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The city of Newport, Rhode Island, has long been synonymous with 12 Metre boats, given how many of them competed there for the America’s Cup between 1958 and 1983. Quite a few of the boats still spend a great deal of their time in Newport, but there’s also a strong global fleet whose most recent World Championship was held in Helsinki, Finland, in 2021.
This summer, that racing is coming back to Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, with on-water action scheduled to take place from July 31 through August 5. Many of the yachts expected to race have ties to the America’s Cup competitions, setting the stage for some of the highest-caliber racing that can be seen anywhere in the world.
“It’s very special that this event is returning to Newport, especially because of the rich history this city shares with the America’s Cup,” said Peggy Hersam, executive director of the 12 Metre Yacht Club Newport Station, which is organizing the World Championship event in partnership with the Ida Lewis Yacht Club. “A large concentration of 12 Metres, many of which have ties to the Cup, make their home in Newport; however, the fleet is worldwide and going strong. It will be amazing for visitors and locals alike to encounter these iconic boats tuning up for and competing in this most important event.”
Some of the yachts expected to compete include Columbia, Challenge XII, American Eagle, Courageous, Defender, Enterprise, Freedom, Gleam, Intrepid, Nefertiti, Onawa and Weatherly. Each of these boats has amazing stories of their own: Columbia, for instance, never once trailed her challenger in the 1958 America’s Cup and is still out on the water winning races today.
Base camp for the World Championship will be established at the International Yacht Restoration School, with class-sanctioned regattas planned in June and early July, leading up to the main event. And some of the boats, including Columbia, are available for charter, giving racing enthusiasts a chance to sail aboard the historic vessels.