Newport – After a postponement ashore and then on the water this morning, a light breeze filled in nicely for the greater part of two races on Rhode Island Sound at the 12 Metre World Championship hosted by Ida Lewis Yacht Club and organized by the International Twelve Metre Association’s (ITMA) Americas Fleet. The five-day event started today amidst much anticipation and excitement for the spectacle of such a large gathering of 12 Metres on one stage. Racing were 21 of the historic yachts, with many of those having once sailed in America’s Cup competitions here in Newport from 1958-1983 (Modern and Traditional Divisions); some having been built with winged keels specifically for the 1987 Cup (Grand Prix Division); and some dating as far back as the 1920s (Vintage Division). A 12 Metre Spirit Division also sailed.
Today’s first race, on a twice-around windward/leeward course of nearly 7 miles, was completed in 9-11 knots, but during the second race, sailed in a similar manner, the wind died enough so that the Race Committee felt it prudent to shorten course.
Courageous (US-26), topped the Modern Division on a tiebreaker with Challenge XII (KA-10), and did so even after a premature start in the second race. Famous for being one of just two 12 Metres to have won the America’s Cup twice (1974 and 1977), Courageous is owned by a Newport syndicate comprised of Ralph Isham, Steve Glascock, Alexander Auersperg and Ward Marsh and skippered by Arthur Santry. Gary Jobson, who won the ’77 Cup aboard Courageous as tactician for Ted Turner, is filling the same role at the Worlds and today had some interesting decisions to make.
“The good news is everybody had a good attitude; no one got down when we were over the line early,” said Jobson. “It was a day of picking wind shifts, and we got some good ones. We passed a couple of boats on each leg to win.”
Isham, who sails on the boat with the other syndicate members, said it helped to be behind to see what was happening to others. “With the shifts it could have been anybody’s day, but Jobson made some great decisions and got us right back into the race. In the first race on the upwind leg we couldn’t separate ourselves from Challenge XII and Victory ’83 (K-22). We finally got around Victory ‘83, but Challenge XII won by 25 seconds”
The Danish team aboard Legacy (KZ-5), skippered by Thomas Andersen, won both its races today in Grand Prix Division.
“It definitely was not easy,” said Legacy’s tactician Jesper Bank. “In the first race we were leading around the marks but not by much. In the second race we were with New Zealand (KZ-3) and Kiwi Magic (KZ-7) on the left and Kookaburra II (KA-12) was on the right, so we knew early on that we needed to win the group on the left. We were the first boat to come in from the left but Kookaburra II was slightly ahead. Then we took advantage of a massive wind shift on the downwind leg. When the wind died on the second beat and the Race Committee finished us at the top mark, we were lucky enough to be leading.”
American Eagle (US-21) topped the Traditional class while Onawa (US-6) and America II (US-42) won the Vintage Division and 12 Metre Spirit Division, respectively.
In reflecting on the overall picture, Gary Jobson said, “It’s two races down and seven to go, but the coolest thing is having all these 12 Metres sailing together. It’s the biggest thing in the U.S. in sailing this summer.”
Tomorrow’s races start at 11 a.m.