A Tale Of Two Oceans And A Great Lake
It is hard to be in two places at the same time, let alone three. That was the case this month for me as the penultimate 50th anniversary of the Transpacific Ocean Race took place simultaneously against a once-in-a-lifetime historical event in the 12-Meter World Championships in Newport, Rhode Island and if that wasn′t enough the two annual races to Mackinac Island were on deck as well.
Hard choices needed to be made as to where, when and how. LA and Hawaii? Chicago, Port Huron and up to Mackinac Island (been there, done that several times in last few years) or out East to New York City and up to Newport, Rhode Island?
The decision was rendered that it was important to do new things in old places. In going to New York, in all the years I have spent there, I had never ventured out to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It seemed now was as important as ever to be reminded of the sacred liberties we hold dear and remember the freedoms we have that we all too often take for granted.
Besides, in venturing over to Newport for the 12-Meter rendezvous, what better way to set the table than a visit out to see the elegant lady of liberty whose very presence was made possible in part by the philanthropic efforts of Georgina Schuyler, whose father was the author of the America′s Cup Deed of Gift in 1887.
Our trip over was a cavalcade of close calls as I had decided to park in Port Chester ahead of the rush hour traffic and take the train in. We caught the express into Grand Central Station with just seconds to spare.
Then it was racing down into Manhattan′s underground to catch the correct subway train to Battery Park and NOT Brooklyn! Avoiding the insanity of people at rush hour in those hallowed halls is as treacherous as trying not to get tagged in dodgeball.
Again, with just seconds to spare we got on the correct train for our 11:00 a.m. envelope to catch the ferry ride over to the islands of liberty and freedom. The whole experience was mind boggling and I became numb to my surrounding as I looked around at all the families of the world making the trip out to see the grand old dame and was reminded of how precious it is to be here.
We followed up and concluded our NYC adventure out to the United Nations and then it was back to Grand Central Station for another round of rush hour madness! Oh, by the way, we also hit the Metropolitan Art Museum, the Hi-Line (which runs through my family′s old Chelsea estate), Central Park, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, dinner in Little Italy, Trinity Church (where my great, great grandfather who was the Episcopal Arch-Bishop, President of Columbia and the Rector and is buried next to Alexander Hamilton) and last but certainly not least, a constant reminder of the importance of what it means to live here, the World Trade Center Memorial.
We arrived in Newport, just after sunset and it was off to the races first thing in the morning!
The hosting of the 12-Meter World Championships in Rhode Island off Brenton Reef is iconic in its links to the city, which played host to America′s Cup from 1930 to 1983. Historic Fort Adams has become the host spot for many of these international sailing events over the last 30-some years including the Volvo Ocean Race and America′s Cup World Series as well as legendary Newport Jazz Festival.
Press Officer Barby MacGowen did an awesome job of organizing the event allowing for an amazing opportunity to be out on the water with several VIP′s on a beautiful Grand Banks 40-footer! It was a day filled with nostalgia with the elegant and graceful Twelves racing a few miles off Beavertail Point on the same waters that featured many of the greatest moments in America′s Cup history.
After the day′s racing, we skipped over for oysters and beer at the Clarke Cooke House and then watched the sunset on the lawn at the Inn on Castle Hill which has come a long way from the $49.00 a night that it cost in 1980 to a whopping few grand for the same room now. Ouch!!
More on all the racing later.
The next day we rolled over to Bristol, Rhode Island to visit the America′s Cup Hall of Fame Museum at the Herreshoff Boat Works. It was somewhat bittersweet talking with a few of the old-timers who restore the antique yachts knowing they may be the last generation who have the woodworking skills to restore those classics.
Finally, it was a visit over to Cornelius Vanderbilt′s awe inspiring mansion, the Breakers and his grandson′s place, the Marble House which was home to Harold “Mike” Vanderbilt who defended the America′s Cup three times in the 1930′s on Enterprise, Rainbow and the mighty J Boat Ranger. My mom would recognize him more for the fact that he was a champion Bridge player!
Also, of interest was the Vanderbilt lineage which includes the recently deceased Gloria Vanderbilt whose grandfather was the Commodore and whose son is CNN′s Anderson Cooper, which was a coincidence since the network′s founder Ted Turner was in town for the event!
I worked really hard to push past my Vanderbilt bias as the Commodore ruined my family′s Chelsea neighborhood and estate by running his railroads right through the middle of it! But, that paved the way for the Hi-Line walkway park which took the antiquated elevated railways which had been decaying for decades and through a few ingenious acts turned them into a glorious walkway which begins or ends at the relocated Whitney Museum of Art depending on which way you are walking.
Anyway, enough of the East Coast! It′s on to the other races.
I chose to pass up the Mackinac Races this year for the chance to drool over all the 12-Meters and, also because the cost of the Grand Hotel′s Porch Party has risen more than $100.00 in two years! It used to be free! Too many party crashers.
Though, in missing this year′s races, the Bell′s Brewery Port Huron to Mackinac Race was a barn burner with challenging conditions which witnessed wind speed approaching 60 knots on the racecourse!
But I am going to lead with the 50th bi-annual Transpac Race which became an instant classic in more ways than one. Distance races are becoming more of the norm as many of the classic regattas like the Admirals Cup (Fastnet Race now) and the Clipper/Kenwood Cup have given way to record setting destination delights.
Officially the Transpacific Yacht Race (Transpac) is an offshore yacht race starting off the Pt. Fermin buoy in San Pedro, California and ending off Diamond Head in Hawaii, a distance of around 2,225 nautical miles.
The race had its origins beginning in 1906 when Clarence W. Macfarlane hosted with the Los Angeles Yacht Club to begin what has become one of yachting′s premier offshore races which attracts entrants from all over the world like the infamous Comanche and Roy Disney′s Pyewacket which has also shown up on Lake Michigan for the Mackinac event.
The race is organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club and has been made famous for being a fast downwind speed fest surfing under spinnaker through the notorious trade winds on the way to the Far East by way of Honolulu.
The 50th Transpac!
This year′s 50th Transpac to Hawaii was notorious in many respects as the push to reach 100 entrants was almost as intense as the surfing contest through the Pacific′s turquoise waters is every odd year that the race takes place and though organizers fell just a tad short of the century mark for the half-century running, the race provided many dramatic moments.
As the breeze shifted far left in overcast skies due to a strong Catalina Eddy, the last wave for the last start of 4 of the massive monohulls, plus 4 of the superfast multihulls in a record fleet of 90 yachts was underway.
These were the largest and fastest boats in the fleet and their starts were an impressive display of masterful big-boat sail handling, seamanship and tactics as they charged the line on port tack with a variety of headsail types suitable to the close reaching angle sailed to clear the West End of Catalina the only mark of the course in this 2,225-mile race.
The line was called all clear at the starting gun by Principal Race Officer Tom Trujillo and this worked out fine with the exception of John Sangmeister′s modified SC 70 OEX which set up a little too far to windward at the pin end and was boxed out by Robert DeLong′s TP 52 Conviction.
OEX bailed out with a bear-off, gybe and tack to get back on track to start the race. Soon thereafter Sangmeister, whose race would take an eventful turn posted that, “Our start, and I use our like the royal we, was to spread blame from my mistake, was not perfect. But, however, we are clawing back nicely with good straight-line speed. My wife, Sarah was again our team′s MVP helping us to get ready for the voyage. Thanks for all the love and aloha. Many miles before I sleep…”
Sangmeister and boat captain Ryan Breymaier have done extensive renovations to OEX to make her fast and optimize her rating for this race. A taller rig, larger mainsail and other changes have given this boat more punch on the Transpac course and the fastest rating in Division 2 and the team reckons the changes will be worth it.
Unfortunately, just a couple of short days later early in the morning just past 1:00 am and more than 200 miles off the California coast, OEX′s team heard a loud bang and Chuck Clay, who was driving, said that he lost steering.
Sangmeister said, “We realized that we were taking on water very quickly.” Sangmeister whose own sailing resume includes crewing on Dennis Conner′s America′s Cup winning Stars & Stripes as well as many other notable achievements on the water also owns the legendary Gladstones Restaurant in Long Beach.
They immediately radioed in a mayday and that was picked up by the Coast Guard in San Diego, as well as by Pyewacket, another boat competing in the race. Meanwhile, the OEX crew was frantically working to keep the sinking boat afloat.
“We experienced catastrophic rudder system failure, tearing a large hole in the hull of the boat,” Sangmeister wrote in an account of the harrowing evening. “We tried to plug the hole with no success. Crewmember Ryan Breymaier tried to stop the water from coming in through the hole by putting a bucket on top and sitting on it. He was blown off as if it was a geyser,” recalled Sangmeister. “Nine men, eight husbands and seven fathers were aboard OEX that fateful morning. Erik Berzins, Ryan Breymaier, Brendan Busch, Mat Bryant, Chuck Clay, Randy Smith, John Turpin, Greg Weeger remained calm and made a heroic attempt to save the boat. With waves breaking over the transom into the cockpit and Pyewacket in sight, I directed the crew to enter the rafts and abandon ship at 0220,” said Sangmeister. “We are grateful to the United States Coast Guard and the entire crew of Pyewacket for their efforts on our behalf. We have known Roy and his crew for over 35 years as friends, teammates and competitors. We hold them in the highest esteem both on and off the water. Their rescue of the OEX crew came at an extremely high personal price, their retirement from the Transpac race.”
Fortunately for the OEX crew, Pyewacket was only a few miles away and within a half an hour the OEXers saw her running lights approaching in the darkness. Skippered by Roy Disney, the grandnephew of Walt Disney, the crew of Pyewacket didn′t hesitate in making the decision to retire from the race to come to the OEX′s aid.
“I was just waking up when the radio had messages that sounded urgent, we heard it was OEX, so Benny [Mitchell] and I looked at each other and leaned in to figure out what′s going on,” said Disney. “The next part was figuring out where we were relative to them. We assumed others were closer until our navigator said they were right in front of us. It was easy to turn a little left and we were right on top of them relatively quickly. We were all powered up going 14-15 knots, so slowing down was not that easy.”
Dockside after the rescue Disney stated, “Rule number one in the race handbook is save lives. There were no other choices for us, it was the obvious thing to do. I don′t think any of us could have lived with ourselves if we′d sailed on.”
“When we saw Pyewacket′s running lights, we had four- or five-feet of water inside the boat,” said Sangmeister, who was sitting in the aft cockpit with waves breaking over the transom and onto his feet. “I said, ‘Okay boys, it′s time to go.′”
“We came across the eerie sight of a mainsail up on a boat that was going under the waves,” said Disney. “It′s a pretty tragic thing to see, and these two lifeboats tied together with flashing lights on them.”
The OEX slipped into the Pacific. According to race organizers, it marked the first time a competing vessel had sunk in the 50 Transpacs that have been run over the last 113 years. The Pyewacket crew got the OEX members on board in darkness quickly and safely and broke into their food supplies for the trip back to San Diego.
“I felt really confident that Roy and his remarkable crew would look after us once we got into the boats.” said Sangmeister.
“Which we did, we had ribs and wine!” said Disney.
“And dinner and fellowship, all 19 of us,” retorted Sangmeister. “They were more than gracious hosts.”
Sangmeister and Disney have known each other as friends and rivals for three decades in the tight-knit sailing world, and both have sailed numerous Transpacs.
“I′ve had the privilege of sailing with the Disneys for 30 years, and I′m sincerely grateful,” said Sangmeister.
With the OEX and Pyewacket retired, the Transpac sails on. This year saw a record number of boats, with 90 crossing the starting line. A record-high seven boats have had to retire already.
Sangmeister nominated Disney and the entire Pyewacket crew for the US Sailing Hanson Award, an award given for significant accomplishments in seamanship and valor.
Sangmeister has been first to finish aboard his trimaran Tritium in 2013, has won his class twice and finished third and fourth in his fleet.
“I am fortunate to have a group of guys that are really good at what they do, I really appreciate that, and John also has a group of guys that are really good at what they do too,” said Disney. “There was no panic, no distress, other than just guys getting into a lifeboat in the dark in the middle of the night in the middle of the Pacific! But everyone handled it perfectly. This is a tribute to sailors in general and our groups that it worked out the way it did.”
“No greater calling as a sportsman,” proclaimed Paul Cayard.
Legendary sailor and skipper Paul Cayard who was on Pyewacket offered this moving assessment and recounted his thoughts of the incident and the meaning of it.
“While the race was the 23rd consecutive for Pyewacket owner Roy P. Disney, this was a special race. It was the 50th anniversary of the iconic race, with 90 yachts competing. On July 13th, we left the dock in Long Beach with aspirations to win. As fate would have it, our mission this year, would be of a higher calling. After a slow first day, fighting the light southeasterly winds of a Catalina Eddy, we finally got the northwesterly gradient winds around 15:00 on Sunday the 15th and started hitting speeds of 12 knots on a heading of 220” wrote Cayard. “As night fell and a full moon rose on the cloudless sky, the wind increased to 18-20 knots and the boat speed rose to 15 knots. We were sailing with a reefed Mainsail, Genoa staysail and Blast Reacher as we passed into the early hours of Monday. At 01:55PDT, Monday, a distress call was made to the U.S. Coast Guard by the Santa Cruz 70 OEX, on channel 16. Onboard the Andrews 70 Pyewacket, Ben Mitchell, who was getting dressed for his watch, heard the call and asked out navigator Tom Addis to check on the location of OEX. We soon found out that the sinking yacht was just 3 miles and almost directly ahead of us. In an instant, and without hesitation, our mindset shifted from full race to full rescue. At 15 knots of boat speed, the target would be just 12 minutes ahead. It was dark and fairly windy. There was a lot to do!
A flare went off and we could see the strobes from life rafts containing our fellow competitors. A crew of veteran ocean racers, we slowed our boat, dropped, flaked and lashed down all three sails. We made sure all lines were out of the water before starting the engine. Doing any of the above tasks incorrectly could have rendered us useless as a rescue vessel. As we pulled up alongside and to leeward of the two rafts, we immediately asked if all of the crew were accounted for. They were. We proceeded to board the 9 sailors. We then recovered and stowed their two life rafts. The speed with which we executed the rescue made it seem benign.
Just 100 meters away, with it decks now awash, the sinking yacht, with its mainsail haplessly flapping in the darkness, looked like a ghost ship. Ten minutes after arriving on the scene and with all onboard, we asked if any of the crew were injured or hypothermic. While all 9 were in good condition, some had been waist deep in water trying to plug the giant hole in the hull where the rudder had parted company with the yacht. We got them down below and offered some dry clothes and hot drinks.”
Cayard continued: “The crew of Pyewacket maintained its watch system to operate the yacht in a professional an orderly manner, albeit toward a new destination. The Coast Guard asked Pyewacket if we were capable of getting our entire charge back to Los Angeles safely to which we responded in the affirmative. Approximately 24 hours later Pyewacket docked at Windward shipyard in Marina Del Rey with 19 souls onboard. Several of the OEX spouses were there to greet their men and all were very appreciative of Pyewacket′s efforts.
The very experience that we on Pyewacket were planning to put to use to win a race got put to use for a much higher purpose. Rather than sharing a trophy we, the crew of Pyewacket 2019, share a strong sense of camaraderie, honor and pride in rendering assistance to fellow competitors in peril. There is no greater calling as a sportsman!”
Manouch Moshayedi′s Bakewell-White 100 RIO100 has become the fastest monohull without powered performance systems to finish and in so doing she has won the Merlin Trophy, which this year was re-defined from its original criteria of being awarded to the fastest monohull of any configuration in the race.
RIO100 is the first boat in the history of Transpac to have won both the Merlin and Barn Door Trophies. Asked how he felt about this, Manouch said “It feels fantastic, I′m going to go down the list of trophies, one by one!”
After the same slow start that plagued all Saturday starters this year, Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant′s VPLP 100 Comanche still managed to sneak out of the light air, get into the offshore breeze, and sail on to be first to finish in Honolulu.
For being the first monohull to cross the finish line at Diamond Head, the Comanche team will win the coveted First to Finish carved slab of Hawaiian Koa wood known as the Barn Door Trophy. From 2009-2017 this award was given only to yachts with no powered systems but was re-dedicated this year for monohull yachts of all sizes and types.
“This is a fantastic feeling to be here in Hawaii on this great yacht,” said Cooney on finishing his first Transpac. “Four months ago, we committed to this race when the rig came out of the boat in Australia to ship to California, and we′ve been working hard to make this happen ever since.”
Navigator, Stan Honey has been on many Barn Door-winning boats, and says the award is appropriate to represent the boat that is not only fast but also uses the latest in technology to achieve performance.
“The winners of the Barn Door Trophy represent the progress of technology in the history of offshore sailing,” said Honey. “Like Dorade, Storm Vogel, Windward Passage and Merlin, Comanche very much deserves to be part of this history.”
The race start was difficult for Maserati Multi 70: the weather models suggested a northern route, to sail around a low-pressure zone with 3-6 knots of wind, before reaching the trade wind, stable around 17 knots. Unfortunately, the center of the depression moved south three hours later than anticipated, blocking the way for the Italian trimaran while Argo was able to pass by just a few miles. PowerPlay, who was only 5 miles behind the American trimaran, got stuck in the low pressure and Argo was able to gain 100 miles of advantage.
Once it reached the trade wind, Maserati Multi 70′s team started chasing its competitors, with full main and gennaker, but shortly after a serious accident forced them to slow down.
Maserati hit an unidentified object as skipper Giovanni Soldini, explained, “The left side bow hit a huge floating object and we immediately went from 24 to 0 knots! The debris then hit the side rudder: the fuse system worked, the rudder rotated horizontally, but the object was at least one meter high above the water and it ripped off the outer half of the rudder′s wing. In the impact we also lost the left steering rod.”
The Italian Team had to stop for one hour, to assess the extent of the damage and to get the rudder system back in use. Thanks to the fuse system, the rudder′s blade and bushings were unharmed.
“Once we set sail again,” explained Soldini, “we weren′t able to reach the same speed as before: without the rudder′s foil it was difficult to fly steadily and every time the left bow hit the water we slowed down. We tried everything we could, but it was impossible to go faster than 25 knots and our competitors, sailing an average 3 knots faster, outdistanced us.”
The Italian trimaran had to sail a long starboard tack on that hull because without the left rudder′s foil, it′s really difficult to control Maserati Multi 70′s longitudinal trim: the trimaran tends to rear up before falling back in the water just like a wild horse, and the speed is obviously affected by it.
The J/125 Hamachi was the overall winner of this year′s Transpac and co-owner Jason Andrews walks us thru the dramatic final day.
“The wind continued to increase to 20 knots and clock slowly right and the whole team was focused on burning down the miles to the finish,” wrote Andrews. “We approached Molokai on a tear at 17-19 knots and gybed right towards the infamous Molokai Channel. Luckily it was fairly tame that evening and the team threw down six perfect gybes to get around Molokai, across the channel and lined up for Diamond Head.
We reached across the finish line at 16 knots at 2:21 a.m. to complete the race in 8 days 16 hours and 21 minutes, which gives us a corrected time of 08:00:52:37, the winning time for us to claim first place overall!
It′s been a hell of an adventure and one that will not be repeated anytime soon. We were fortunate to start on the right day (July 12) and the high pressure materialized in a manner that allowed us to power reach the whole way to Hawaii in winds that averaged between 15-20 knots. We never saw winds above 22 knots except for a few minutes, and always between midnight and 2 a.m. to make it more exciting.”
The race finished on a sad note. Jim Lincoln, loving husband and prominent member of the Long Beach sailing community, passed away in his sleep at the age of 61 a few days after finishing. He was onboard Chubasco during the race.
The Twelves Rule The Waves In Newport!
The gathering brings about the most intense competition ever when 22 of these yachts are considered some of the most iconic in the history of sailboat design and spanning the decades between the 1920s and 1980s.
It was unprecedented and awesome to see so many 12-meters together on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound,” said 12-Meter Worlds Event Chair Peter Gerard, “And it will be even more spectacular next week when another six 12-meters join the racing, making it the largest gathering of the Twelves since the 2001 America′s Cup Jubilee.”
The 12-meters, most famous as America′s Cup boats but also with ties to the Olympics in the early 1900s, are divided into divisions based mainly on when they were built. They are Grand Prix (for 12-meters built between 1983 and 1987 with winged keels), Modern (1967-1983), Traditional (1958-1964) and Vintage (1907-1958).
The Bay Area′s Dick Enerson was on board Defender, which raced in the 1983 Defense Trials with an all-star cast at the time that included Tom Blackaller and Gary Jobson. The team never got the boat going right and eventually fell not only to Dennis Conner′s Liberty, but also its stablemate Courageous.
They performed well here as Enerson attested to, “Thanks again to everyone who sailed on, worked on, supported, or cheered for, Defender during the Worlds!
It was a terrific experience for us, and brought a great deal of awareness, and some much needed $, to Warrior Sailing.”
Warrior Sailing provides maritime education and outreach for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. They facilitate opportunities for skill development and building partnerships between the military and marine communities. Using sailing as a platform, Warrior Sailing positively impacts the participant′s physical and mental health while reconnecting them with the camaraderie and teamwork previously found in military service.
“For a team assembled in 6 weeks, on a boat we′d never sailed, I think we did a creditable job, and we certainly had a lot of fun,” said Enerson, who sailed on Constellation in the 1964 America′s Cup. “In addition to the excitement and intensity of racing a 12-meter against determined opposition, it has been an honor and privilege to sail in support of Warrior Sailing.
In the serendipity department, one of our crew is a veteran of the WS program. Anthony Villalobos did two combat tours with the 101st Airborne and was wounded badly in each. He started sailing with the WS program in Charleston and has been racing on increasingly bigger and better boats these past five years. Anthony was on the handles with us, and proved to be one of the strongest, sturdiest, and most responsive grinders in the crew.
In a final act of heroism, after the final race, when the chase boat came alongside with the beer, our man saved the day with a one-handed grab of the cooler, which would otherwise have ended up in the drink.”
The sum up of racing goes like this as a front carrying torrential rain passed through prior to the 4th day of racing, the weather gods graciously delivered sunshine and fresh 10-12 knot smoky southwesterly to Rhode Island Sound for the penultimate day of the event.
Claiming an early overall victory today in the four-boat Vintage Division was Italian Patrizio Bertelli′s Nyala (US-12) with Mauro Pelaschier at the helm. Pelaschier also won the 2009 12-meter World Championship with Nyala and was the skipper of Azzurra in the 1986 America′s Cup races.
After winning both races today in tricky conditions that included negotiating big swells, Nyala′s nearly-perfect score line (all firsts and one second) added up to nine points, with no way for Onawa (US-6), its closest competitor with 18 points, to mathematically pass it tomorrow in the single race that has been planned.
“This (winning) is my birthday present because I just became 70 years old,” said Pelaschier, after popping a champagne cork back at the dock. A three-time Olympian, he also helmed Azzurra (I-4), the first Italian challenger for the America′s Cup, in Newport during the 1983 America′s Cup. “It is fantastic to see so many 12-meters together and to see the restoration of these boats and how competitive they are.” He pointed out that Nyala′s gear is all original from 1938. “The coffee grinder and winches are small and not easy to manage, but the crew is so good (mostly from Azzurra) and we are preserving history.”
Nyala came to the 12-meter Worlds with the Grand Prix Kookaburra II (KA-12), also owned by Bertelli who CEO of the Prada fashion is group and primary backer of the Challenger of Record (Luna Rossa) for the 36th America′s Cup. Bertelli has been crewing aboard Kookaburra II, while five-time Olympic Medalist Torben Grael has been behind her wheel.
Said Pelaschier: “We know both boats are competitive, but we must continue to improve them, because we will be racing with them for a long time and plan to be at the 12-Meter Worlds next year.”
With Nyala (US-12) having clinched her series early in the Vintage Division after a sweep of the last two races, it came down to a single race to determine World Champions in Grand Prix, Modern and Traditional Divisions.
A 12 Meter Spirit Division also sailed, but with no World Championship at stake. Competing in total were 21 historic 12-meter yachts from six countries. It was the largest fleet ever gathered in North America.
In the fiercely contested eight-boat Modern Division, the stakes were high for Challenge XII (KA-10), owned and skippered by Jack LeFort of Jamestown, R.I. The team had been disqualified after a protest hearing with Courageous (US-26), sailed by a Newport contingent led by Ralph Isham, Steve Glascock, Alexander Auersperg, Ward Marsh and Art Santry (helmsman).
Falling from first overall to second, Challenge XII was tied on point score with third-place Courageous and two points behind Enterprise (US-27), helmed by Clay Deutsch of Newport.
Going into the final race LeFort knew that to win his division, he had to beat Courageous and put a boat between his team and Enterprise. He did that and more, closing out Courageous at the start and going on to win the race with a buffer of three boats on Enterprise. (Enterprise and Courageous would end up second and third, respectively.)
“We were obviously pretty low after getting thrown out last night (for tacking too close to Courageous at a mark),” said LeFort after racing. “We had to get everybody focused to keep doing what we′ve been doing.” With today′s victory, Challenge XII counted five first-place finishes in its nine-race series.
In the Grand Prix Division, where four boats from three countries competed, Denmark′s Legacy (KZ-5), helmed by Thomas Andersen with Jesper Bank serving as tactician, took the World Championship title with a one-point lead over New Zealand (KZ-3), owned by Gunther and Maggie Buerman of Newport, R.I. and co-helmed by fellow Newporter Brad Read and Lexi Gahagan of Wilmington, Deleware.
As close as it was, however, Legacy had the series pretty much wrapped up. “We had to be very calm, enjoy the race and not be too hard working,” said Andersen, who counts this as his first time ever sailing a 12-meter. “Even if we finished fourth, we′d still win; we just couldn′t get disqualified or break down.”
Andersen said that Legacy, New Zealand and Kookaburra II (KA-12), owned by Patrizio Bertelli and helmed by Brazil′s Torben Grael, all seemed to be the same speed. “They were very fast, and we were lucky to beat them,” he said. “We could have easily been in third place.”
Columbia (US-16), the America′s Cup defender in 1958 was chartered by Anthony Chiurco of Princeton, N.J., and helmed by owner Kevin Hegarty of Newport took the World title in the Traditional Division after winning today′s final race. “We only had to make sure we beat Nefertiti (US-19), but before racing we talked about whether we should cover Nefertiti or just try to win,” said Hegarty.
“We voted on going for it all and getting a first-place finish. We′re pretty psyched; we made many improvements to the boat over the winter and really prepared for this championship. It paid off.” Nefertiti, owned and helmed by Jon Sears Wullschleger of Sarasota, Fla. finished third overall, while American Eagle (US-21), sailed by the Eagle 2019 Syndicate of Middletown, R.I., finished second.
Even though she didn′t have to sail today, Italian Patrizio Bertelli′s Vintage Division entrant Nyala took to the racecourse to post her eighth victory in nine races. “We sailed a proper race, fought hard and learned something more in today′s bigger winds (13-16 knots) and waves,” said helmsman Mauro Pelaschier. “It was great training for next week at the New York Yacht Club′s 175th Anniversary Regatta (serving as the 12-meter Jubilee).
The oldest 12-meter in the regatta was Onawa (US-6), built in 1928 and sailed by a syndicate led by Jim Blanusha, Steven Gewirz, Louis Girard, Earl McMillen and Mark Watson of Newport, R.I. She finished second in the Vintage Division.
In the 12 Meter Spirit Division America II (US-42), skippered by Michael Fortenbaugh of Jersey City, N.J. won by one point over America II (US-46), its stable mate from the New York Harbor Sailing Foundation, skippered by Scott Curtis of New York, NY.
The series, which culminated at the Worlds, started three years ago and included 28 regattas sailed in five countries. Based on participation and performance, Courageous accumulated 102 points to finish first, while Challenge XII took second with 99 points and Victory ′83 (K-22) followed in third with 98 points.
This morning before the last day of racing, the International Parade of 12-meters looped through Newport Harbor, giving shore-side fans a close view of the historic fleet and their teams. With battle flags flying and crew members in uniform, the parade finished at Ida Lewis Yacht Club where the cheering crowds were especially appreciative.
Each 12 was given a cannon salute as it turned and headed out to the racecourse on Rhode Island Sound.
The Port Huron
Mackinac Island′s other race had its share of drama this year as challenges awaited at every turn to determine the outcome of the annual Bell′s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race. Media Pro, Barby MacGowan amazingly made her way there after what was an exhausting week in Newport to offer this assessment; as while last year was a drifter, this year was anything but for the 202 boats competing.
The 95th running of the longest consecutively held freshwater race in the country started Saturday, July 20 at noon on lower Lake Huron and served up a little bit of everything on its way to the finish line at Mackinac Island.
“It included reaching, running, a lot of beating, and a pretty nasty storm thrown in on Saturday evening,” said Bill Martin (Ann Arbor, Mich.), the skipper of the Santa Cruz 70 Stripes, which won its Class B and took overall victory in Division 1 after sailing the Cove Island Course of 259 nautical miles. Stripes turned in an elapsed time of 32:09:33.
Martin now has 51 of these races under his sailing belt and attested to a good mix of challenging conditions being more typical of the event than not, especially since the Cove Island course takes a radical hitch from the northeast to the west roughly halfway through. “The beat after Cove Island Buoy (the turning mark) was pretty darn tough; it was an honest 100 plus miles with winds in the mid-20s for a while. It had been a spinnaker reach/broad reach up until then, interspersed with the entertainment of the storm.”
According to Bell′s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race Chairman, Robert Nutter, the storm dumped torrential rain for three hours straight and harbored gusts in excess of 50 knots. “There were some breakdowns, but most everyone persevered and enjoyed a great race with average wind speeds of 15-20 knots.”
A total of 20 classes sailed in three divisions at the 2019 Bell′s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, which prides itself on being one of the most spirited events on the Great Lakes. On Friday night (July 19), participants lined the Black River in Port Huron, Michigan, which lies across from Sarnia, Ontario with their boats to participate in Boat Night.
After finishing the somewhat treacherous race, the skippers and crews found their way to the Pink Pony of course and then onto the giant awards party and concert on the grounds of Mackinac Island′s Grand Hotel.
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