The 12 Metre North American Championship, scheduled for September 23-26, will close out Newport’s regatta season with a spectacle of sail next Sunday when a Memorial Race in honor of local sailing legend Harry Anderson is held. Hosted by the 12 Metre Yacht Club, Newport Station and organized by Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the event begins with racing for the North American Championship Trophy on the preceding Thursday through Saturday, providing a steppingstone for teams preparing for the next 12 Metre World Championship, which is scheduled to return to Newport in 2022. (The Worlds were last held here in 2019 when 22 boats from six countries competed and Ida Lewis Yacht Club won US Sailing’s prestigious St. Petersburg Trophy for its role in orchestrating the event.)
“We are combining what traditionally has been four divisions into two classes,” said Jack LeFort (Jamestown, R.I.), who serves as Commodore of the 12 Metre Yacht Club and skippers Challenge XII (KA-10), which won the 12 Metre North Americans in 2018 as well as the 2019 12 Metre Worlds. “The classes are Class 1 for Grand Prix and Modern and Class 2 for Traditional and Vintage, which should add to the excitement and quality of racing.”
Joining Challenge XII in Class 1 will be Enterprise (US-27), skippered by Peter Askew (Baltimore, Md.) and New Zealand (KZ-3), skippered by Gunther Buerman (Highland Beach, Fla./Newport, R.I.). Sailing in Class 2 will be American Eagle (US-21), skippered by Alex Valcic (Nantucket, Mass/New York, N.Y.), 1958 America’s Cup winner and 2019 World Champion Columbia (US-16), skippered by Kevin Hegarty (Newport, R.I.), Nefertiti (US-19), skippered by Jack Klinck (Concord, Mass.), Onawa (US-6), skippered by Chris Culver (Vero Beach, Fla./Newport, R.I.), and 1962 America’s Cup winner Weatherly (US-17), skippered by Steve Eddleston (Bristol, R.I.)
Teams will complete six races over three days (weather permitting) and sail on Narragansett Bay and/or Rhode Island Sound. For the Harry Anderson Memorial Race, Classes 1 and 2 will start together. “This race will be scored independently from the North Americans,” explained LeFort, “and is intended as a way to share the beauty of the historic 12 Metres with the public.”
The 12 Metres are sleek, powerful approximately 70-foot sloops that competed for the America’s Cup between the years of 1958 to 1987. Harry Anderson, who passed away at age 98 in his home of Newport, devoted his life to racing and its rules and had a great hand in the development of the 12 Metre Class.
Vantage points for the Harry H. Memorial Pursuit Race, which starts at 11:00 on Sunday, the 26th, will include the lawn at Castle Hill, where the Race Committee will site a start and finish line for the fleet. After racing, the fleet will moor and “dress ship” off the New York Yacht Club in Newport Harbor (approximately 2:30). The 12 Metres also can be viewed dockside at Sail Newport on Saturday afternoon (after 3:30 p.m.) when they will gather there for the 12 Metre North American awards celebration and Sunday morning (prior to 11:00 a.m.) before they depart from Sail Newport for the Memorial Race.
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