THE 12 METER NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS 2017 ARE/WERE SCHEDULED FOR 9/21-24. HOWEVER HURRICANE JOSÉ IS PARKED OFF THE NEW ENGLAND COAST AND DISRUPTING PLANS. YESTERDAY WE HAD GUSTS OF 42+ KNOTS; RACING IS CANCELLED FOR FRIDAY AND A DETERMINATION WILL BE MADE ON SATURDAY MORNING; ALL WEATHER DEPENDENT.
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the launching and first successful defense by the 12 meter “Intrepid”. It also marks the second successful defense by the 12 meter “Courageous”. Each boat successfully defended the America’s Cup twice. Only one other boat can lay claim to that fact. That was “Columbia” 1899 & 1901. She is no longer with us.
Forty years ago about this date we towed to Newport for the start of the selection trials to defend the America’s Cup.
We had had a small regatta in Marblehead over the Memorial day weekend in which “Courageous” was faster on every point of sail. Reggie Pierce looked up from the grinder handles and quipped: “It’s going to be a long summer”. Those words proved to be prophetic.
“Independence” was supposed to be the anointed defender. The rest is history.
A reunion of the crews from 1964 and 1974 America’s Cup defenders was a wonderful event filled with tales of the past. All made possible by Jimmy Gubelmann, as I like to call him the glue that binds. I heard stories that I had not heard before and a few I knew.
Mariner, Courageous, Intrepid, Valiant were represented from 1974 and Constellation and American Eagle from 1964.
The memories are still vivid thanks to the photographs. When we received the plans from S&S by courier,(this is a story itself) The courier arrived at the yard not knowing where to go, fell on me and asked if I would sign for the package, which I did. I always wondered what might have happened if the plans had been delivered somewhere else. It was the drawings for what would be “Courageous”.
We had been preparing the loft and the space where she would be lofted and built, all in the same building. When we started lofting, we could not make the transitional areas, near the rudder post, fair. When we broke the battens, it worked. As you can see from the filler in front of the rudder, there was no way we were going to wrap the aluminum that tightly. Two different shapes fit together at the rudder post. The centerline of the rudder post was also the end of the waterline.
This would be the first aluminum 12 meter ever built, It was a big transition at the time. Looking back for someone who had not lived through that era, they certainly would scoff; given what is now capable with carbon. I also felt that it was the first time I saw efforts to make the boats user friendly, big turning blocks. The twin steering wheels with trim tab wheel and lock were the next step from “Intrepid’s” trim tab and steering.
“Courageous” would sport a “c” stay, “Mariner” a twinstay, and “Intrepid” hanks. There was still so much room for improvement.