Scuttlebutt Europe leads with Guest Editorial penned by “dean of the yachting journalists,” Bob Fisher

Last night’s Guest Editorial on Scuttlebutt Europe by Bob Fisher…

I stand in awe at the achievement of Tom Ehman and his close supporters with the Super 12.

For some years the world of yacht racing has been denied the majestic sights that the Twelves provided during the America’s Cup when there was any breeze. Those of us who were fortunate enough to have attended the long summer of 1986/7 in Fremantle (generally reckoned to have been the best America’s Cup summer of all time) will remember the sight of the over-pressed 12-Metres approaching a leeward mark in Gage Roads – Indeed I see that Tom uses a photograph of the 12-Metre World Championship fleet with some of the spectators waiting expectantly, in his promotional material.

They were days when the crews did readily comprehensible tasks, most of which could be seen to change the performance of the boat – and thus enhance the position of the spectator. He understood, to a large extent, what was going on. How does he react to the incomprehensible tweaking of hydraulic valves that alter the angles of incidence of the foils on today’s AC boats? He cannot.

What the Super 12 class promises is a return to the grandeur of yesteryear with boats that have been designed specifically for their task with the benefit of hindsight and the accumulated knowledge of those who were the leaders in the design of similar boats back in the Eighties. The wealth of knowledge has received the additional boost of the return from retirement of Bruce Farr whose “Plastic Fantastics” are the cutting edge of 12-Metre technology. With his inherent knowledge and the backing of the team that has taken over his design office, this is a project that is guaranteed not to fail.

The use of Westerly as constructors of the boats has been carefully considered and it is a firm that captures the trust of its clients, and there are three already committed – a number that will doubtless grow rapidly as confidence is boosted by definite movement in the boatyard. More orders will be need to produce the sought-after fleet for the initial regatta in San Franciscan July 2017 (right after the date when the 35th America’s Cup should have been held there) but there are healthy awakenings, as I understand.

July 2017 is a firm date in the diary for me – I suggest that you make it one in yours.


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