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27 September 2006, 09:36 am
Champions Named
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12 Metre North American Championship 2006
Newport, Rhode Island, USA

A dozen 12 Metres competed off Newport, Rhode Island, USA, from 21-24 September in the International 12 Metre Association's (ITMA) 2006 North American Championships sponsored by The Jibe. A final stormy day mellowed enough for completion of the final three races, which determined North American champions in four classes: Grand Prix, Modern, Classic Traditional and Classic Vintage.
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The event's organizing authority was Newport's Museum of Yachting while its host was Bannister's Wharf, where the 12 Metres were docked in a scene reminiscent of America's Cups past. (The last time the 12 Metres raced for the America's Cup in Newport was in 1983 when Australia II narrowly beat Liberty, ending the longest winning streak -132 years - in modern sports history.)

In two days of moderate to brisk breezes, six races were held. Racing on the third day was not to be, when the wind roared at 30 knots and the fleet - after a wishful trip to the race course - was sent back home by the Race Committee. For the final day the wind dropped enough to allow the decisive races to be held.

Newport's Clay DEUTSCH (USA), the defending North American Champion in Classic Traditional class sailing Weatherly, said he could not have prevailed over American Eagle, steered by Tony CHIURCO (USA), if only two races had been held on the final day.

'They would have beat us on a tie breaker, if that had been the case,' said DEUTSCH. 'In the third race we were basically match racing. We were nose to nose at the start and we poked out on them a little, then we squatted on them the rest of the race. They were very even with us in speed during the entire regatta, so we knew that the last race would be a true America's Cup experience for us either way: we would go home the champs or the chumps.' As it was, Weatherly edged out American Eagle by only a single point.

Courageous Defends Title

In the Modern division, 2005 North American Champion Courageous, owned by Craig MILLARD (USA), successfully defended its title with Newporter Jamie HILTON (USA) steering. Courageous is noteworthy not only as the first 12 Metre to be built of aluminium alloy but also as having raced in more America's Cup campaigns (five) than any other. Though the boat posted victories in all but one race, the competition was still close with the three other 12 Metres in its class. 'The way these 12s are,' said Courageous crew and syndicate member Jimmy GUBELMANN (USA). 'Certain ones thrive in different conditions. For this regatta, we actually thrived in heavy air, a little bit of light air and everything in between.'

The 12 Metre Class's 2005 World Champion (and North American Champion in Grand Prix class) Edgar CATO (USA), won Grand Prix division aboard Hissar, with Newporter Brad READ (USA) at the helm. The team won six of its nine races.

America's Cup Veterans Compete

A host of America's Cup veterans competed, including Bill KOCH (USA), who drove Kiwi Magic to third in Grand Prix division behind Roger WRIGHT's Brazilian entry Wright on White, steered by Lars GRAEL (BRA).

In addition to the North American titles at stake, The Museum of Yachting's Ted Hood Perpetual Trophy was presented to the yachts with the best records for the 2006 season as determined by six American qualifying regattas. The winners were Onawa, owned by Earl MCMILLEN (USA) and Chuck PARRISH (USA), in Classic Vintage class; American Eagle in Classic Traditional; Freedom, owned by Ernest JACQUET (USA), in Modern; and USA, owned by Ralph ISHAM (USA), in Grand Prix.

Barby MACGOWAN (As Amended by ISAF). Image, Classic Traditional winner Weatherly:© Onne VAN DER WAL
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