I have joined Bill Koch’s team here in Cannes for the 12 Meter World Championship next week. Yesterday was my first day on a 12 meter since 1987. Talk about a time warp. Of course the wind has been light here in Cannes so that makes the sensation of sailing a 12 meter even more distinctive.
Relative to the current class of America’s Cup yachts, the predecessor class weighs about 7 tons more, is 5 meters shorter, is wider, has 1 meter less draft and about half the sail area. Does that sound underpowered? Well in 4 knots if wind, it really feels like it.
There are about 20 12 meters here. Everything from 1945 vintage boats to the last ones built for Fremantle. Bill Koch owns Kiwi Magic and this boat along with the likes of Kookaburra, South Australia, KZ3 and KZ5, races in the grand prix division. Then the boats like Freedom, Courageous, etc. race in the modern division and then there are the classics. These boats have pretty lines and are majestic to look at. Most of the older wooden ones are in perfect shape and they are truly beautiful!
Today and tomorrow we are racing the “pre-worlds”, a tune up regatta. In fact today’s race was SNG’s “annual regatta”. SNG is the club from which Alinghi challenges for the America’s Cup and under the deed of gift, they must hold an annual regatta on the sea. Today’s race was called the Centennial Race and by chance we managed to win it. It was an extremely light air event, with the wind rarely getting over 5 knots. Also the course was a coastal course so we were essentially doing a lap of the bay. The wind died and the second to last buoy, so the committee spared us some pain by cutting off the last 3 miles of the race.
Tomorrow there will be two “windward-leeward” races and Tuesday the World Championship starts. Also starting on Tuesday and racing through Saturday will be the Regate Royal with about 70 vintage yachts of all sizes and designs. These boats are beautiful and lie somewhere between a piece of furniture and a historical item. The fleet moves onto St. Tropez the week after this for the grand finale of the season.
Among the current AC names racing; Torben Grael and his brother Lars are sailing KZ3 and James Spithill and the Prada team are sailing Kookaburra 2.
I’ll give you some more accurate information starting tomorrow.