Photos: Billy Black

Ted Turner wins in Newport

12 Metre North American Championship concludes

Friday September 30th 2011, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: United States

Media mogul Ted Turner returned to the sport he mastered many decades ago when he helmed the iconic American Eagle - the 12 Metre he once owned - in the 2011 12 Metre North American Championships held in Newport, RI over 23-25 September. Turner’s well-honed skills earned him first place in the Traditional division as well as the Pine Brothers Sponsor Trophy for Best Overall Performance.

“It’s great to see that Ted, at age 72, still has the touch and the love of the sport,” said Gary Jobson, who served as tactician for Turner just as he did when Turner’s Courageous won the 1977 America’s Cup. The regatta included nine 12 Metres (Victory 83, Courageous, USA, Intrepid, American Eagle, Weatherly, Columbia, Northern Light and Onawa) racing in three divisions (Grand Prix/Modern, Traditional, Classic) and drew several other celebrity yachtsmen as well, including America’s Cup veterans Dave Pedrick, Richie Boyd, Scott Perry, Andy MacGowan, Jim Gretzky, Reggie Pierce, Tom O'Brien, Richie Sayer, and Stu Argo and other notable sailors such as Jeff Johnstone, Michael Keyworth, Brad Read and Jud Smith.

“Each of the beloved historic 12 Metres were packed with the best-of-the-best on board for competitive racing, in the spirit they were designed for,” said Event Chair Cindy Delotto. Principal Race Officer Peter Gerard added that even though the conditions - sometimes dense fog, light breezes and a swell from offshore - proved challenging, “when we got to race, it was good, fair racing.” After five races over Friday and Saturday, scores were close going into Sunday, but light breezes led to postponement and eventually cancellation, leaving unfinished business between competitors. In the Grand Prix/Modern division only one point separated first place Victory ’83 from second place Courageous. American Eagle took top honours in the Traditional division over Weatherly, while in the Classic division Northern Light beat Onawa.

Bannister’s Wharf was home base for the yachts and crews, stirring memories of Newport’s America’s Cup days of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, when 12 Metre battle flags flew boldly above the docks as crowds inspected these beautiful, historic boats as they laid at rest. And just as in 1977 and 1980, they thrilled to see Ted Turner mixing with sailors at the dock after a long hard day of 12 Meter racing.

The Awards Ceremony at Ida Lewis Yacht Club was high spirited despite the shortened race schedule, as so many of the 12 Metre teams have become as close as family over countless seasons of returning to 12 Metre sailing. As Jim Gretzky said, “the beauty of 12 Metre sailing is that is breaks down all social and age barriers and melds all players into one team.”

Herb Marshall, Vice President of the 12 Metre Americas Fleet, presented the awards, with special thanks to Regatta Sponsor Pine Brothers and Supporting Sponsors Sebago, Atlantis, Boston Beer and BAI.

This was the last 12 Metre event to be scored for the Ted Hood Championship Trophy, given for best performance over the 2011 season. This was awarded in the Grand Prix/Modern Division to Victory ’83; in the Traditional division to American Eagle; and in the Classic division to Northern Light.

This year’s event inaugurated the Ted Turner Trophy, awarded for an individual’s contribution to the 12 Metre Class on and off the water. To a standing ovation and thunderous enthusiasm from the entire fleet, Turner himself presented the magnificent trophy-- designed by Dan MacDonald of Three Golden Apples in Newport - to Guy Heckman, who campaigns USA.

Final results

Grand Prix/Modern
1.Victory 83, 1,1,1,2,2; 7
2. Courageous, 2,2,2,1,1; 8
3. USA, 4,3,3,3,4; 17
4. Intrepid, 3,4,4,4,3; 18

Traditional
1. American Eagle, 2,1,1,1,1; 6
2. Weatherly, 1,2,3,2,2; 10
3. Columbia, 3,3,2,3,3; 14

Classic
1. Northern Light, 2,1,1,1,1; 6
2. Onawa,1,2,2,2,2; 9

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