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12 Metre Mania!

by Sharon Green April 15, 2022

And they’re off!

I’m not talking about just this robust herd of 12 Metres charging off the page of the 2022 Ultimate Sailing Calendar! Although the power and might of this commanding fleet is impressive.

I’m talking about me! The gates are open, yacht racing events are happening again around the globe, and I am off and running. So this month’s blog will be a little short but sweet: as I pack my gear bag for Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille and dive back into the work I love.

The 12 Metres, shown here, have a fascinating history. First designed and built in the early 1900s as an Olympic Class boat, they reigned in the 1908, 1912 and 1920 Games. Three decades later these classic beauties were re-introduced to breathe new life into the America’s Cup, as racing had stopped due to World War II.

But first: did you know the original Deed of Gift for the America’s Cup stipulated the challenger’s boat had to sail to the site of the regatta on her own bottom? Clearly that couldn’t happen with the current generation of foiling AC75s! Nor the 12 Metres, for that matter.

So in 1956 that clause was canceled to allow swifter, more lively yachts and open the doors to wider and more thrilling competition. Bring on the 12 Metres! These spectacular thoroughbreds dominated America’s Cup racing in 10 events between 1958 and 1987.

Even so, they were never really intended to sail in such frisky waters, as seen here on our April 2022 pages, during the 1986 World Championships in Fremantle. I was there with my Dad, Don Green, who was the head of the Canadian syndicate challenging for the 1987 America’s Cup. His 12 Metre True North was competing and I was the official campaign photographer! It was such an exciting time, for so many reasons.

The wind and sea conditions were rough on both the boats and the crews: they weren’t cut out for the Fremantle Doctor. Even the Washington Post reported, “Afternoon winds ranged up to 30 knots and seas were heavy and unpredictable.”

Plus this was my first trip to Australia. There was a huge international fleet with teams and press from all over the world, and I loved meeting all the other photographers and journalists. The entire event was world class: they even had a 12 Metre World Ball which Dad and I went to together. We were seated at the head table with celebrities like John Bertrand and Dennis Conner and it was just exhilarating. ‘Such a blast and such a treasured, unforgettable memory with my Father.

As always, sailing is not only about what happens on the water. It’s the people and places and experiences that truly make it such a unique and phenomenal sport.




Sharon Green
Sharon Green

Author




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