Contributed by 12 Metre World Championship
After a front carrying torrential rain passed through overnight, the Weather Gods graciously delivered sunshine and fresh 10-12 knot breezes to Rhode Island Sound for the fourth and penultimate day of the 2019 12 Metre World Championship. Hosted by Ida Lewis Yacht Club and organized by the International Twelve Metre Association’s (ITMA) Americas Fleet, the event has seen 21 historic 12 Metres from six countries – the largest fleet ever gathered in North America – locked in battle for championship titles in four divisions (Grand Prix, Modern, Traditional and Vintage), while a fifth division (12 Metre Spirit) has also raced.
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 Metre World Championship with Nyala and showed his intent to rise again when he walked away with victory at last week’s 12 Metre Pre-Worlds. (Nyala also won the 12 Metre Worlds in 2014 but without Pelaschier at the helm.) 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 Metres 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 fromAzzurra) and we are preserving history.”
Nyala came to the 12 Metre Worlds with the Grand Prix Kookaburra II (KA-12),also owned by Bertelli who is CEO of the Prada fashion 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 G rael 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 Metre Worlds next year.”
At press time, Kookaburra II, which won a race both today and yesterday, was in third place; however, protests are pending in her Grand Prix Division, where Legacy (KZ-5) is leading and New Zealand (KZ-3) is three points behind in second.
Protests also are pending in the Modern and Traditional Divisions, where Challenge XII (KA-10) and Columbia (US-16) are leading, respectively.
Last night’s 12 Metre Yacht Club Dinner Dance, the centerpiece of the regatta’s after-racing social engagements, hosted more than 400 guests for an elegant sit-down dinner at the Marble House mansion, followed by dessert and dancing to a live band.
Tomorrow, the International Parade of 12 Metres will take place prior to the final race, with all the boats following a parade route that starts from Fort Adams (where the Sail Newport Sailing Center is located) and winds around to various vantage points in Newport Harbor, including the New York Yacht Club, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Bannister’s and Bowen’s Wharf, Newport Yacht Club, and Gurney’s Resort and Marina.
The 2019 12 Metre World Championship is sponsored by Château d’Esclans -Whispering Angel, Grand Banks Yachts,Gurney’s Marina and Resort, MJM Yachts, North Sails and Vhernier Milano. Official suppliers include Bacardi, Barton & Gray Mariners Club, Code Zero, Harborside Marina, Helly Hansen Newport, McMillen Yachts, Quantum Sails, Robbe & Berking Classics, Sevenstar Yacht Transport, Stella Artois and Trident Studio. Event venue partners are Clarke Cooke House, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, International Yacht Restoration School, Newport Shipyard, Sail Newport andSeamen’s Church Institute. For more information please visit: https://12mrworlds.com/partners/