Wings Team Visits 12MYC Newport

Last evening, Commodore and Kate Gubelmann hosted an impromptu cocktail gathering at the 12MYC Newport Station to meet 12mR Wings (K-15) co-owners: Philipp Skafte-Holm, Jens Harder, Thomas Ahlstrøm and key crew members Peter Kampmann, Victor Skafte-Holm, Brit Lilja and Anna Klingspor. The Wings team is visiting Newport, racing the X-boat Foxtrot at NYYC Race Week and gathering logistics information re: the 2019 12mR World Championship to convey to their fellow Baltic fleet members.

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A Tale of Two Boats

by Dennis Williams

My fascination with 12 Metres began in the mid ‘70’s in Marblehead (MA)  when Courageous (US-26) and Independence (US-28) were preparing for the ’77 America’s Cup. Just standing on the deck of Courageous at the town landing was a thrill, knowing I’d never sail a 12mR… but it was okay to dream…

Victory '83 (US-22) and Courageous (US-26) cross gybes at the 2016 12mR North American Championship

Victory ’83 (K-22) and Courageous (US-26) cross gybes at the 2016 12mR North American Championship.

Fast forward 30 years. Roseanne and I were off for a week of cruising and en route from Nantucket to Edgartown (MA). As we rounded the northern tip of Chappaquiddick Island, we spotted a number of large boats racing around the buoys. Closer inspection revealed they were 12mRs. We watched the racing for a few minutes and then headed into the harbor. Later, we watched them raft up at the Edgartown Yacht Club. It was an impressive sight! In the morning, we decided that a closer look was in order. Uh oh…..the flame that was started in the ‘70’s was starting to burn a little brighter. Perhaps we should buy a 12mR?

We started talking with Jim Gretzky about 12mRs. Roseanne and I had seen Defender (US-33) many times as we drove past Cracker Boy Marina in Riviera Beach where she had been sitting on the hard for many years. Jim had been the project designer for the boat when she was built back in ’82, so she quickly moved to the top of the list. We looked at the boat, met the owner and tried hard to make a deal, but to no avail. That was the end of the Defender story…. for then. Stay tuned, she makes another appearance later in this story.

Jim activated his 12mR network and another great boat popped up…Victory 83 (K-22). She had been in a boatyard in Cogolin, France for several years. Roseanne, Jim and I packed our bags and headed to France to take a look. We asked Ian Howlett, Victory’s designer to meet us there. We found Victory in the back of the yard, under a tree, filled with leaves, rudder and tab frozen hard to port and not looking very attractive. Ian felt she was sound and pronounced her to be “shockingly original!” After some very lengthy negotiations with the Italian owner, we made a deal. Getting the boat out of France turned out to be a bigger adventure than we expected. The Italian owner had “hidden” Victory 83 in France and had not paid taxes.

Victory '83 2016 12mR North American Champion

Victory ’83,  2016 12mR North American Champion.

She had never been registered, so documentation with the USCG was an issue, etc, etc, etc. There are enough stories to fill 3 articles, but in the end we prevailed. We sold the spars to Doug Peterson for use in Gretel (KA-1) and the winches to the Italians so they could turn Azzurra (I-4) into a museum piece. Next we cut off the rudder because we could not free it up and did not want to go in circles. Finally, we put her on a freighter that was diverted due to a major storm, and eventually saw her again in Newport in November, 2007.

Victory 83’s  total refit began with a new cockpit and new everything else. This was done under Jim’s leadership with innovative ideas coming from many different people. In September 2008, we decided to race in the North American Championship even though the work wasn’t 100% complete. We wanted to get a measure of how competitive she was after all the work. We were very pleased with our performance in this first regatta. Since then, the Victory 83 team has done quite well with this fully modernized boat.

Defender racing at 2017 12mR North American Championship

Defender racing at 2017 12mR North American Championship.

In 2010, I got a call from the wife of Defender’s owner. Sadly, he had passed away and had left the boat to his daughter. She had no use for the boat and wanted to sell. I told he that I already had a 12 metre and didn’t need another, but I would take a look. In 2008, Defender had been rigged and launched and was anchored in the Intracoastal off Palm Beach. When I arrived at the boat, I noticed she was floating a little “deep”. A quick inspection revealed about 2 feet of water in the bilge and a very dead seagull in the cockpit! By comparison, Victory 83 was pristine when we found her compared to Defender. This was a real “fixer-upper.”

It was clear to me that Defender was either going to sink or get cut up and sold for scrap. Since there are so few of these great boats, Roseanne and I decided we needed to rescue Defender. I called her back and we made a deal. The first step was to have her hauled and shipped back to Newport. We pumped out the water on the tow to Cracker Boy. (We also got rid of the seagull!) When she was hauled, 2 years of marine growth appeared. That’s when I decided to go to lunch and let them deal with the mess. Two hours later, there was a big pile of barnacles, oysters and other unidentified things under the boat. Defender was shipped to Newport and the slow process of repair and updating began. We did confirm my worry that she was not far from sinking.

After the 2016 season, we made the difficult decision to leave Victory 83 in the shed and sail Defender in 2017. In the meantime, we had also picked up USA (US-61) to give us a few bits and pieces we needed to finish Defender. Prior to the first regatta, the crew had only sailed on the boat for an hour or two. They all thought I had gone mad and were debating which insane asylum would be best for me. After the regatta, they couldn’t wait for the next one and had lots of ideas on how to improve the boat. The season has been fun for everyone as we started the revitalization of a boat that hadn’t sailed let alone raced in 23 years! Initially, we had old re-cut sails from Victory and USA. For the North American Championship, we had a new main and 3 new head-sails. We also installed a new rudder, moved the wheels forward and the runners aft to create a more typical layout. The most important outcome from this last regatta is that we convinced ourselves that with these changes and additions, Defender is as competitive as Victory 83. The rescue mission started in 2010 has proven worthwhile.

2017 12mR North American Championship, photo by SallyAnne Santos

Dennis Williams at the helm of Defender, 2017.

As I  have said many times to many people, we are the caretakers of these great boats. Our obligation is to leave them better than we found them. We are looking for a buyer for either Victory 83 or Defender to continue building the Modern Division. Victory 83 is a fully modernized, proven winner. Just add water! Defender still needs a little more work to bring her to that same level of modernization and to optimize her competitiveness. We are also hopeful that the Grand Prix fleet will start to grow like the Moderns and that USA will be part of that effort.

 

I am confident new owners will have the same passion as the current owners and that the 12 metre era of the America’s Cup history will continue to prosper. – DW.

DEFENDER, US-33 Wins Queen’s Cup

Scuttlebutt Europe, July 18, 2017

Defender Proves Age Is Just A Number With Queen’s Cup Victory

Newport, Rhode Island, USA: Three and a half decades ago, the 12 Metre Defender left Newport under less than ideal circumstances, having failed in its campaign to represent the New York Yacht Club in the 1983 America’s Cup.

Defender, US-33 wins Queen's Cup

Photo credits: © Steve Cloutier, Stuart Streuli/NYYC

This summer, her return to competition has been an unqualified success. Earlier today, Dennis William’s skippered the restored 12 Metre to a win in the Queen’s Cup, knocking off a fleet of a dozen newer and more nimble raceboats to claim one of the New York Yacht Club’s most prestigious trophies.

The Queen’s Cup, which was first raced in 1953, is an anachronism. It’s just one race, rather than a series, and much longer than the traditionally hour-long windward-leeward races that are ubiquitous in modern big-boat racing. The 2017 Queen’s Cup course covered 6 legs and 16.2 miles, as the crow flies. The fastest boat took two hours and 11 minutes to complete the course; the slowest nearly three hours. There’s also the unique starting procedure, which allows each boat to pick it’s starting time within a two-minute window.

The 12 Metre class is seeing a resurgence of interest in advance of the class’s 2019 World Championship in Newport. — Stuart Streuli

1. Defender, 12 Metre, Dennis Williams, Newport, RI, USA
2. Temptation-Oakcliff , Ker 50, Arthur Santry, Oyster Bay, NY, USA
3. SPOOKIE, TP52, Steve & Heidi Benjamin, South Norwalk, CT, USA
4. Gladiator, TP52, Bernard Langley, Retford, Nottinghamshire, GBR
5. AFTER MIDNIGHT, CTM41, Paul Jeka, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, USA
6. Regina 2.0, Club Swan 42, Jacob Wallenberg, Stockholm, SWE
7. Entropy, Tripp 41, Patricia Young, Jamestown, RI, USA
8. Zaraffa, Reichel/Pugh Custom, Huntington Sheldon, Shelburne, VT, USA
9. Blazer (IRC), Swan 42, Christopher Culver, Newport, RI, USA
10. Cuordileone, Club Swan 50, Douglas Newhouse, Newport, RI, USA
Challenge 12, 12 metre, Jack LeFort, Jamestown, RI, USA , RET
Gold Digger, J 44, James D. Bishop, New York, NY, USA DNC
Stark Raving Mad VIII, C&C 30 OD, Jim Madden, Newport Beach, CA, DNF

Read more and view complete results here.

America’s Cup 12 Metre Freedom to Return to Newport

New Owner Preparing Historic Racing Yacht for Competition

NEWPORT, R.I. (February 16, 2017) – The 12 Metre yacht Freedom has been purchased by Charles A. Robertson (Guilford, Conn.), a well-known East Coast sailor who has been active in a number of America’s Cup and 12-Metre campaigns and is well known for skippering his Frers 75 Maxi Cannonball and a series of other like-named boats to victory in various one-design and offshore racing events.

Robertson, a former trustee of the New York Yacht Club, plans to race Freedom in the boat’s home waters of Newport, R.I. starting in June.  He will participate in the  International 12 Metre Class’s recently announced “Road to the Worlds” series that culminates in the 2019 12-Metre World Championship, which is scheduled to coincide with celebrations marking the 175th anniversary of the New York Yacht Club.

Historic 12mR yacht Freedom (US-30) newly faired and primed.

The 12 Metre yacht Freedom (US-30) has been bought by Charles A. Robertson who will make her race-ready for the 2017 sailing season.

Designed by Olin Stephens and constructed at Minneford Yacht Yard in City Island, NY, Freedom was the last yacht to successfully defend the America’s Cup for the New York Yacht Club by defeating Australia in 1980 in four out of five races. After the 1983 America’s Cup, she was sold to France where she stayed for many years before returning to the U.S. in 1999. Currently, Freedom is at Pilot’s Point Marina in Westbrook, Conn. where she is undergoing substantial work. Along with getting new sails, instruments and electronics, she will be newly painted to look similar to how she did in 1980.

“Olin was a dear friend of mine, and Freedom was the last 12 Metre he designed,” said Robertson. “He had a special affection for this boat, and so do I.” Robertson added that – like his past Cannonball campaigns – this one will involve a contingent of “young, enthusiastic sailors who are predominantly amateur.”

In the Road to the Worlds series, Freedom will sail in Modern Division (for 12 Metres built between 1968 and 1983) against Victory 83, Challenge 12, Lionheart and the only two America’s Cup yachts to win the Cup twice, Intrepid* and Courageous.

The Road to the Worlds schedule for 2017 starts with the Newport MetreFest, June 9-11, which coincides with the New York Yacht Club 163rd Annual Regatta.

To find out more about Freedom, including crew opportunities visit https://freedomus12-30.com/. For more information on the Road to the Worlds 2019, visit http://www.12mrclass.com/ or contact Peter Gerard at pgerard53@gmail.com. Follow the 12 Metre class on Facebook.

*Although she was built before 1968, Intrepid is still considered a Modern; Australia II, built during the specified period for Modern designation, is not considered a Modern.

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Twleve Metres race past Castle Hill

12 Metres off Newport, R.I. at the 2014 12 Metre North American Championship. (photo credit: SallyAnne Santos/Windlass Creative)

MEDIA CONTACTS: Barby MacGowan, Media Pro International, +1 (401) 849-0220; SallyAnne Santos, ITMA, +1 (401) 847-0112; Susan Whewell, Freedom,  +1 (203) 453-6800 x 351

 

Courageous Syndicate Interview

An interview with US-26 Courageous syndicate members, Ralph Isham, Ward Marsh & Stephen Glascock by Jamie Hilton