A Message from Jack LeFort, Vice President 12mR North American Fleet
Hello fellow 12 Metre Owners, Crew Members and Enthusiasts!
As a young kid watching these magnificent boats race in Narragansett Bay, I never dreamed that one day I would own KA-10 and have the joy of sailing in one of the most revered and iconic classes of this century. The past 3 years have been a blast!
As we move into 2020 and beyond our #1 commitment is to help get as many 12mRs as possible out on the water racing. Before I get into some key changes in the 12 Metre Yacht Club and North American fleet, I want to extend several well earned and sincere THANK YOUs.
First to Commodore James Gubelmann for building and stewarding the 12 Metre Yacht Club. Jimmy’s passion and commitment to 12mR racing here in Newport along with the invaluable talent and depth of knowledge of SallyAnne Santos, has created a communication and social foundation which will help springboard us to the next level of participation and enthusiasm for all things 12mR. We are grateful and enthusiastic that SallyAnne will continue her work with the NA fleet and 12MYC. She is an invaluable asset to our team. Jimmy and SallyAnne, Thank You for all your hard work theses many years with the 12 Metre Yacht Club.
Congratulations to outgoing N. American Fleet Captain, Peter Gerard and his incredible 2019 12mR Worlds committee at Ida Lewis Yacht Club for winning U.S. Sailing’s St. Petersburg Trophy for the best managed regatta of the year! This world-class event set the stage for a fantastic rebirth of the 12s here in Newport. Due to the overwhelming success last year, we are looking to host another World Championship in Newport in the near future. We hope it will be as well attended and fun as the last; way to go Peter and team!
Changing of the Guard:
We are very grateful to Commodore Gubelmann and Fleet Captain Gerard. Both are stepping down from their leadership roles with the 12mR Yacht Club and North American Fleet respectively, but have agreed to ‘stay near’ and ‘help out’ as we transition to a new organization model and management structure. With their departures we have retained a professional fleet manager as is done by other successful, sustainable fleets.
Given our vision and plans for the future we feel it is imperative that the North American fleet makes this commitment. So I am thrilled to announce that Linda Lindquist-Bishop has joined us as Fleet Manager and Executive Director of the 12 Metre Yacht Club. Linda represents what is terrific about our sport both on and off the water. She will be combining our fleet racing activities into the 12 Metre Yacht Club, which will bring new focus and opportunities in membership, events, participation and partnerships. Linda is our go to person for all your questions and ideas.I ask you to join us in welcoming Linda to our 12mR community.
2020 Racing and Boats:
The 2020 N. American fleet schedule, found here will feature 4 sanctioned events this season, including our North American Championship in late September. In addition to scoring on a boat-for-boat basis we will introduce a handicap system to give all boats the opportunity to be competitive and have the joy of winning. This handicap system is under development and will continue to be a work in progress. Our goal is to get as many boats on one starting line as possible. We are encouraging increased owner participation in the strategy and management of the fleet as we look to innovate and build on our current base of success.
After chartering a boat for the New York Yacht Club’s 175th Anniversary, we are thrilled to have Mr. Okura and his Sled team join the Newport 12mR fleet. Mr. Okura has purchased Freedom (US-30) and will balance 12mR racing along with his TP52 program in the Med. Mr. Bertelli and his team are currently giving Kookaburra II (KA-12) an upgrade and will be joining us on the water in June. We also welcome new owners to our strong charter fleet, comprised primarily of Traditional division boats; they are the backbone of 12mR experiences here in Newport. If you haven’t yet sailed on a 12, I encourage you to experience a day on the water on these boats. As Brad Read, afterguard crew of New Zealand, KZ-3 said to me once, “There is nothing like sailing these boats to windward in 12 knots– it’s just breathtaking.” A bucket list item for sure!
While we welcome new teams and revitalized programs – our hearts are heavy with the loss of Freedom (US-30) owner, Charles Robertson. Charlie exemplified everything that was good and right about our sport. He gave many sailors their first opportunities to compete in the big leagues; he was passionate about racing and the legacy of 12mR yachts, and he loved each day he spent on the water. Charlie will be greatly missed by all of us.
This is a tremendous building year for our 12mR fleet and community here in Newport!
In closing I want to thank everyone who is part of our history now… and into the future.
Vice President North American Fleet
Owner, Challenge XII (KA-10)