In 2024, the 12 Metre fleet are re-convening in Barcelona to take part in the ‘17th Regata Puig Vela Clàssica’ run by the Real Club Nàutic de Barcelona for ten days between the 1st-10th September 2024, during the America’s Cup Challenger Selection Series, and mooring at the RCNB’s marina in the heart of the America’s Cup Village.
There will be four days of racing between the 4th-7th September 2024 inclusive, and all divisions of 12 Metres are welcome with up to twenty-five yachts expected to be in Barcelona for this festival of sailing.
12 Metre class history
This class can trace its history back to the early 1900s when they were used in the 1908, 1912 and 1920 Olympic Games. The class was introduced to the America’s Cup in 1958 by the holders at the time, the New York Yacht Club, following the cessation of the competition during the period of the Second World War.
The ‘Golden Era’ of the J-Class yachts that had last competed for the Cup in 1937 with the ‘superboat’ Ranger defeating Sir TOM Sopwith’s Endeavour II was over, as harsh post-war economic times precluded the building and campaigning of these vessels.
The New York Yacht Club recognised the desire for a smaller and more cost-effective class to re-start the competition and the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes agreed, sending the David Boyd designed Sceptre to face the Olin Stephens designed Columbia in 1958.
The Americans successfully defended eight times in the Match against challengers from Britain and Australia through to 1983 when finally, the longest winning streak in sports history was ended by the radical winged-keel yacht Australia II helmed by John Bertrand and designed by Ben Lexcen.
The Cup was taken to Fremantle Western Australia for what would be the final time that 12 Metres competed for the trophy in a regatta in the big seas and winds of Gage Roads with the Australian Kookaburra III Task Force Syndicate losing to Dennis Conner’s Stars ‘n’ Stripes ‘87 after a thrilling series that catapulted the America’s Cup into the mainstream.
Then, the 12 Metre fleet was eventually replaced by the IACC class after the Deed of Gift Match in 1988 but they were anything but forgotten and fleets have sprung up most notably in North America and in both North and Southern Europe ever since, with owners restoring and updating these yachts with modern technology.
The race in Barcelona
For spectators, seeing these boats in the harbour and sailing out just beyond the America’s Cup course area off the Barceloneta beachfront will be a perfect juxtaposition between the historical and the new and provide a reference point for the America’s Cup event.
Participants in the regatta can gain points toward the Coupe de France series organised by the Yacht Club de France and entries are invited through the International Twelve Metre Association (ITMA) website which will be updated in due course: https://12mrclass.com/