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1977 America's Cup winner Courageous at Newport Race Week

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A 12- racing brings top competitors to Newport

25th July 2018

More than three decades after its starring role in the America's Cup came to a close, the 12 Metre class continues to intrigue sailors and spectators with its competitive racing off Newport, R.I.

"Everything came together for a great week. Having all the classes racing at the same time made was a unique twist for this edition. We had over 100 years of yachting history sharing the waters of Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound. The combination of great weather, great competition and beautiful boats, culminating in an awesome awards banquet, made the 11th Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex a memorable week for all who participated. It is not too early to plan to come in 2020," said event chari Robbie (Roberta) Benjamin.

With nine of the historic yachts, including three America's Cup champions and competitors taking part in the 11th edition of Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex this past weekend, top sailors on board the classic 12s throughout the regatta. Founder of Doyle Sailmakers Robbie Doyle competed on the 12 metre “Courageous” as tactician and strategist and has competed in a number of 12 metre championship. Doyle was the main trimmer on Courageous when she won the 1977 America's Cup and continues to regularly sail on the yacht.

“We look forward to this biennial event in Newport and with the 12 Metre World Championship set for next summer in Newport, the class has become increasingly competitive which is a great thing,” Doyle said.

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Copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

In addition to the Traditional Division, five 12 Metre yachts raced in the Modern Division. Jack LeFort's Challenge 12, participant in the 1983 Challenger trials, raced against Defender, who sailed in the defender trials in 1980; two-time America's Cup winner Courageous; as well 1980 America's Cup winner, Freedom.

For this regatta, Jack LeFort’s Challenge 12 was the class of the group, winning five of seven races for a 6-point victory over Dennis Williams’ Defender.

“It was a fabulous regatta, terrific racing,” says LeFort. “There’s not a lot of difference between the boats. We’re all finishing within a minute of each other and sometimes just a few seconds. It could be a shift here or there, a little boat speed here or there. It’s a toss-up.”

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Copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

The New York Yacht Club’s Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex was first run in 1998, and will take place July 17 to 21 out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, in Newport. R.I. The biennial summer classic has established itself as one of the premier summer race weeks in the Northeast thanks to its attractive combination of great racing conditions off Newport and the superlative shoreside hospitality at the Club’s waterfront Clubhouse overlooking Newport Harbor. Partners for the 2018 edition of Race Week at Newport include presenting sponsor Rolex, regatta sponsor BMW and regatta supporter Helly Hansen.

"We had a pretty strong showing at the Annual Regatta, but that doesn't reflect how close the racing is in the Traditional class," says Robert Morton, who will skipper American Eagle (above right) in a four-boat division comprised of 12 Metre yachts built before 1968. "We had good starts and sailed smart. It is amazing how a small advantage can make a big difference in the outcome of a race."

"We have created a syndicate called Eagle 2019 which, in 2018, is chartering the boat for Annual Regatta, Race Week at Newport, the Edgartown 12 Metre Regatta and the North Americans," says Morton. "We will also charter her for all of the regattas leading up to and including the Worlds in 2019. I am steering the boat, but we have a group of people who have raced American Eagle over the past several years. Our goal is to use the 2018 regattas to learn the boat and prepare for the 2019 season with a class win in the Worlds being our ultimate objective."

Newport1
Copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

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