. It's beautiful."
 
—Scott Elder
Did You Know?

Related Links
Town of Greenwich
www.greenwichct.org
Greenwich's official town site contains links to parks, birth records,
and lots of local information.

Greenwich Chamber of Commerce
www.greenwichchamber.com/
Look here to check out accommodations, restaurants, and local events.
Greenwich's calendar offers everything from classes on how to plant
bulbs in your garden to lectures by Madeline Albright.

Greenwich Time
www.greenwichtime.com
Check out the local news from the daily Greenwich Time.

Greenwich Magazine
greenwichmag.com
Greenwich magazine highlights the culture of Greenwich, and who knows,
it might feature an article on the latest celebrity to move to town.

Unleashed Adventures
unleashedadventures.com
Curious about the adventure-travel company mentioned in the article?
Look here to find "where Greenwich women trade in their Pradas and Lily
dresses for Tevas and Capilene long underwear for a week of adventure
in the world's most remote corners," according to founder Diane Terry.

Junior League of Greenwich
www.jlgreenwich.org/
Find out the latest happenings at the Junior League, cotillions and
otherwise.

Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich
www.hstg.org/
Greenwich's historical society offers information on historic
preservation, educational programs, and in-depth exhibits.

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Bibliography
Atwan, Robert, ed. Greenwich: An Illustrated History Special Millenium Edition. Greenwich Time and the Historical Society of Greenwich, 1999.
 
The Junior League of Greenwich. The Great Estates:  Greenwich, Connecticut, 1880-1930. Phoenix Publishing, 1986.
 
Mead, Spencer P. Ye Historie of Ye Town of Greenwich. Picton Press, 1992.
 
Richardson, Susan, ed. Greenwich Before 2000, A Chronology of the Town of Greenwich: 1640 – 1999. Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich, 2000. 

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NGS Resources
Weller, Anthony. "Faces of New England: A Place in History," National Geographic Traveler (April 2001), 98-99. 

Allen, Thomas. "Connecticut," National Geographic (February 1994), 64-93.

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