New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport Presented by Rolex


12 Metres Rule the Day

It was all about 12 Metres today when 13 of the boats — known for their role in America’s Cup history during the “Twelve Era” (1958-1987) — raced on Narragansett Bay to set in motion the New York Yacht Club’s (NYYC) sixth biennial Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex. The 12 Metres will be joined tomorrow and Sunday by another 40 classic yachts, many of which are Sparkman and Stephens designs gathered in celebration of designer Olin Stephens’s 100th Birthday Celebration, being held in conjunction with this first half of Race Week. (The second half picks up next Thursday with four days of racing for 123 boats in One-Design, IRC and PHRF classes.)

In the Modern Division, two of the most famous S&S-designed 12 Metres — Courageous, skippered by Stephen Glascock (Middletown, R.I.) and helmed by Jamie Hilton (Newport, R.I.), and Intrepid, skippered by Jack Curtin (New York, N.Y.) — are tied on points, each holding on to a first- and second-place finish from today’s two races. Looking as sleek and youthful as in the days when they each successfully defended two America’s Cups (Intrepid in 1967/’70 and Courageous in 1974/’77), the two historic Twelves have had a “great rivalry for the better part of 10 years,” according to Curtin. “Courageous definitely is the boat to beat,” he said. “If we didn’t have the team we have, we’d be in trouble.” With four America’s Cup veterans aboard, Intrepid led start to finish in the first race, but Courageous showed blazing speed downwind in the second race to overtake its rival. Finishing third in both races was Ernest Jacquet’s (Boston, Mass.) Freedom, another successful defender of the Cup (1980).

In other action, USA 61, skippered by Ralph Isham (New York, N.Y.) and helmed by Andy MacGowan (Middletown, R.I.), posted two bullets in Grand Prix division. Alain Hanover’s (Newport, R.I.) 1958 Cup Winner Columbia leads Traditional division, while Elizabeth Tiedemann’s (Newport, R.I.) Northern Light is 1-1 in Classic division to lead.

Newport has more ties to the America’s Cup than any other place on the planet. Until 1983, an American syndicate from the New York Yacht Club, the host club of Race Week, had always successfully defended the Cup in what became the longest winning streak–132 years–in the history of any sport. This September marks the 25th Anniversary of Newport, and America, losing the Cup. It also marks the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Twelve Era. Stephens designed six other 12 Metres in addition to the eight sailing here.

“It’s the celebration for Olin that makes this regatta so special,” said Curtin. “We feel strongly about our connection to Olin and the history that he is part of; it was our obligation to the sport to be here.”

Photo credit: Rolex / Dan Nerney

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