Weatherly Wins The Opera House Cup

For: International 12 Metre Assn and 12 Metre Yacht Club, Newport Station

August 21, 2019

Weatherly Wins The Opera House Cup

By Gary Jobson

Weatherly (US-17) sailing at the Opera House Cup, Nantucket, August 2019

Weatherly sailing downwind at the 2019 Opera House Cup, Nantucket, MA. | Photo Courtesy: Karen Ryan Photography

As each classic wooden yacht passes Brant Point Lighthouse at the entrance of Nantucket’s Great Harbor a large crowd of spectators and a fleet of Rainbows watch with intense interest. Every one of the racing yachts has a unique story. For the crews, it’s an uplifting moment as countless pictures are snapped and friendly cheers erupt. This was the scene aboard the 1958 built, successful America’s Cup defender, Weatherly (US-17) on Sunday morning, August 18, 2019. A total of 55 beautiful yachts were headed to sea for the start of the 47th running of The Opera House Cup.

Many great yachts including; Gleam (US-11), Black Watch, Owl, Valiant (US-24), Heritage (US-23), American Eagle (US-21), Brilliant, Escapade, Fortune, and High Cotton have won this prestigious trophy. Weatherly was a co-winner with Heritage in 2001, which seemed like ancient history to Weatherly’s owner, George Hill, and skipper Elliot Gewirtz. I was on board as tactician along with 12 other enthusiastic crew. The anticipation around the waterfront was high, but there was a problem – no wind. This is a rare issue off Nantucket. Only once (in 1988) was a race cancelled due to a lack of wind. Principal Race Officer, Hank Stuart, kept the competitors informed about the ongoing delay. After nearly two hours the wind seemed to fill from the southwest and Stuart commenced the starting sequences for the six classes of yachts.

The wind was light for the first four classes, and they made little progress on the three-leg course. Only three 12 Metres were in Class 3. Weatherly had a one-boat length lead over Valiant skippered by Gary Gregory with tactician, Robbie Doyle. And then a miracle took place.

Onawa (US-6) recently won the Vintage Division at the 2019 12 Metre World Championship in Newport, RI

Seen here crossing the finish line at the recent 12 Metre World Championship in Newport R.I., Onawa (US-6)  finished second overall in the Vintage Division at that regatta. | Photo Courtesy: SallyAnne Santos

Just as Weatherly, Valiant and a 1928 vintage twelve, Onawa (US-6) crossed the starting line the wind filled in at 11 knots. We were sailing fast and rapidly making up time on the boats that had started earlier. George Hill, remarked at that time, “This could be good for the 12 Metre Class.”

Just one year earlier 8 of the top 10 finishers were 26 foot long Alerions, originally built by the great Nathanael Greene Herreshoff in 1912. The name “Alerion” is a tribute to the majestic eagle. All eleven Alerions would finish in the bottom half of the fleet this year, which reaffirms that the wind can be fickle and even capricious at times.

Weatherly slowly gained a length on Valiant as both twelves rolled past Onawa. About half way down the first leg a smaller classic yacht was right in line with Weatherly’s course. The question was whether to try and pass to leeward or to sail over the top. The danger of passing to leeward was getting blanketed by the leading boat while the other problem would be if the leeward boat decided to luff up the windward boat and prevent (or slow) the pass. It was a tough choice. I noticed the skipper of the leading boat continually looking back. I had a gut instinct he was spoiling for a fight. I thought a luffing match would be disastrous and could cause us to lose valuable ground to all our rivals. So, we took the lower course and passed to leeward. Valiant, on the other hand, decided to pass to windward and sure enough the leading boat went into a full luff mode and Valiant was forced off her desired course. From our vantage point it was a thing of beauty to watch as we stretched our small lead to four boat lengths. A few minutes later we heard on the VHF radio that the race committee had hoisted Code Flag Sierra at the first mark, which meant the racecourse was shortened and the race would finish there. Weatherly crossed the line 19 seconds ahead of Valiant and the two 12 Metres ended up first and second in the fleet. Onawa crossed the finish line 3 and half minutes later and placed third in the fleet. It was a good day for the Twelves, a happy moment for Elliot Gewirtz, the incoming commodore of the Great Harbor Yacht Club, and George Hill who now had his first outright victory in The Opera House Cup.

Weatherly's Opera House Cup winning skipper Gewirtz and owner George Hill

Weatherly’s 2019 Opera House Cup winning skipper Elliot Gewirtz and owner George Hill. | Photo Courtesy: George Hill

“It’s fun when it all comes together”, said George Hill, Weatherly’s owner, skipper and guardian since 1986. “The wind Gods cooperated with the 12mR Class by sending in the SW sea breeze as we approached the starting line. We then got a great start and were able to hold Valiant off as the pressure built into the teens, and before long we were doing mid nines. Gary made the right call in getting separation to leeward from a gaffer that we were passing, while Valiant decided to go above them. We still owe that skipper a beer for taking them up and costing Valiant a couple of boat lengths. Knowing that all the classes that started before us had at least some light NW wind to contend with, I didn’t want to jinx our luck by mentioning that we had a chance at the overall win until late in the race. My biggest worry on that account was actually the schooners, which should have sailed above their ratings with a solid breeze on a reach. We were fortunate that the wind filled in when it did, but I’ve been on the wrong side of that scenario enough times to say “so what? I’ll take the win!”

It has been quite a summer for the 12 Metre Class with 22 of these classics racing in the World Championship in July off Newport, R.I. I am not sure if the sailors who won the America’s Cup aboard Weatherly in 1962 ever imagined their yacht would be still be competitive 57 years later, but it is a tribute to the enduring legacy of these special yachts.

 

Olympic Medalists at 2019 12 Metre Worlds

Editors’ Note:

For Media Credentials, sign up here
To receive the 12 Metre Worlds blog, sign up here
To subscribe to 12MYC E-Newsletters, sign up here

Olympic Medalists Grael and Bank to Battle Head-to-Head at 12 Metre Worlds

NEWPORT, RI (January 23, 2019) – Brazil’s Torben Grael and Denmark’s Jesper Bank, who have eight Olympic sailing medals between them, will face off in the 2019 12 Metre World Championship, joining sailing royalty from around the globe for the largest-ever gathering of 12 Metres in the U.S. Scheduled for July 8-13 in Newport, R.I. the 12 Metre Worlds is hosted by Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the International Twelve Metre Association (ITMA) America’s Fleet and the 12 Metre Yacht Club and takes place on the same waters where the America’s Cup was held in 12 Metres from 1958 to 1983, adding further historical significance to this fleet racing competition planned for two dozen teams representing seven countries in four divisions.

Italy’s Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada fashion group and primary backer of the Challenger of Record (Luna Rossa) for the 36th America's Cup, will join five-time Olympic Medalist Torben Grael aboard Kookaburra II (KA-12) at the 2019 12 Metre World Championship. (Photo credit Carlo Borlenghi) Sailing aboard Legacy (KZ-5) will be three-time Olympic medalist Jesper Bank. (Photo courtesy Jesper Bank)

Italy’s Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada fashion group and primary backer of the Challenger of Record (Luna Rossa) for the 36th America’s Cup, will join five-time Olympic Medalist Torben Grael aboard Kookaburra II (KA-12) at the 2019 12 Metre World Championship. (Photo credit Carlo Borlenghi) Sailing aboard Legacy (KZ-5) will be three-time Olympic medalist Jesper Bank. (Photo courtesy Jesper Bank)

Grael, winner of five Olympic medals (two golds and two bronzes in Star class and one silver in Soling class) will skipper Italian Patrizio Bertelli’s KA-12 Kookaburra II in the seven-boat Grand Prix Division while Bertelli’s second boat, US-12 Nyala, will defend its World Title from Barcelona 2014 in the four-boat Vintage Division.

“I am looking forward to some action in these beautiful and historical boats and to sailing them in a special place like Newport,” said Grael, whose past 12 Metre experience includes winning the 1999 12 Metre Worlds in Saint Tropez with KZ-7 Kiwi Magic (also competing in the Grand Prix Division here) and sailing Nyala in the America’s Cup Jubilee in Cowes in 2001.

And while Grael adds relevant 12 Metre experience to his accomplishment of being one of the most successful sailors in Olympic history, he nevertheless has enormous respect for Bank’s sailing accomplishments. “I know Jesper well; we have sailed Solings against each other on many occasions. He is a great sailor.”

Bank has won three Olympic Medals (two golds and one bronze in Soling class). At the Worlds, he will serve as tactician aboard KZ-5 Legacy (formerly Laura) while his close friend Thomas Andersen (Kerpeminde, Denmark) takes the helm.

“It was Thomas’s idea to come,” said Bank, adding that Andersen crewed for him during the ’84 Olympics and went on to helm many campaigns. “We grew up sailing Optimist Dinghies against each other in Fredericia, so it is a long, tested friendship. His father owned a 12 Metre, so that was part of his childhood, and Newport for us is such a legendary place for 12 Metres….”

Bank has campaigned for the America’s Cup twice, in 2003 with Victory Challenge and in 2007 with United Internet Team Germany. When asked which experience – America’s Cup competition or Olympic sailing – will better serve his participation in the 12 Metre Worlds, he explained: “The way I see it is the fleet racing in Olympic competition is more tactical and valuable coming into the 12 Metre Worlds, whereas America’s Cup match racing experience is not as relevant.”

Clockwise from left: 12 Metre sailor preparing sails (Photo credit Richard Schultz); KZ-5 and KZ-7 at the 2012 12 Metre North American Championship; 2014 Worlds fleet in Barcelona (Photo credit SallyAnne Santos/Windlass Creative)

Clockwise from left: 12 Metre sailor preparing sails (Photo credit Richard Schultz); KZ-5 and KZ-7 at the 2012 12 Metre North American Championship; 2014 Worlds fleet in Barcelona (Photo credit SallyAnne Santos/Windlass Creative)

Legacy has been chartered for the two weeks covering the 12 Metre Pre-Worlds Regatta (July 6-7) and the Worlds. “When we get here, it will be our introduction to sailing a Grand Prix 12 Metre. None of us has ever sailed one; it will be a steep learning curve.”

It is expected that Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada fashion group and primary backer of the Challenger of Record (Luna Rossa) for the 36th America’s Cup, will join Grael’s team aboard Kookaburra II. The rest of Grael’s team will consist of sailors from past Luna Rossa America’s Cup campaigns (2000 through 2015), while Mauro Pelaschier, skipper of the Azzurra America’s Cup campaign in ’82, will skipper Nyala with some original Azzurra sailors and ex-Luna Rossa sailors aboard. Kookaburra II and Nyala will arrive in Newport near the end of June to compete in the Pre-Worlds and will sail in the “12 Metre Jubilee” at the New York Yacht Club’s 175th Anniversary Regatta (July 15-20) after the Worlds.

Competing 12 Metres (to date)

The 12 Metres are divided into divisions based on when they were built: Grand Prix (for 12 Metres built in 1987, winged keel), Modern (1967-1983), Traditional (1958-1966) and Vintage (1907-1958). Grand Prix, Modern and Traditional divisions mostly represent 12 Metres built for America’s Cup competition, while the Vintage division represents those built prior to the Cup’s 12 Metre era and when 12 Metres held a place in Olympic history.

Grand Prix Division

US-42 America II, New York Harbor Sailing Foundation, New York, N.Y.

US-46 America II, New York Harbor Sailing Foundation, New York, N.Y.

KZ-7 Kiwi Magic, Johan Blach Petersen, Arhus, Denmark

KA-12 Kookaburra II, Patrizio Bertelli, Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

KA-15 Kookaburra III, Maurizio Vecchiola, Morrovalle Macerata, Italy

KZ-5 Legacy (nee Laura), Jesper Bank, Denmark

KZ-3 New Zealand, Gunther Buerman, Highland Beach, Fla./Newport, R.I.

Modern Division

KA-5 Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia

KA-10 Challenge XII, Jack LeFort, Jamestown, R.I.

US-26 Courageous, Ralph Isham/Steve Glascock/Alexander Auersperg/Ward Marsh/Arthur Santry, Newport, R.I.

US-33 Defender, US Merchant Marine Academy

US-30 Freedom, Charles Robertson, Guilford, Conn.

US-22 Intrepid, Jack Curtin, Toronto, Ontario/New York, N.Y.

K-18 Lionheart, Harry Graves, Grand Isle, Vermont

K-22 Victory ’83, Dennis Williams, Hobe Sound, Fla./Newport, R.I.

Other potential competitors:

US-27 Enterprise – likely

US-24 Valiant – possible

Traditional Division

US-21 American Eagle, Bob Morton/Cindy DeLotto, Newport, R.I./Edgartown, Mass.

US-16 Columbia, Kevin Hegarty, Boston, Mass.

US-18 Easterner, Scott Bernard, Annapolis, Md.

US-19 Nefertiti, Sears Wullschleger, Sarasota, Fla.

US-17 Weatherly, Jay Schachne, E. Greenwich, R.I.

Vintage Division

K-17 Blue Marlin, Henrik Andersin, Kotka, Finland

US-12 Nyala, Patrizio Bertelli, Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

US-6 Onawa, Earl McMillen, Newport, R.I.

N-11 Vema III, Vema Syndicate, Oslo, Norway

During the Worlds and the Pre-Worlds, most of the fleet will be berthed at Fort Adams where visitors will be able to view the yachts before and after racing. A large on-water spectator fleet is expected, and land-based spectators can catch the fleet sailing to and from the race course at vantage points along the shores closest to Narragansett Bay’s East Passage, including Fort Adams, Beavertail Light and Castle Hill.

The 12 Metre World Championship is sponsored by Helly Hansen Newport, while Official Logistics Provider is Sevenstar Yacht Transport.

For more information visit https://12mrworlds.com/ or contact Peter Gerard at pgerard53@gmail.com.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. #12mRWorldChampionship, @12mRWorldChampionship

(end)

ABOUT THE 2019 12 METRE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

The International 12 Metre Class’ 2019 World Championship will be held in Newport, Rhode Island (USA) from July 8-13 and hosted by the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and the 12 Metre Yacht Club. It will be the largest-ever gathering of 12 Metre yachts in the United States with at least two dozen boats from seven countries expected. International teams comprised of elite sailors, including America’s Cup veterans and Olympic medalists, will represent such countries as Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway and the United States. The 2019 12 Metre World Championship fleet will span the years 1928 -1987, include seven America’s Cup defenders and challengers, and be sailed on Rhode Island Sound, the site of nine America’s Cup competitions from 1958-1983. www.12mrworlds.com

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL 12 METRE CLASS

The 112 year-old International 12 Metre Class encompasses a living history of racing yacht design by the world’s foremost naval architects including Olin Stephens, Clinton Crane, William Fife III, Philip Rhodes, Johan Anker, Ben Lexcen and more who pushed their designs to the very limits of innovation. The resulting boats represented the pinnacle of yacht development from 1907-1987 for the highest levels of international sailing competition– the Olympic Games (1908-1920) and the America’s Cup (1958-1987). www.12mrclass.com

CHARLIE MORGAN’S HERITAGE: 1970

Photos & Captions by: Stephen Lirakis, Historian

Williams & Manchester Shipyard, Heritage's 1970 home

Williams & Manchester Shipyard, Heritage’s 1970 home

1970 was a very active year for me. After returning from Nationals at the completion of my college sailing career, I joined the crew of that year’s Bermuda Race winner Carina. After that, it was time to find a job! Paul Coble offered me a position on Heritage‘s shore team and I joined a number of my former college sailing competitors on the crew.

Heritage on hydraulic lift
Charlie Morgan not only designed, built and skipped Heritage (US-23), he also built the sails! Morgan was the first to install a hydraulic lift in order to dry sail his wooden 12 to minimize water-weight gain. Unfortunately, Heritage suffered from the same malady as Valiant (US-24). The trend was to continue increasing displacement particularly aft, remember the famous bustles? Even Intrepid (US-22), re-designed by Brit Chance had moved in this direction.
I was recently asked why I do not have more photos from 1970. Well one day upon Heritage’s return to the dock after racing, I set down my camera to handle her lines and never saw that camera again. –SL.