Grand gathering

Largest gathering of vintage 12 metres expected next week in Newport, RI for World Championship

Tuesday September 15th 2009, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
The countdown clock has just about run out only a week remains until the start of one of the most anticipated yacht racing events of the year - the 2009 12 Metre World Championships. What is expected to be the largest gathering of these vintage yachts in the 26 years since Newport last hosted the America’s Cup (in 1983) is scheduled for September 22-27, and the accompanying reunion of sailing personalities has drawn a great deal of interest and speculation. This will be a homecoming for these sailing legends, many of whom rose to prominence in the sport while racing “Twelves” on Narragansett Bay.

The 2009 Worlds are the centerpiece of the Golden Year of Racing, a year-long 50th anniversary celebration of the 12 Metre’s debut in the America’s Cup, in 1958, which ultimately saw Columbia ~ US 16 defeat the British challenger, Sceptre - K17. Five America’s Cup winning boats (including Columbia), a winning skipper, and several boats that were in the Defender competition for the Cup will race. International sailors, including the skipper and crew from France’s Challenge 12, and crews from Norway (racing on Gleam), Switzerland (racing Onawa) and the United Kingdom (racing on USA ) will up the ante in what should be a fierce competition.

In the Grand Prix Division, Kiwi Magic ~ KZ 7 will be skippered by 1992 America’s Cup winner Bill Koch (Osterville, Mass./Palm Beach, Fla.), while among the six Twelves sailing in the Modern Division are three ( Courageous ~ US 26, Freedom ~ US 30 and Intrepid ~ US 22) who collectively have won the Cup five times. Cup winners Columbia ~ US 16 and Weatherly ~ US 17 will sail in the five-boat Traditional Division and Onawa ~ US 6, the oldest yacht in the American fleet, will compete in the Vintage Division which will have three yachts racing. The Twelves will be docked at Bowen’s Wharf and Bannister’s Warf in historic downtown Newport.

Of particular interest to sailing afficionados will be the 12 Metre Legends Forums, sponsored by North Sails, held after racing in the 12 Metre Worlds Village at Bowen’s Wharf on September 23, 24 and 25. Moderators Tom Whidden (Essex, Conn.) and regatta co-chairs Gary Jobson (Annapolis, Md.) and Jan Slee (Newport, R.I.) will interview the slate of 30+ participants who are skippers, tacticians, crew and yacht designers. They include Gianfranco Alberini (ITA), Richard du Moulin (Larchmont, N.Y.), Halsey Herreshoff (Bristol, R.I.), Ted Hood (Portsmouth, R.I.) , Luigi Lang (ITA), Andy MacGowan (Middletown, R.I.), Lowell North (San Diego, Calif.), Charles Dana, Bill Langan, David Pedrick and David Ray (all Newport, R.I.), Jack Sutphen (San Diego, Calif.) and Sam Wakeman (Cohasset, Mass.). The North Sails Legends Forum Finale will take place before the awards presentation on Sunday, September 27, at New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court.

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