America’s Cup history will repeat itself this week in Rhode Island when the 12 Metre North American Championship features two of sailing’s most famous skippers, Ted Turner and Dennis Conner, reuniting with their winning tacticians, Gary Jobson and Tom Whidden, respectively.
Turner, an American media mogul and philanthropist, will sail American Eagle in the Traditional division at the regatta, while Conner, known as “Mr. America’s Cup,” will sail KZ-7 (Kiwi Magic) in the Grand Prix division.
The three-day regatta takes place from September 21-23 in Newport, Rhode Island, with racing starting each day at 11am on Rhode Island Sound, where the Cup races were staged from 1930 until 1983.
All nine participating 12 Metres will be berthed at Bannister’s Wharf, reminiscent of the glory days when America’s Cup legends roamed the docks there after racing each day and where those who attended the 12 Metre America’s Cup reunion two years ago revisited.
Turner has won the 12 Metre North Americans for the last two years here, sailing American Eagle as he did in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. His performance in 2011 earned Turner first place in the Traditional division as well as the Pine Brothers Trophy for best overall performance.
“It’s a great thrill to reconnect with my long-time friend Ted Turner,” said Gary Jobson, who served as tactician for his skipper when Courageous beat Australia to win the 1977 America’s Cup.
“Ted is one of the heroes of our sport. He retired many years ago, but when he is on the water his competitive drive continues.”
About Conner, Jobson added, “Dennis Conner is one of the most successful American sailors of all time. Any time he is on the water he has a way of lifting every competitor’s game.”
Conner, a four time America’s Cup Winner (1974, ‘80, ‘87, ‘88), will have an impressive crew aboard KZ-7 (Kiwi Magic), which is currently owned by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Foundation.
Tom Whidden, one of the most experienced AC sailors in the world, sailed with Conner in three of his victories (1980, 1987 and 1988), while three others have sailed with Conner during various AC campaigns: Jerry Kirby (2003), Dave Kulver (’92, ’95) and Ralf Steitz (’92, ‘95). Joining them will be Michel Maeder, who sailed with Baron Marcel Bich in 1980.
“This will be Kiwi Magic, powered primarily by Stars & Stripes,” said Steitz, recognising the irony that during the Louis Vuitton Challenger series held in Fremantle, Australia during 1986/’87, Conner had challenged the fairness of KZ-7’s fibreglass hull against the slower aluminum hulls being used at the time.
“We will, of course, also have five USMMA midshipmen sailing as part of the 15-man crew. It’s great to give these young people an opportunity to sail with these great legends in our sport, these America’s Cup notables who also are truly among the greatest sailors in the world,” said Steitz of the program of which he is president.
In addition to American Eagle and KZ-7, Columbia, Courageous, Intrepid, KZ-5, USA, Victory ’83 and Weatherly will be racing. Other celebrity yachtsmen participating include America’s Cup veterans Jim Gretzky, Andy MacGowan, Tom O’Brien, Dave Pedrick, Scott Perry, Reggie Pierce, Richie Sayer and Bill Shore.
A special private-invitation event on Thursday, September 20, will kick off the 12 Metre North American Championships in style and serve a good cause by supporting the national nonprofit Hope For The Warriors®. The organisation was founded by Robin Kelleher, the wife of a Naval War College Officer, and supports wounded U.S. service members, their families and families of the fallen.
Cocktails and dinner will be served at the 12 Metre Yacht Club, located on the third floor of the famous Clark Cooke House on Bannister’s Wharf. During the dinner, 12 Metre Yacht Club Station Steward, Gary Jobson, will introduce Jimmy Gubelmann as the new commodore of the Club.
Also making presentations will be Ted Turner and combat-wounded veteran and solo distance sailor Ronnie Simpson.
The event concludes on Sunday, September 23, with an Awards Ceremony at Ida Lewis Yacht Club, which also serves as the Organising Authority of the event.
Herb Marshall, Vice President of the 12 Metre Americas Fleet, will present the Gubelmann Trophy for the winner of each class in the North American Championships; the Ted Hood Trophy for the highest points overall for specific regattas during the season; and the Pine Brothers Trophy for best overall boat in the North American Championships.
Ted Turner will present the Ted Turner Trophy for noteworthy contribution on or off the water.
Regatta Sponsor is Pine Brothers, while Supporting Sponsors are Boston Beer Company, Harbor Town Wine of NZ (partner to the 12 Metre fleet), Sebago and Atlantis.
Grand Prix – yachts built for the 1987 America’s Cup
KZ-5 ~ KZ5, Kip Curren, Newport, R.I.
KZ-7 (Kiwi Magic) ~ KZ7, Dennis Conner, San Diego, California
USA ~ US 61, Andy MacGowan, Middletown, R.I.
Modern – yachts built between 1974 and 1983
Courageous ~ US 26, Ralph Isham, New York, N.Y.
Intrepid ~ US 22, Jack Curtin, New York, N.Y.
Victory ’83 ~ K 21, Dennis Williams, Hobe Sound, Fla.
Traditional – yachts built between 1958 and 1970
American Eagle/Hope for the Warriors ~ US 21, Ted Turner, Atlanta, Georgia
Columbia ~ US 16, Alain Hanover, Weston, Massachusetts
Weatherly ~ US 17, George Hill, Newport, R.I.
Further information: www.12mrclass.com
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 favor and causing a complete shake up in the results for that division. Unscathed by the protests, Dennis Williams (Mashpee, Mass.) 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 (San Diego, Calif.) and Jim Gretzky (Storrs, Conn.), along with three father and son pairs – Jerry and Rome Kirby, Bill and Randy Shore (all Newport, R.I.) and Larry and Matt Mialik (both Madison, Wisc.), making for a well-oiled effort as evidenced by the 1-1-2 they posted on day one.
Peter Stalkus (Newport, R.I.), 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 fallout 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 (Palm Beach, Fla./Osterville, Mass.), on Kiwi Magic, leads the Grand Prix division, while tied on points – six each – with Lexi Gahagan (Wilmington, Del.) on Wright on White. In the Traditional division, Clay Deutsch (Newport, R.I.) on Weatherly leads with six points, three ahead of American Eagle being driven by Charlie Millikin and Carol Swift (both Newport, R.I.). Kip Curren (Middletown, R.I.) on Northern Light is leading by one point over Gleam, driven by Einar Sissener (Oslo, NOR), in the Vintage division.
Images By George Bekris
(click on image to enlarge)
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 (Annapolis, Md.), 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.
2009 12 Metre Worlds Results for Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009
Place, Boat Name-Sail Number, Skipper (Hometown), Finish positions, Total Points
Division I – Grand Prix
1. Kiwi Magic-KZ7, Bill Koch (Palm Beach, Fla./Osterville, Mass.) 2-2-1-1, 6
2. Wright on White-KZ3, Lexi Gahagan (Wilmington, Del.) 1-1-2-2, 6
3. USA-US61, Richard Matthews (W. Mersea, GBR), 3-3-3-3, 12
4. America II-US46, Michael Fortenbaugh (New York, N.Y.), 4-4-DNF-4, 17
Division 2 – Modern
1. Victory 83-K22, Dennis Williams (Mashpee, Mass.), 1-1-2-1, 5
2. Courageous, US26, Stephen Glascock (New York, N.Y.), 3-2-DSQ-2, 13
3. Freedom-US30, Ernest Jacquet (Boston, Mass.), 4- 5-1-4, 14
2. Intrepid-US22, Jack Curtin (Toronto, CAN), 2-3-4-5, 14
5. Challenge 12-KA10, William Borel (Paris, FRA), DSQ-4-3-3, 16
Division 3 – Traditional
1. Weatherly-US17, Clay Deutsch (Newport, R.I.), 2-1-1-2, 6
2. American Eagle-US21, Charlie Millikin/Carol Swift (both Newport, R.I.), 4-2-2-1, 9
3. Columbia-US16, Alain Hanover (Weston, Mass./Palm Beach, Fla.), 1-3-3-3, 10
4. Nefertiti-US19, Sears Wullschleger (Nantucket, Mass.), 3-4-4-4, 15
5. Easterner-US18, Paul Callahan (Ft. Meyers, Fla./Newport, R.I.), 5-5-DNS-5, 21
Division 4 – Vintage
1. Northern Light-US14, Kip Curren (Middletown, R.I.), 1-2-1-2, 6
2. Gleam-US11, Einar Sissener (Oslo, NOR), 3-1-2-1, 7
3. Onawa-US6, Morten Kielland (Geneva, SUI), 2-DNF-DNS-3, 13