Another One Bites the Dust
Published on January 3rd, 2017
A question posted on the Scuttlebutt Facebook page, ‘Is the Super 12 thing still happening?‘, had been on our mind too. The short answer is no, it’s not happening. But when something made as much noise as this project, a degree of closure in full view is necessary.
The project was led by Tom Ehman, whose involvement with the America’s Cup began in 1980. Tom is also the Golden Gate Yacht Club Vice Commodore, a role he has continuously held since 2011. Tom wore many hats during the 34th Match in 2013 for the Defender, but now was hatless. Worse, his Club – the official Club of the Defender – had lost sight of the event after it moved from San Francisco Bay to Bermuda.
Ehman sought to change the view
In May 2015, Ehman announced his idea to launch a new international regatta to be sailed annually on San Francisco Bay, to begin in July 2017, in an updated version of the 12- Metre class. Ehman recruited his media pals to promote the concept, and he aggressively utilized social media to keep air in the balloon.
His vision was to use the history of the America’s Cup, and specifically the golden years of the 12- Metre, to offer stability and style to his event. He promised prize purses, television coverage, nationality rules, and managed class care. But he called his 65-footer a Super 12, which soon ran afoul with the International Twelve Metre Class Association (ITMA).
His event website was misleading, stating in places the boat to be used would be a 12 Metre, while elsewhere saying the Super 12 would resemble a 12 Metre from the waterline up. Photos of 12-Metre activity were used, but the Super 12 was promoted to be significantly faster. Said ITMA president Dyer Jones, “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.”
By May 2016, the gap between publicity and product began to widen. The event name had changed, and the size and scope had been downsized. The timeline for 2017 competition was teetering. But the first challenge was also announced, though skeptics saw this as a promotional ploy. It came from a longtime San Francisco friend, albeit one interested in seeing the event on the Bay.
Then the wheels stopped rolling. The Super 12 logo was gone by June, replaced with a Super 65 version. Farr Yacht Design, which had been hired to design the boat, had pulled out. After receiving a deposit, the payment due at delivery of final lines was not forthcoming. By mid-summer, Westerly Marine, which had been retained as the builder, stopped waiting. Ehman, who chose not to comment for this report, stopped promotion in July.
Another idea bites the dust, but if anyone wants a completed Farr design for a 65-foot something or other, we know of one that seeks a good home.