Whilst the America’s Cup was finishing up on the West Coast, vintage 12 Metres from the Cup’s Golden Era were gearing up on the East Coast to prove they still can steal a sailing show when it comes to grace, beauty and competition.
Dennis Williams’’ Victory ’83 (left) and Rich Moody’s Courageous in Modern Division at the 2013 12 Metre North Americans
The 12 Metre North Americans sponsored by Pine Brothers hosted six of the sleek Twelves sailing on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound over three days of racing (Friday, September 27 through Sunday, September 29), and it was clear for all who participated or simply caught a glimpse of the action on the race course or the docks at Bannister’s Wharf (where the fleet and teams congregated each morning and late afternoon, just as they did during Cups held here in the ‘70s and ‘80s) that the Twelves would forever proudly hold their place in history, not simply as chapters in a century and a half’s worth of tomes written about the pursuit of the Auld Mug but as living, breathing works of art, lovingly restored by owners who consider themselves privileged caretakers of the past.
'It was really special to have the 12 Metre North Americans follow the America’s Cup event,' said Dennis Williams (Hobe Sound, Fla.) whose Victory ‘83 (K-22) turned in a perfect score line over seven races to win Modern Division (for yachts built between 1974 and 1983), which also included John Curtin’s Intrepid (US-22) and Rich Moody’s Courageous (US-26). 'We were out practicing on the day of the last race, so we cut it short so everyone could watch the final race.'
Dennis Williamsâ€™s Victory â€˜83 won the Pine Brothers Trophy for overall best performance at the 2013 12 Metre North Americans
Williams commended the Race Committee from Ida Lewis Yacht Club for its management of spirited racing, which on Friday consisted of three races held 'up the Bay' in a perfect northerly of 11-18 knots, as there were high wind warnings for offshore.
'In the Modern Division, the racing was tight, as it always is,' said Williams, who was awarded the Pine Brothers Trophy on Sunday at the Prize Giving held at Ida Lewis, since his was deemed the regatta’s best overall performance. 'The gap between us and Courageous was three or four seconds in the first race; a bit larger in the second and third.'
Herb Marshall’s American Eagle (US-21), the only Twelve sailing in Traditional Division (for yachts built between 1958 and 1970), started at the same time as the Moderns. Though older than the others, the Eagle—built for the 1964 Cup Defense and famous as Ted Turner’s champion in distance races as far back as the ‘70s and in 12 Metre events as recently as last year’s 12 Metre North Americans—challenged the Moderns tactically, adding some close cross-tacking to the on-water ballet. (Turner, forever a fan of the class, supplied Bison meat from his ranch for the 12 Metre dinner on Friday night.)
On Saturday, the Twelves sailed offshore on the traditional America’s Cup course where the breeze was light despite predictions for a stronger northeast gradient in the open water. One long race provided the platform for an impressive come-from-behind win by Victory ’83, before the wind took a nap.
Dennis Williamsâ€™s Victory â€˜83 team (left), sailing in Modern Division, won the Pine Brothers Trophy for overall best performance at the 2013 12 Metre North Americans. Gunther Buerman, with Brad Read, led New Zealand to victory in Grand Prix Division.
'You had to stay in the breeze on this race,' said Williams. 'If you got in a hole, you were slow for a long time. We got rolled at the start by Intrepid, but were able to fight our way back and win the race.'
Though still shifty with varying pressure, Sunday’s breeze was better, and on the same course three races—the first two in 10-13 knots, the second in six to eight--wrapped things up.
Courageous and Intrepid took second and third, respectively, in Modern Division, while Gunther Buerman’s New Zealand (KZ-3), sailing in Grand Prix Division (for yachts built for the 1987 America's Cup), won all races against Kip Curren’s Laura (KZ-5).
The 12 Metre fleet berthed at Bannister’s Wharf during the 2013 12 Metre North American Championship
The Ted Turner Trophy, awarded to individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the 12 Metre class, this year went to three crew members who, according to president of the 12 Metre Americas Fleet Herb Marshall, 'have put their lives on the line for all, to allow us to race fast and free.' They were Tony Pierce, USMC, aboard Victory ’83; Sean Klaboe, US Army, aboard New Zealand; and James Heckman, USMC, who campaigned USA (US-61) last season before heading to Afghanistan.
Pine Brothers, makers of Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops, has come aboard as the 12 Metre America’s Fleet sponsor for 2013 after having sponsored the 12 Metre North Americans in 2011, 2012, and signed on again for 2013. The company’s unique 'soft drop' throat lozenge was first introduced in 1870 as America’s first-ever commercially produced cough drop and is a favorite of sailors everywhere. Pine Brothers reflects the passionate spirit shown by the 12 Metre fleet, which works to not only perpetuate 12 Metre racing but also combine racing with charitable efforts when possible.
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