BY KIPPER LANCE
Is there anything greater than a Chicago summer’s day spent sailing on Lake Michigan? I doubt it. I am certain the guests on the Grand Vizier yacht would all agree.
The owners of this elegant 43-foot Beneteau (French-made) sailboat, Brian White and James Kinney, Chicago’s most dapper men about town, invite 10-20 of their dearest friends out on Lake Michigan every weekend during the months of July, August, and September. Friends say this sortie en bateau is the highlight of the Chicago summer.
While many of its neighboring boats sport names rely heavily on puns, this ship possesses a moniker that is slightly more elusive. The beloved yacht’s name is a mysterious one: the secret meaning eludes all but a select few Chicagoans.
Those lucky ones in the know arrive at The Chicago Yacht Club, which was founded in 1875 and best known for organizing the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac each July. This storied club also hosts dozens of other regattas throughout the boating season.
Brian and Jim greet guests on board with sumptuous breakfast fare: imported clotted cream and strawberry balsamic preserve provided by the caterer du jour, Jay Shindler from Catering Chocolate on Wells Street. The Bach Brandenburg concerto is played in the background while visions of yachting grandeur, à la Newport, Rhode Island fill the air, as Pimm’s Cups and Champagne are passed around. The music switches to mambo and Jimmy Buffet, then on to current hits.
Every detail of the day is closely watched by the hosts and their “boat butler” Lorenzo, who has been with the handsome duo for 11 sailing seasons and knows every guest by first name and their favorite drink order. Friends eagerly await Lorenzo’s signature fresh guacamole, which is followed by a delicious luncheon of chicken frisée salad, followed by the most decadent English sticky toffee pudding.
Captain Jim’s steady hand from over 30 years of sailing has the Grand Vizier in full control on Lake Michigan, with the Chicago skyline gleaming in the sunlight, dozens of boats sailing past, while the sails softly hum.
The Grand Vizier’s interior is very elegant, reminiscent of the Palm Beach Yacht Club with silver trays filled with cocktails, blue and white porcelain jars, and handsome vases filled with flowers and dozens of “yachty” pillows. Mementos from trips to Boca Grande, Nantucket, and Bermuda and most recently the Scilly Isles off of England are scattered around the boat.
While the tour of Navy Pier, sailing steps away from the famed carousel and endless attractions, included in the day’s voyage was enjoyed by all, none could deny the highlight of the day was the Champagne toast by the hosts, with Brian in his must-have for the summer: a “Bask Toweling Blazer” for après-swim. Grand Vizier caps were given out and were highly treasured! A dip in the cool lake water called out to the group and everyone reveled in the elegant splendor of the day aboard the Grand Vizier.
Peggy & Paul Bodine, Kipper Lance & Bud Hendrick, Daphne Strothman Halminiak, Lisa Malkin, Brian Kearns and Amy Moses, and Philip and Peggy Childs.