12m gathering

Classic and not-so-classic former America's Cup boats to gather in Newport, RI next month

Friday August 19th 2005, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: United States
After summer sailing activities have wound down on Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay, the International 12-Metre Class Association's 2005 World Championships will be cranking up. The event, set for September 14-18 in Newport and also serving as the class's North American Championships, will be hosted by the New York Yacht Club at its Harbour Court clubhouse and sponsored by The Jibe wines of New Zealand.

Expected are 16 entrants divided into divisions for Grand Prix (Hissar, Kiwi, Kiwi Magic and US 61), Modern ( Challenge 12, Courageous, Freedom, Intrepid, Lionheart and Valiant), Classic Traditional ( American Eagle, Nefertiti, Weatherly) and Classic Vintage ( Gleam, Northern Light and Onawa).

"The gathering will represent the largest collection of 12-Metres racing together since the last World Championships in 2001 at the America's Cup Jubilee in Cowes, when 34 of the 12-Metres were on the line," said Event Chair Paul Buttrose, who is also vice-president of the International 12-Metre Class Association. "It will also be the largest-ever collection of 12-Metres for a regatta in the U.S."

The 12-Metre class played a significant role in the development of yachting in the 20th Century. Large graceful yachts, with good racing speed and manned by a sizable crew, the 12-Metres were designed by some of the sport's greats--William Fife, Charles Nicholson, Olin Stephens, Alfred Mylne and Johan Anker. They debuted as America's Cup boats in the 1958 races, with the 26th America's Cup in 1987 being the tenth and final to be raced in 12-Metres.

"The venue for the 2005 12-Metre World Championships is significant both as the current homeport of many of the remaining 12-Metres and as the stage for the America's Cup races from 1930 to 1983, when we finally lost the Cup after 132 years," said Steven Wolff, chair of the New York Yacht Club’s Sailing Committee. "The New York Yacht Club will host these races, continuing to support actively a class that is such an important part of our heritage and traditions."

Nine of the 12-Metres took the opportunity to practice for the Worlds in Newport at the Oxbow Regatta, organized by the Museum of Yachting in July. The Grand Prix division was won by Edgar Cato's Hissar, with Bill Koch's Kiwi Magic finishing second, heating up a rivalry that has become more intense since Hissar won the 2004 12-Metre North Americans and put an end to Kiwi Magic's winning streak.

Koch explained that he has made significant changes to his boat to remain competitive and that this is the trend in the class. "When I bought KZ7 (Kiwi Magic), I was thinking it was the fastest in the world under all conditions, and I wouldn't have to spend a fortune modifying it. Our first and second years, we won virtually all our races," said Koch. "Now I've spent probably 150% of the value of the boat in modifying it. But I joined this class because it's small and friendly. It keeps me connected to the America's Cup and keeps my foot in sailing. I also use it as a reunion for the sailors from my America 3 campaign."

In fact, both Hissar and Kiwi Magic will have many America's Cup veterans aboard. "It will make for some very interesting racing," said Koch.

The Jibe Sponsorship

At the 12-Metre Worlds, The Jibe will make its sponsorship presence known with battle flags on the boats and The Jibe Sauvignon Blanc featured at social events such as the captain's meeting and opening reception, dinners and the trophy presentation at regatta's end.

The Jibe is excited to sponsor this exclusive race," said Brand Manager Nick Withers. "Yacht racing is a perfect fit for The Jibe with its nautical theme, and it's a terrific way to pay tribute to New Zealand's history and involvement with the sport." Sailing is a national pastime in New Zealand, a country that has twice won the America's Cup - in 1995 and 2000 - and boasts the highest ownership of boats per capita in the world.
"We're looking forward to this event--and the chance to show our wines, which feature a billowing white sail on the label, to the yachting crowd," added Withers.

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