NEWPORT, RI—Eighteen people were disappointed and six left badly unsatiated Saturday when guests at the Newport Yacht Club's annual Harborside Regatta were served mahi mahi that one patron described as "still a little pink inside."
"It was most certainly not the best dolphin I've ever had," said shipbuilder J. Bradford Hunt, 51, of the undergrilled seafood dish, which was served near the conclusion of what another club member termed "an otherwise smashing regatta."
"I make no excuses," said club president Latrobe P. Chatterton IV at a hastily announced press conference yesterday. "Ultimately, the responsibility lies with me. I am submitting my resignation to the Board of Trustees, effective noon tomorrow, but I will continue to monitor the situation closely from my villa in Majorca."
Chatterton's wife Lydia was among the most seriously disappointed by the mahi mahi. Immediately after the meal, she was rushed by private jet to the Mojave Spa in Palm Springs, CA, where she was treated with mineral-rich natural mud baths. A spokesman for the spa described her prognosis as "hopeful."
The annual Harborside Regatta, which has long been one of the most important events on the Yacht Club's summer social calendar, was attended this year by more than 300 moguls, tycoons, dowagers, magnates and scions.
Chatterton described the Regatta-ending dinner "as a chance for the yachtsmen and -women to unwind from their day's rigors in a comfortable, casual atmosphere among their social peers." But at some point between the saffron, pork and caramelized-leek soup and the honey-glazed passionfruit sorbet, "something went terribly wrong."
"I could tell right away," said Amanda Worthingford-Wells, 25. "All the fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes in the world couldn't mask it. I tried to tell Daddy, but he had already taken a forkful and was knitting his brow in haughty chagrin... it was awful."
"It was a lovely day," recalled Blythe Harrison, 73, a matriarch of the Boston Harrisons. "We passed the time taking in the sea air and chatting, although some of the more sporting gentlemen engaged in competitive races that quite thrilled us all... We had only come to idle purposelessly. Then this happened."
This is not the first disaster to strike the Newport Yacht Club in recent years. A 1991 breakdown of the club-to-harbor jitney inconvenienced over 75 people, and in 1993, a fire killed a shoe-shine boy, leaving club members' loafers scuffed for six days.
Although the Yacht Club was open for members today, many stayed away. "I think there's a certain stigma attached now," explained one member."Also, today's the Pawtucket Dog Show."