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Nothing lights up local waters like the 12 Metres from the Golden Era of America’s Cup racing, six of the sleek historical yachts will sail on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound in the 12 Metre North Americans sponsored by Bai.
Just like during Cups held here in the ‘70s and ‘80s, visitors to Bannister’s Wharf can catch the fleet and racing teams dockside before and after racing on Friday, September 25 through Sunday, September 27, and those with the means by which to get on the water can indulge in a breathtaking ballet presented by these beautiful boats that are lovingly restored by owners who consider themselves privileged caretakers of the past.
Returning as 12 Metre North American defending champions are Gunther Buerman (Newport, R.I.) and his team aboard KZ-3, Dennis Williams (Hobe Sound, Fla.) with Victory ’83 and Herb Marshall (Barnstable, Mass.) with American Eagle, sailing respectively in divisions for Grand Prix (yachts built from 1983-1987), Modern (yachts built from 1967-1983), and Traditional (yachts built from 1958-1967). (Victory ’83 and American Eagle also won their classes at the 12 Metre Worlds when that event was last held here in Newport in 2009.)
Rounding out the fleet are Jack Curtin’s (New York, N.Y.) Intrepid and Ralph Isham’s (New York, N.Y.)Courageous in Modern Division and Kip Curren’s (Newport, R.I.) KZ-5/Laura in Grand Prix.
Up for grabs are the Bai Trophy for best overall performance, the Gubelmann Trophy for winners in each division at the North Americans and the Ted Hood Trophy for highest points overall for specific regattas during the season. On Thursday night, competitors gather for dinner at the 12 Metre Yacht Club on the top floor of the Clarke Cook House where the Ted Turner Trophy will be awarded to the individual who has done the most to help develop the 12 Metre class in the prior year. Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Organizing Authority of the event, hosts Friday night’s bison dinner – made possible by America’s Cup legend Ted Turner who donates the meat from his ranch – and Sunday’s final Bai Awards Ceremony.
Bai Brands, based in a Princeton, N.J. manufacturers all-natural antioxidant infusion drinks. It is the new title sponsor for the event, while Coppola Winery and the Turner Foundation are returning sponsors.
12 Metres were the iconic boat of choice for the America’s Cup races from 1958 through 1987. The aura of mystique that envelops these classic yachts has created a vibrant class association with large and competitive fleets on the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas, as well as on the USA’s northeast coast, especially in Newport, Rhode Island, which was home to the America’s Cup for 12 editions (nine sailed in the Twelves) between 1930 and 1987.