Leveraging Assets of a Previous Era

Published on January 31st, 2016

The plotting for a new international regatta, the San Francisco Yacht Racing Challenge, hopes to field a new class of one design 65-footers to be sailed annually on San Francisco Bay beginning in July 2017.

The boat has been named the Super 12, with event marketing aimed to rekindle the majesty of the 12 Metre era. However, while event organizers propose an updated version of the 12 Meter yacht, the International Twelve Metre Class Association (ITMA) has grown tired of how its history is being leveraged.

Here’s an excerpt of a recent letter from ITMA President Dyer Jones, sent to San Francisco Yacht Racing Challenge organizer Tom Ehman:

We have followed with interest your efforts to establish a new racing class in San Francisco conceptually modelled on the International Twelve Metre.

While we have no issue with the formation of such a class, the International Twelve Metre Class does object to your continued use of the heritage and history of our class in the promotion of your new one.

Further, we have registered with authorities our objection to your use of the International Twelve Metre Class Insignia. Such use is completely at odds with the mutual respect for each other that has existed between sailboat classes since the adoption of such insignia at national and international levels.

Since you have decided not to affiliate your new concept with the Twelve Metre Class, we demand that you and your agents immediately cease using the Twelve Metre in promoting your effort, and cease using the International Twelve Metre Class Insignia.

As I have written to you before, ITMA, our owners, and our sponsors do not wish to see our class, legacy, or brand diluted by your efforts. If your effort is worthwhile it should be able to stand on its own, not on the Twelve Metre Class.
Tom Ehman did not want to respond to Scuttlebutt’s inquiry on this matter but his organization did follow with a press release. Here’s an excerpt:

Britton Ward, the lead designer for the new Super 12 Class, says the racing yachts will sail on average one minute per mile faster than the International 12 Meter Class yachts that raced in the America’s Cup from 1958 through 1987. The Super 12s are a modern take on the classic 12 Meter yachts. A new, rule-legal 12 Meter has not been built in three decades.

“The Super 12s are one-design 65-foot monohulls designed by our team at Farr Yacht Design in Annapolis,” Ward said. “The Super 12s are an homage, a tribute, to the International 12 Meter Class, inspired by the elegance of their aesthetic. While a Super 12 will resemble a 12 Meter from the waterline up, the underbody and rig will be modern.”

There are some mixed messages. In one area of the San Francisco Yacht Racing Challenge website (below) it states the boat to be used will be a 12 Meter, while elsewhere claims the Super 12 will resemble a 12 Meter from the waterline up. Regardless, if the event seeks to create interest by leveraging assets of a previous era, perhaps a good start would be to harness the Corinthian attributes of that era too.


Editor’s note: With regard to the statement above that “A new, rule-legal 12 Meter has not been built in three decades”, a new 12 Metre was constructed by Robbe Berking Classics in Flensburg and launched in June 2015. Additional details A New Classic 12.


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