With just 2 days to go before the first start, sailors from Annapolis to Ottawa, Concord to Cambridge and Seattle to Sarasota are set to converge at Newport MetreFest 2017, an exciting new regatta for International Rule sailing yachts including 2.4mR, 6mR, 8mR and 12mRs.

From the sprightly single-handed 2.4mRs at just over 13 feet long to the majestic 12mRs ranging from 64-70 feet in length raced by crews of 17 sailors—these former and present-day Olympic and America’s Cup development classes will hold center stage at New York Yacht Club’s 163rd Annual Regatta from June 9-11. MetreFest also has the distinction of being the first North American regatta of the International Twelve Metre Association’s Road to the Worlds Waypoints Series, a three-year International 12mR competition culminating with the 2019 12mR World Championship in Newport, RI.

Long time metre boat sailor Jamie Hilton, who helped conceive the idea of a “MetreFest”, is gratified to see the idea come to fruition. “Since I first started sailing on Courageous, US-26 in 2004 and have been actively racing the 6 Metre Lucie, US-55 since 2011 as well as on the Grand Prix 12 Metre New Zealand, K-Z3 the last few years, I’ve appreciated both the diversity and similarity of all International Rule yachts and sailors,” said Hilton. “The idea behind the MetreFest was to bring sailors from as many International Rule classes as possible together for a weekend of sailing, socializing and storytelling. Shared ‘war stories’ are always a big topic of interest under any regatta tent, but at MetreFest they will be of America’s Cup and Olympic proportions!”

Close mark roundings are a matter of course for Newport’s competitive 12mR fleet.
(photo: SallyAnne Santos | WindlassCreative.com)

The historic gathering at MetreFest will include past and present champions from each of their respective classes. Four of the ten anticipated 12mR entries are America’s Cup winners– Weatherly, US-17 (1962), Intrepid, US-22 (1967 & 1970), Courageous, US-26 (1974, 1977), and Freedom US-30 (1980). Also competing are American Eagle US-21, made famous by Ted Turner as a winning ocean-racer, Ted Hood’s innovative Nefertiti, US-19 and two of the three infamous Kiwi ‘plastic fantastics,’ New Zealand, KZ-3 and Laura, KZ-5 round out the 12mR fleet. Additionally, much anticipation surrounds the return-to-racing debut of 2016 12mR North American Champion, Dennis Williams’ newly restored Defender US-33.

A very competitive 6mR fleet will be comprised primarily of classic designs including SYCE, US-14 (1922), MadCap, US-21 (1924), Clytie II, US-33 (1927), Lucie, US-55 (1931), Flapper, N-17 (1939) and Newport’s own Cherokee US-53 (2009/1930). Discovery, USA-109 (1978) represents modern era Sixes.

The 6mR fleet last converged at Newport en masse for their 2009 World Cup.
(photo: SallyAnne Santos | WindlassCreative.com)
Close-packed, close-hauled and close-to-the-water, 2.4mRs beat to the weather mark.

 MetreFest is also very proud to host seventeen of the Paralympics 2.4mR class boats racing on their own circle, supported by Ida Lewis Yacht Club. “A highlight of the weekend will be watching this nimble fleet race around Rose Island on Friday,” said MetreFest’s 2.4mR Principal Race Officer, Dr. Robin Wallace. The 2.4mRs will be based at Sail Newport’s Fort Adams docks starting on Thursday, June 8 through the Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Regatta in which they will also compete from June 21-25.

Event partner, Sail Newport is providing dockage for all of the MetreFest entries at their Fort Adams facility, enabling both sailors and spectators to walk the docks and appreciate the development of racing yacht design from vintage through modern boats up close. The public is invited to view the MetreFest fleet (before and after racing daily) free of charge. More info at: https://metrefest.com/

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).