12 Meter North Americans profile historic class
Two days of a northerly (first strong, then light) and one day of a building southwesterly put six 12 Metre yachts to the test at their North American Championships, which were held off Newport, R.I. over September 26-28. Gunther Buerman’s (Newport, R.I.) KZ-3 and Dennis Williams’ (Hobe Sound, Fla.) Victory ’83 defended their titles, respectively, in divisions for Grand Prix (yachts built for the 1987 America’s Cup) and Modern (yachts built from 1974 to 1983), while a third division for Traditional (yachts built from 1958-1970) was won by Anthony Chiurco’s (Princeton, N.J.) chartered American Eagle.
The long weekend started on Friday with three races held in 12-17 knots on Narragansett Bay in an area north of Newport’s Pell Bridge. On Saturday, the racing was again staged north of the bridge, but the race committee managed only a single race before having to call things off due to lack of wind. Sunday’s competition proved best and closest in nature to the America’s Cup racing that was staged here from 1930-1983 when three solid-air races were held “outside” on Rhode Island Sound to determine final victors. To top off the day and the regatta, a pursuit-style “bragging rights” race (not counted in scoring) brought the 12 Metres back to Newport Harbor to finish together in a show of colorful spinnakers off Fort Adams.
“Eagle started, then the Moderns started two minutes later, and then the Grand Prix division one minute after that,” said Victory ‘83’s Dennis Williams. “ We did a short upwind leg, then back to the committee boat, then a long downwind leg to the harbor. Everyone at Castle Hill got a good view; we were so close – trying to stay out of the tide – that we were almost dragging our boom on the rocks as we went by.”
Jeff Randall (Edgartown, Mass.), crew on American Eagle, said that because there were no other boats in Eagle’s class, the pursuit race was the only time the Eagle crew got to look back and see boats following them, but he wasn’t complaining. “There was a nice gesture to involve the only two wooden boats here in a race against each other when Intrepid challenged us for what they called the Maple Leaf Trophy.” Randall explained that after arbitrary handicaps were applied to American Eagle’s and Intrepid’s times, Intrepid “appeared to have won” the challenge in the end, but Intrepid’s owner Jack Curtin, in the spirit of the award, handed the trophy back over to Herb Marshall, Vice President of the 12 Metre Americas Fleet and owner of American Eagle, for safe keeping until next year.
“It’s all about fun and involvement,” said Williams, who works to recruit new 12 Metres into the fleet and says there is a plan afoot to bring the 12 Metre Worlds to Newport in 2017. (Williams won the 12 Metre Worlds when they were last held here in Newport in 2009.) “There are a lot of good 12 Metres out there that are available, but it’s a little like the chicken and the egg. This is not a J/70 where you buy the boat, put it in the water, put some sails on it and go racing. It takes a while to develop a 12 Metre program, so that’s why it’s good to have a plan for two to three years to get a new boat right and do events leading up to the worlds.”
The teams from Victory ’83, KZ-3 and American Eagle each were awarded the Gubelmann Trophy as winners of each class in the North American Championships. They also each were awarded the Ted Hood Trophy and received an estate bottle of wine from Coppola Winery for the highest points overall for specific regattas during the season. SallyAnne Santos, Secretary for the International 12 Metre Class was awarded the Ted Turner Trophy for her significant and lasting contribution to the 12 Metre class, while Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the Organizing Authority of the event, was acknowledged by Sailors for the Sea for running a Clean Regatta.
For more information: http://www.12mrclass.com
2014 12 Metre North American Championship
Grand Prix Division
1. KZ-3, Gunther Buerman, Newport, R.I., 1-1-1-1-1-1; 6
2. KZ-5 Laura, Kip Curren, Newport, R.I., 2-2-2-2-2-2; 12
1. Victory ’83, Dennis Williams, Hobe Sound, Fla., 3-1-2-1-2-1; 10 pts
2. Intrepid, Jack Curtin, New York, N.Y., 2-2-1-3-3-2; 13
3. Courageous, Ralph Isham, New York, N.Y., 1-3-3-2-2-3; 14
1. American Eagle, Anthony Chiurco (Princeton, N.J.), 1-1-1-1-1-1; 6
Report by Media Pro Intl. Photo by SallyAnne Santos.