Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport, RI, the International Twelve Metre Association (ITMA) America’s Fleet and the 12 Metre Yacht Club are gearing up for the largest-ever gathering of historic 12 Metre yachts in the U.S. The 2019 12 Metre World Championship, scheduled for July 8 – 13, will host 24 teams from seven countries including Patrizio Bertelli’s US-12 Nyala, the defending 12 Metre World Champion, and five yachts that have successfully defended the America’s Cup: US-16 Columbia (1958), US-17 Weatherly (1962), US-22 Intrepid (1967 & ‘70), US-26 Courageous (1974 & ‘77) and US-30 Freedom (1980).
“The last 12 Metre World Championship was in Barcelona, Spain in 2014,” said Event Chair Peter Gerard, “so there is some pent-up energy for sure. Over the last two years, there has been an emphasis on developing new teams, training for the Worlds and getting these iconic yachts into the best possible condition for competition.”
Making the trip to Newport from overseas are teams from the Northern Europe and Southern Europe Fleets. They’ll join the Americas Fleet for racing on Rhode Island Sound where a dozen America’s Cup competitions were held for just over five decades. Three of them (between 1930 and 1937) were contested in the Universal J Class yachts, while nine (between 1958 and ‘83) were held in the 12 Metres that are now famously etched into the “Golden Era” of America’s Cup history.
The Twelves are divided into divisions based on when they were built. At the Worlds, eight boats will sail in Grand Prix (for 12 Metres built in 1987, winged keel), seven in Modern (1967-‘83), five in Traditional (1958-‘66) and four in Vintage (1907-‘58). Grand Prix, Modern and Traditional divisions mostly represent boats built for America’s Cup competition, while the Vintage division represents those built prior to the Cup’s 12 Metre era. Sponsors for the 12 Metre World Championship are Helly Hansen Newport and Code Zero, while Official Logistics Provider is Sevenstar Yacht Transport.
“It will be a full summer of happenings,” said Gerard, explaining that the last four Waypoints Series events, New York Yacht Club’s 165th Annual Regatta (June 14 – 16), Edgartown YC’s 12mR Regatta (June 21 – 23), Ida Lewis YC’s Newport Trophy Regatta (June 29 – 30), and the Pre-Worlds hosted by Sail Newport (July 6 & 7), will serve as tune-ups for the Worlds. “This remarkably large fleet of 12 Metres, known for their historic significance, beauty and grace, will create a spectacle not seen here since the America’s Cup days of old.”
Most of the fleet will be berthed at Fort Adams during the Worlds and the Pre-Worlds, and visitors can view the yachts before and after racing. A large on-water spectator fleet is expected, and land-based spectators can catch the fleet sailing to and from racing at vantage points along the shores closest to Narragansett Bay’s East Passage including Fort Adams, Beavertail Light and Castle Hill.
Following the Worlds, New York Yacht Club has invited the 12 Metre Class to participate in a “12 Metre Jubilee” at its 175th Anniversary Regatta (July 15 – 20) and compete for a series of historic 12 Metre Trophies. For more information, visit 12mrworlds.com or 12mrclass.com, or email Peter Gerard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barby MacGowan at Media Pro International contributed to this report.