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America's Cup: 12 Metres to re-unite in 2024 for 17th Regata Puig Vela Clàssica in Barcelona

by America's Cup Media 8 Aug 2023 02:03 PDT 8 August 2023
12mR World Championship, Newport, Rhode Island, USA © Stephen R Cloutier

They are undoubtedly some of the most graceful yachts ever to sail in the America’s Cup and for 29 years between 1958 and 1987 they provided some of the most intriguing battles that the oldest competition in international sports has ever witnessed.

And the exciting news is that in 2024, the 12 Metre fleet are re-convening in Barcelona to take part in the ‘17th Regata Puig Vela Clàssica’ run by the Real Club Nàutic de Barcelona for ten days between the 1st-10th September 2024, during the America’s Cup Challenger Selection Series, and mooring at the RCNB’s marina in the heart of the America’s Cup Village. There will be four days of racing between the 4th-7th September 2024 inclusive, and all divisions of 12 Metres are welcome with up to twenty-five yachts expected to be in Barcelona for this magnificent festival of sailing.

The imminent arrival of these classic yachts will create much interest and Jordi Puig, President of the Real Club Nàutic de Barcelona, put it perfectly as he said: “It is extremely exciting for the city and the sailing community to have the America’s Cup in Barcelona, and for the Real Club Nàutic de Barcelona to organise parallel events within this environment that will help to showcase a fabulous era in the long history of the event. It is an honour for the Puig Vela Clàssica to have the 12-metres back in Barcelona, with the fleet coming from all over the world. We enjoyed hosting the fleet back in 2014, on the 7th edition of the regatta, and look forward to welcoming the 12 Metre family again in 2024 where the contrast between the displacement era and the new era of foiling vessels will be a stunning backdrop for the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona.”

The 12 Metre class can trace its history back to the early 1900s when they were used in the 1908, 1912 and 1920 Olympic Games. The class was introduced to the America’s Cup in 1958 by the holders at the time, the New York Yacht Club, following the cessation of the competition during the period of the Second World War.

The ‘Golden Era’ of the enormous J-Class yachts that had last competed for the Cup in 1937 with the ‘superboat’ Ranger defeating Sir TOM Sopwith’s Endeavour II was over, as harsh post-war economic times precluded the building and campaigning of these vessels. The New York Yacht Club recognised the desire for a smaller and more cost-effective class to re-start the competition and the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes agreed, sending the David Boyd designed Sceptre to face the Olin Stephens designed Columbia in 1958.

The Americans successfully defended eight times in the Match against challengers from Britain and Australia through to 1983 when finally, the longest winning streak in sports history was ended by the radical winged-keel yacht Australia II helmed by John Bertrand and designed by the genius of Ben Lexcen. The Cup was taken to Fremantle Western Australia for what would be the final time that 12 Metres competed for the trophy in a memorable regatta in the big seas and winds of Gage Roads with the Australian Kookaburra III Task Force Syndicate losing to Dennis Conner’s Stars ‘n’ Stripes ‘87 after a thrilling series that catapulted the America’s Cup into the mainstream.

The 12 Metre fleet was eventually replaced by the IACC class after the Deed of Gift Match in 1988 but they were anything but forgotten and fleets have sprung up most notably in North America and in both North and Southern Europe ever since, with owners restoring and updating these beautiful yachts with modern technology.

For spectators, seeing these amazing boats in the harbour and sailing out just beyond the America’s Cup course area off the Barceloneta beachfront will be a perfect juxtaposition between the historical and the new and provide an incredible reference point for the America’s Cup event. Participants in the regatta can gain points toward the Coupe de France series organised by the Yacht Club de France and entries are invited through the International Twelve Metre Association (ITMA) website which will be updated in due course:

Chris Winter, President of ITMA was delighted to announce the event saying: “This is a truly historic event that will appeal to many owners of 12 Metre yachts around the world and we are really looking forward to being in the heart of the action for the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona. The Real Club Nàutic de Barcelona are just the perfect hosts with fabulous facilities to house the fleet at their marina and the 17th Regata Puig Vela Clàssica is such a prestigious event on the international circuit that it’s a must-do event for 12 Metre owners and sailors. We will announce details of entry shortly after the World Championships and hope to welcome 12 Metres of all classes to the event.”

Grant Dalton, CEO of America’s Cup Events welcomed the initiative saying: “In many people’s minds, the era of the 12 Metre Class in the America’s Cup was what inspired their interest in the event, and we’re delighted that Chris and the ITMA will be joining us in Barcelona as the Challenger Selection Series kicks off for the 37th America’s Cup. The 12 Metres will provide a lot of interest, and as always, their racing will be incredibly tight. We’re looking forward to seeing the boats and for the sailors to enjoy the unique atmosphere that is building in Barcelona.”

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