Twelves racing in Newport highlight the New York Yacht Club’s 175th Anniversary Celebration preview video:
Twelves racing in Newport highlight the New York Yacht Club’s 175th Anniversary Celebration preview video:
Our October 2017 E-Newsletter is packed with news including:
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our September 2017 E-Newsletter is packed with news including:
Click through to read it here.
by Dennis Gunderson
Recently under new ownership, Enterprise US-27 begins a new phase of her life. The new team is very excited about the boat and the upcoming years of competitive racing in the 12mR modern fleet! What a terrific opportunity to bring back such a purebred as Enterprise into racing shape to compete for the 2019 World Championship!
Enterprise was built in 1977 as a continuation of the Courageous model. Designed by Olin Stephens at S&S, she was initially skippered by Lowell North of North Sails. She was beaten by Courageous in the ’77 trials, but then continued on in 1980 and 1983 to serve as a competitive trial horse for the Freedom and Azzura campaigns. Enterprise has long been an admired design, and has served her crews well throughout many years of competition.
The new team consists of some great friends and partners from the Newport area who are very excited to see Enterprise being taken seriously as a contender for the 2019 12mR World Championships. The new owner is an experienced and passionate yachtsman who has put together an equally passionate and dedicated group of sailors, designers, and engineers each sharing a long history in the 12mR community. The afterguard of the team consists of three individuals who shared in the early campaigns with Enterprise in 1977 and 1980. Steve Casella of NEB in Portsmouth, was an original builder of the yacht in 1977 at Minneford Yacht Yard. Tom Rich, also of NEB, was an original crew member when the boat was campaigned in 1977 by Lowell North, and Mike Toppa of North Sails who sailed on-board in 1979-1980 when she was a trial horse for Dennis Connor’s Freedom campaign. Paul Buttrose, former President of the ITMA, has thrown his hat in the ring as Program Consultant, and David Pedrick of Pedrick Yacht Design has agreed to bring his valuable insight from years of 12mR experience into the fold for Enterprise. This tight nucleus of 12mR knowledge and experience are being joined by the current S&S design team based here in Newport and led by chief designer Brendan Abbott.
The team is thoroughly enjoying the experience as we bring together the same design and construction offices that helped to create Enterprise in the first place. Just like the S&S team had done in ’77, Brendan Abbott and his team of designers are working hard to optimize her hull characteristics and ensure that she is as fast as she can be. Utilizing her original plans from the S&S archives, we are able to look at each and every design change made to Enterprise from her beginning in 1977; as all major design changes have been documented by S&S. A 3-D hull scan was created and has been analyzed alongside the originals to see where changes were made and what might need to happen to bring her, in some cases, back to a previous shape. No rock will be left un-turned, and we are all very excited to bring Enterprise back from a modified racer-cruiser to a proper 12mR racing yacht.
While we are working alongside Enterprise’s original design office, we are also excited about working closely with her original sail designers at North Sails. Lowell North had originally meant for Enterprise to be at the forefront of sail and rig design in 1977. He tested many different designs and concepts on board Enterprise throughout the ’77 Defender Trials. Mike Toppa was a part of the boat’s history throughout those early campaigns, and he is again helping to ensure that Enterprise is well canvased. The team intends to utilize the North 3Di technology for its new suit of sails in 2018.
The team at New England Boatworks will be helping the new team to transform Enterprise back into fighting shape from years as a racer-cruiser platform. In 2000 Enterprise emerged from refit in Europe as a compromise 12mR, complete with a removable cruising interior and an engine. To accommodate this, her original cockpit was removed and replaced with a smaller cockpit and larger deck. These additions to the yacht have since been stripped away, and plans are being made to re-install a functional 12mR racing cockpit and fore-deck. The engine has been removed along with associated hardware. Any and all creature comforts have been stripped away and set aside. In addition to a proper racing cockpit, we can expect to see Enterprise sporting a new mast designed by Jim Gretzky. Many other elements of her sailing hardware will need to be replaced or refitted once the cruising outfit has been thoroughly executed.
The Enterprise team is most excited about such a tremendous surge of enthusiasm for 12mR racing in Newport! This community has had such an illustrious past as a formula-design fleet, and to be an active part of that history is an exciting prospect. The team hopes to not only participate in the coming years of heightened competition, but to do so at a level commensurate with the care and quality that these fine yachts deserve!–DG.
NEWPORT, R.I. (July 24, 2017) – The waters off Newport, R.I., were alive with 12 Metres when the Newport Trophy Regatta took place over July 21-23. The event, hosted by Ida Lewis Yacht Club, reflected the excitement growing for the 12 Metre World Championship set to take place here in 2019 as part of the New York Yacht Club’s 175th Anniversary Regatta. The historic fleet numbered ten boats, all collecting points in the global ROAD TO THE WORLDS Waypoint Series. The closely matched New Zealand (KZ-3) and Laura (KZ-5) sparred in the Grand Prix division, while the uber competitive Freedom (US-30), Defender (US-33), Challenge XII (KA-10), Intrepid (US-22) and Courageous (US-26) took off the gloves in Modern Division and the beautifully spirited Columbia (US-16), Weatherly (US-17) and American Eagle (US-21) battled it out in Traditional Division.
The Grand Prix Division completed two races on Friday, while the other divisions completed only one in light breezes that just wouldn’t hold for a full day of racing planned “up the Bay.” Saturday was worse when sailors floated for six hours “outside” on Rhode Island Sound waiting for wind that never came. Sunday, however, made it all worthwhile when four races were completed in upper Narragansett Bay, this time in a northeasterly that began with wind speeds in the mid-teens and then diminished to 7-8 knots as it clocked right.
“I think we went through our entire sail inventory, putting up the light #1, the heavy #1, the #3, a couple of different spinnakers…it was fun!,” said Gunther Buerman, the owner/driver aboard New Zealand. Although New Zealand beat Laura in all six of its races, Buerman said it wasn’t easy. “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart, and we got lucky a couple of times. KZ-5 was every bit as fast as us today, and sailed really well.”
In the Modern fleet, Challenge XII held commanding leads in all but the last of its five races, when Courageous won. Accumulating six points for its final standing, Challenge XII finished eight points ahead of Courageous, which was tied on point score with Defender. Challenge XII, along with Freedom and Defender, are newly revived 12 Metres, their owners inspired by the promise of intense competition in 2019 when 12 Metres from across the globe are expected to come to Newport for the Worlds.
Challenge XII’s owner/driver Jack LeFort attributed the boat’s performance to crew work and great sails, among other things. “We’ve done some nice work modifying the boat, getting it ready, but we think there’s more room for improvement. By the time the Worlds come around, there are going to be more teams stepping it up, so we need to make sure we continue to move our game up as well.” Historically, Challenge XII was a contender in the 1983 America’s Cup series. “It’s Ben Lexcen’s last boat,” said LeFort. “He’s probably smiling somewhere right now. It’s got great bones, it’s fast off the breeze. People thought it was a light-air boat. We don’t think that; we just think it’s a really good boat.”
In Traditional Division, Columbia won four of five races, leading over Weatherly and American Eagle, which finished second and third, respectively.
Previewing the social events on tap for 2019, a Celebration Dinner for the 50th Anniversary of Intrepid’s first America’s Cup victory and the 40th Anniversary of Courageous’s second America’s Cup victory was held on Friday at the International Yacht Restoration School’s Restoration Hall.
Resurgence of Newport’s 12mR fleet is top story in today’s Scuttlebutt (7/21/17), “Twelves Are Alive and Well”, written by Jim Gretzky.