The Twelves Are Coming Back

by Commodore James Gubelmann, 12 Metre Yacht Club, Newport Station
The heyday of 12 Metre racing in the U.S. ended in 1983 when we lost the America’s Cup to Australia in Newport. The “second coming” for the fleet took place in 2001 when the Queen of England attended the Jubilee Regatta at Cowes, U.K. There were 39 12 Metre yachts at the starting line for that week’s long celebrations of America’s Cup boats, beginning with the original (1851) racecourse around the Isle of Wight. In recent years, our fleet of “twelves” has dropped from the 17 yachts assembled for the Jubilee celebration, to a present-day fleet of 10 boats.
The mission of the 12 Metre Yacht Club, Newport Station is: “To provide and facilitate discussion and a social environment for 12 Metre owners and others interested in the history of the 12 Metre Class and to encourage continued involvement in preserving, restoring and racing 12 Metre yachts in the Newport area” – which means that our board is dedicated to supporting the North American Fleet headed by Herb Marshall, with events on and off the water and exposure for the class in general.
We are currently organizing – with the International Twelve Metre Class Association headed by Commodore Dyer Jones – the next World Championships to be held in the U.S. in 2019. We plan to renovate and restore numerous “twelves” in our own Narragansett Bay Fleet, bringing them up to par to race against the very proactive Northern European Fleet headed by Patrick Howaldt out of Copenhagen, and the slick Southern European Fleet headed by Luigi Lang in Milan. This will be a spectacular event with 12 boats from America, eight boats from the Baltic, and six boats from the Mediterranean.
Our modern rules allow each boat to carry 14 crew on board, with the typical size of these boats ranging from 62 feet to 70 feet. This will be a spectacular series of regattas, as we are planning to invite the 12 Metres from around the world to put aside two and a half months in May, June, and July with races planned in four or five venues in New England, preceded by an inaugural regatta in the Caribbean!
Of interest in 2014 was the 12 Metre U.S. Nationals in Newport (RI), where we had a dinner for 100 crew at the Clarke Cooke House, our “12 Metre Yacht Club.” From the original crews who raced for the America’s Cup in 1964 and 1974, over 55 people attended an additional event held at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court. Believe you me, the 12 Metre class is coming back strong, and the heroes of yesteryear are back to support our mission! May the force (winds and tides) be with us.