12 Metre North American Championship

While Newport, RI might hold the title of “Sailing Capital of the World, for sure the city is identified hosting the America’s Cup races for decades. Newport is known for the summer mansions of America’s 19th century rich and famous, the Tennis Hall of Fame and sailing. From 1958 through 1983, the International 12 Metre was the sailing class used in racing for the coveted “America’s Cup”. To keep it short, the 12 Metre formula is not a length formula, but a set of parameters set off against displacement (weight) and sail area, all divided by 2.37. Whatever! So these yachts end up around 67’ in length, weigh about 60,000 pds, 90’ masts with a sail area of 1800+ sq. ft. To be sure, racing these yachts is not a contact sport, but it happens. None have been built since the 1987 “America’s Cup” in Australia, but many restored 12’s race throughout the Baltic, Mediterranean and New England. One of the largest fleets in the World calls Newport home.

Over the last weekend of September, Newport held the 12 Metre North American Championship. Which closes out a long sailing season of racing including Nantucket, Edgartown(MV) and Newport. While Hurricane Jose blew into town on Thursday and Friday, racing resumed with great weather and breeze the final two days.

As with and team, crew work is key. The race crew on each of these 12 Metre yachts is 16. Some of the 12’s are owned and raced with owners and some are chartered with amateur crews. By all accounts, it’s racing pieces of history, great camaraderie and fun. Since my profession and business is owning and chartering the yachts, I headed up the crew on “American Eagle”. She was built as a defender for the 1964 America’s Cup and then after her Cup days owner by Ted Turner. Turner converted her to an ocean racer and set records in some of the most prestigious races, including the Fastnet and Sidney-Hobart Races, two time winner of the Yachtsman of the Year Award and the World Ocean Racing Championship.

Our team was comprised of men and women sailing amateurs and business professionals, ages 26 to 72, who race smaller boats during the season. A few times during the summer, they all join talents and muscle on American Eagle.  After great competition, post-race beers, regatta parties, and even blood & sweat, we ended up in 2nd place. A solid result with room for improvement as we look to next season, winter boat refinements and skiing.