Almost like trophies themselves, more than a hundred of the coveted
12 Metre sailing vessels are know to exist.
Many of the original one hundred-seventy "twelves" have succumbed
to hurricanes, violent storms, and rough seas; while others have
suffered the ravages of time and weather. The fates and whereabouts
of some are still unknown, yet with each passing year, 12 Metres
move from the lost column to the found column and are lovingly restored
to their original glory.
Built between 1907, when the sailing class was defined, and 1987,
when 12 Metres last sailed for the America's Cup, nearly 75 remain
afloat and two are showcased in museums. One of the earliest ever
built, Mouchette, in 1908, is in a maritime museum in Argentina and
one of the latest, Alan Bond's 1983 Australia
II, is in the Fremantle
Maritime Museum in western Australia.
12s were constructed in the UK.Of the fifty built there, nearly half
still exist. Twenty-one of those were built prior to 1930 and only
a handful (5) are known to remain. Lady
Edith is one of those boats
that recently moved from the lost to found category. Built in Greenock,
UK in 1925, Lady Edith, was discovered comfortably berthed in Istanbul,
Turkey, in fullyrestored condition. Other remarkable finds include:
Australia III and Australia
IV in Miri, Borneo in 2008 after the
current owner bought them from a syndicate in Japan, and Heart
of America, built in Newport in 1986 was found in sailing condition
in Gocek Bay, Turkey in 2007. In stark contrast to these survivors,
is another from the UK, Jenetta ~ K1, built in 1939. While Jenetta is still afloat in Pitt Lake, Vancouver Canada, she is awaiting restoration.
The NewYork Yacht Club ordered the first six 12 Metres to fly a
US burgee in 1928.
Designed by an American, they were miraculously all delivered within
five short months from a German shipyard. Of those half-dozen vessels,
only two remain: sister ships Anitra ~ US 5 and Onawa ~ US 6.
Anitra, now back in Germany, was restored last year and is due to
be relaunched this summer. The provenance of Onawa is
well documented. After changing ports many times, her current owner,
Earl McMillen of Newport, Rhode Island, bought the boat and performed
various restorations so she could participate in the 2001 America’s
Cup Jubilee in Cowes, England. Onawa,
the oldest known American twelve, is part of the largest 12 Metre
fleet in the world. The Americas Fleet currently boasts a total of
32 yachts of which 19 call Newport home.
The most recent arrival is Victory
'83, who came to Newport in late
2007 from a French shipyard and has gone through an extensive restoration.
Perhaps the most dramatic
rescue stories of Newport
twelves are those of Gleam, Northern
Light and Nefertiti. Gleam was
resurrected from the bottom of a New Jersey river by the late Newporter
Bob Tiedemann in 1976. He also purchased Gleam’s 1938 sister
ship, Northern Light, at auction after years of being submerged in
a lake in Michigan. Northern Light was merely a shell.But, after an extensive search, her original mast and boom were
found and reinstalled.
The twelve tomake the longest journey back To Newport was Nefertiti. Found abandoned in a salt pond in South Africa by George and Lindsey
Hill in 1996, the Hills had to virtually rebuild her before sailing
Since the noble Newport rescues, the number
of twelves in the Baltic fleet is growing by leaps and bounds.
There is a considerablemovement in Northern Europe to restore the
classic yachts. Originally launched inHamburg,Germany in 1938,
the 12 Metre Sphinx was restored by its current owner, Oliver Berking,
in 2008. Berking has become so enamoured with his results that
he has founded Robbe & Berking Classics
in the north German town of Flensburg in order to restore and build
replicas of exceptional yachts designed years ago. Another yacht
soon to join the Baltic racing scene is Blue
Marlin, built at the
Camper & Nicholson Gosport Yard in the UK and launched as Alanna in 1937. Like Berking, the new owner, Henrik Andersin, has built
a very impressive “Wooden Boat Center” in Kotka, Finland,
to restore a wide variety of classic yachts, not the least to include
Blue Marlin whose launch date is expected sometime in 2010.
Other recent restorations around the world include: La
in Italy in 1929 and Gretel II, built in 1970.
Sadly, several yachts have succumbed to the
permanent “lost” column
in the past few years: Skeaf V,
built in Schleswig, Germany in 1912, called Chichester Harbour, UK
home last but was destroyed in 2008. That same year,USA~E1, built
in California in 1983, was scuttled and the early 1980s vintage Advance,
built in Australia, was also scuttled in 2007.
After nearly twenty stagnant years of 12 Metre
construction the latest edition to the class is Kate. Built on
the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and launched in 2006, she is
a replica of the 1909 12 Metre, Javotte, that was lost during a
hurricane.Named after the owner’s wife, perhaps Kate will
begin a new 12Metre trend in the sailing community.