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.
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.”
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.
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-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.
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.
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
Photos & Captions by: Stephen Lirakis, Historian
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.
The New York Times SPORTS, Monday, August 20, 2001
By Herb McCormick
COWES, England, Aug. 19 — Shortly before setting out today in its capacity as the official flagship for the America’s Cup Jubilee, America, the 130-foot replica of the schooner that won the first Cup race in 1851— was hailed by a local sailor passing by on a small sloop.
“Look at all the trouble you’ve caused us,” he yelled at the crew.
For British sailors, the main trouble with the America’s Cup is that, despite countless challenges in the intervening 150 years, they have failed to win it back.
But that did not stop the Royal Yacht Squadron, in conjunction with the New York Yacht Club, from organizing an ambitious Jubilee regatta to commemorate that first race in the same waters in which it was sailed.
And in cool, blustery conditions this morning on the Solent, the current-swept waterway that separates mainland England from the Isle of Wight, the racing started for more than 160 boats in 15 divisions.
Conspicuous by their absence, however, were the 36 yachts entered in the three marquee 12-Metre classes, and the nine boats scheduled to race in the International America’s Cup Class fleet. With a building breeze that leveled off at a fresh 25 knots with gusts over 30, the conditions were deemed too boisterous for the relatively delicate twelves.
As the day unfolded, it appeared that in the case of the 12-Metres, discretion may well have triumphed over valor. Some 22 yachts retired from the racing, many with blown-out spinnakers or damaged mainsails or jibs. In that respect, it was a good day to be a sailmaker.
But it was a trying day for crews of the 1937 Vintage Class entrant Havsoerven and the Classic division yachts Blue Leopard, from England and the recently restored New York 50, Marilee, sailed by the New York Yacht Club skipper Larry Snoden. Both Classic yachts sustained dismasting, and the latter will be sidelined for at least a day with a broken boom.
The 12-Metres wisely remain in port.
Clearly, many sailors found the white-capped, blue-green waters of the Solent to be testing. However, the crews of the J boats Endeavour and Shamrock V, and the all-out racing machines Stealth, Extra Beat and Mari Cha III relished the stiff southwesterly and roiled seas— at least for portions of the day— and put on a sensational show for the hundreds of spectator boats in attendance.
At the blast of the starting cannon positioned along the seawall fronting the Royal Yacht Squadron, the four-boat J Class was the first division to get under way. Setting up to windward of its competition, the green-hulled Shamrock muscled upwind to an early lead while Endeavour languished in fourth place.
When the yachts reappeared after rounding their weather mark, however, it was Endeavour— flying its big blue spinnaker emblazoned with white stars and pushing a mighty bow wave— that had taken the lead.
And that lead was sealed when, halfway down the run, Shamrock’s spinnaker exploded in spectacular fashion. Still, Shamrock held on for a second-place finish. Endeavour later blew out its chute, but not before opening a comfortable gap.
With its solid black hull and matching carbon-fiber sails, the aptly named Stealth flew up and down the race course, at times making speeds of 25 knots downwind. Though Stealth was the first around the track in its IRC Modern Division 2, on corrected time it fell to 11th place.
In the IRC Modern Division 1, the battle was between the six-spreader sloop Extra Beat, skippered by the America’s Cup veteran Dennis Conner, and the powerful ketch-rigged Mari Cha III, sailed by Robert Miller.
Conner had Extra Beat well positioned off the starting line and his cause was furthered when Mari Cha III was forced to change jibs midway up the beat, temporarily sailing without a headsail. At times exhibiting blistering speed, Mari Cha III still managed to overtake Extra Beat and record a first-to-finish in its class. But on corrected time, Extra Beat moved to the top of the division standing.
When, in the early afternoon, the tide turned and began to ebb out in the Solent, the wind-against-tide conditions turned the seaway into a minefield of standing waves. Not coincidentally, it was at this juncture that the worst of the sail and rig damage occurred.
Race officials are hoping for more benign weather on Tuesday, the 150th anniversary of the schooner America’s historical victory, when the fleet is scheduled to race around the Isle of Wight in a restaging of the contest that began the legacy of sailing’s oldest prize.