Protest snakes and ladders

One race held on the second day of the 12 Metre World Championship

Thursday September 24th 2009, Author: Jan Harley, Location: United Kingdom
There were no surprises in the finishes posted by the 17 Twelves who completed only a single race today at the 2009 12 Metre World Championship. After sailing out to the old America’s Cup racecourse off Brenton Point, the wind speed took a nosedive as it changed direction from WSW to NNW, leaving the competitors drifting for close to two hours. With one race completed, the four divisions were given a combined start for the Candy Store Cup, sending them on a course back into Newport Harbor to the finish line at Bannister’s Wharf. The wind, however, continued to be uncooperative and the race was abandoned when the Twelves were unable to make the time limit for the race.

Yesterday, racing in the Modern division was quite contentious, with the outcome of numerous protests resulting in Challenge 12 and Courageous each picking up a DSQ when the jury decisions did not go in their favour and causing a complete shake up in the results for that division. Unscathed by the protests, Dennis Williams at the helm of Victory ’83 is reaping the benefit of having assembled a crew that includes several who have sailed together for close to 30 years, including Heart of America veterans Wally Henry and Jim Gretzky, along with three father and son pairs - Jerry and Rome Kirby, Bill and Randy Shore and Larry and Matt Mialik, making for a well-oiled effort as evidenced by the 1-1-2 they posted on day one.

Peter Stalkus, navigator aboard Victory ’83, has the distinction of having been navigator with four America’s Cup campaigns (’80 Clipper, ’83 Defender, ’87 USA 61 and ’97 Young America). His take on Victory ‘83’s impressive performance here is that Dennis Williams, its owner, has been meticulous in his approach. “The boat is well prepared and it shows,” said Stalkus after the team picked up their third win in four races. “It has good speed and we’ve practiced ahead of time.”

While the fall-out from the protest decisions catapulted Intrepid from fifth into second and Freedom from fourth to third, today’s result did not do much to help either. Intrepid added a fifth-place finish today and dropped back to fourth overall, while the Freedom’s fourth-place finish held them in place. For Courageous, who had slipped from third to fourth overall after the protest, their second-place finish today moved them up to second overall. Challenge 12, dropping from second place to fifth after the protest results, was third in today’s race and did not move in the overall standings.

Bill Koch on Kiwi Magic leads the Grand Prix division, while tied on points - six each - with Lexi Gahagan on Wright on White. In the Traditional division, Clay Deutsch on Weatherly leads with six points, three ahead of American Eagle being driven by Charlie Millikin and Carol Swift. Kip Curren on Northern Light is leading by one point over Gleam, driven by Norway's Einar Sissener, in the Vintage division.

Legends Forums

The Legends Forums are a unique sidebar to the 2009 12 Metre Worlds, bringing together the biggest names of the America’s Cup 12 Metre era for question-and-answer sessions moderated by Gary Jobson, who won the America’s Cup with Ted Turner in 1977 and went on to become the voice of sailing for television.

Held after racing each day dockside at Bannister’s and Bowen’s Wharves, with a finale forum planned for Sunday, as well, at the awards ceremony at Harbour Court, the forums are designed to include representation from a varied - and knowledgeable - group of personalities in the categories of Syndicate Representative, Crew, Design, Journalist and Other Notables. On opening day, the panel included Skip Lissiman (AUS), Gianfranco Alberini (ITA), Russell Coutts (NZL), and Americans Charlie Hovey, Harry Anderson, Dave Pedrick, Andy MacGowan, Bill Koch and Dick Enerson.

The questions ran the gamut from “Who was the best 12 Metre skipper?” (all of them who won, it was decided in consensus) and “What was the best Twelve ever?” ( Intrepid for being the biggest departure, changing all future designs) to “What will win the next America’s Cup, a trimaran or a catamaran?” (that one was a toss-up). Clearly, the audience was enjoying the up close-and-personal encounter, and they lingered to talk about the exchanges long after the luminaries had left, some even discussing what questions would be best to ask a different group tonight.

Racing resumes tomorrow, Friday, September 25, and concludes Saturday, September 26.

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