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A Connection for Historic 12 Metres Around the Globe
Courageous Wins Inaugural ROAD TO THE WORLDS Waypoints Series
NEWPORT, R.I. (August 29, 2019) – In the first-ever ROAD TO THE WORLDS Waypoints Series, it came down to the last day of the last regatta – the 2019 12 Metre World Championship held over July 8-13 in Newport, R.I. – to determine Courageous (US-26) as the overall Series winner. Introduced in 2017 to help build 12 Metre competition in the Northern Europe, Southern Europe and Americas fleets, the WAYPOINTS Series tallied scores posted by 40 12 Metres from nine countries in 28 regattas held in five countries over a period of three years. It awarded points for both participation and performance and the victor’s crown to the team that had accumulated the greatest number of points by the end of the World Championship. As for the secondary focus of the WAYPOINTS Series – to further the recognition of a global collection of heritage 12 Metres and the owners who are working to preserve their histories – it didn’t hurt that Courageous is perhaps the most famous 12 Metre in the universe.
Courageous, an Olin Stephens design launched in 1974, was the first all-aluminum hulled 12 Metre and the second 12 Metre to successfully defend the America’s Cup twice: in 1974, skippered by Ted Hood and, perhaps most famously, in 1977 when Ted Turner defeated Alan Bond’s Australia (KA-5) four races to zero in a best-of-seven series.
“We focused on the Waypoints Series by making sure we had a consistent crew, performing and doing well in as many regattas as possible,” said Courageous co-skipper Ralph Isham, who with fellow Newport co-skipper Alexander Auersperg and crew members Steve Glascock and Ward Marsh formed a syndicate 15 years ago to enter into a long-term lease of the yacht after it was donated to the Museum of Yachting. “It means a great deal to our crew that we performed consistently over many regattas in many conditions…light air, heavy air, varied wind…and with Challenge XII (KA-10) and Victory ’83 (K-22) always nipping at our heels.”
The Courageous syndicate members have been racing 12 Metres since 1999, when they initially gathered to sail Columbia (US-16), the first 12 Metre ever to win the Auld Mug, and prepare for the 2001 America’s Cup Jubilee in Cowes (the only gathering of 12 Metres larger than that at the 2019 12 Metre World Championship). “When we came back from Cowes, we rebuilt Courageous, and we’ve been sailing and working on her ever since,” said Isham, noting that a “total reset” overseen by Naval Architect David Pedrick in 2002/2003 put Courageous into “great shape and progressively made her faster and faster.” (Prior to the 2019 12 Metre World Championship, Naval Architect Jim Taylor collaborated with sailmaker and Courageous crew member Robbie Doyle to make further modifications to her hull, rudder and mast.)
“In the beginning, the boats in the Modern Division (for 12 Metres built between 1967 and 1983) were just us and two others – Intrepid (US-22) and Freedom (US-30) – but after Dennis Williams and Jack LeFort brought Victory ‘83 and Challenge XII to the game, it was very encouraging for other owners who wanted to step up,” said Isham. “We never imagined we’d have eight boats on the line in our Modern Division at the World Championship. It was amazing, a thing of beauty, so stunning to see.”
Significantly, five of the current crew of 16 aboard Courageous have won the “Auld Mug” at some point in their lives. Robbie Doyle and Gary Jobson, who serve as main trimmer and tactician, respectively, crewed in the same positions aboard Courageous in ’77. Jib trimmer Jon Wright sailed on three America’s Cup winners: Courageous in ’74, Freedom in ’80 and Stars & Stripes (US-55) in ’87. Navigator LJ Edgcomb crewed on Courageous in ’74 and ’77, and jib trimmer Stu Argo sailed on America3 in ’92.
The crew, which also included America’s Cup veteran Arthur Santry at the helm, contributed immensely to the boat’s impressive performance at the Worlds. Courageous tied on point score for second place with Enterprise (US-27); however, on a tie breaker she had to settle for third. (Jack LeFort’s Challenge XII won and was crowned the World Champion in the Modern Division.)
“We were happy we did well in the Worlds,” said Isham. “Would we like to have won? Sure, but winning the ROAD TO THE WORLDS Waypoints Series was a real sign of achievement for our crew. The series definitely served its purpose of keeping us motivated and connected with 12 Metre fleets around the world.”
The Waypoints Series Perpetual Trophy, donated by 12 Metre Yacht Club Commodore James Gubelmann, depicts the famous schooner America in great detail (both above and below the waterline), as translated by Pairpoint Glass Company.
The next 12 Metre World Championship is scheduled for August 16-23, 2020 in Helsinki, Finland.
12 Metre Americas Fleet
International 12 Metre Class
Media Pro Int’l
For: International 12 Metre Assn and 12 Metre Yacht Club, Newport Station
August 21, 2019
Weatherly Wins The Opera House Cup
By Gary Jobson
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.
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.
“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.