Bay Area resident and sailor Dick Enersen, who grew up sailing from age 8 in Tiburon, is back at it. Enersen has countless miles of racing under his belt, including crewing in the America’s Cup aboard Constellation in 1964. He’s also produced several action-packed sailing films, and now spends much of his time cruising aboard his Cal 46 Brass Ring in the Pacific Northwest. When the opportunity arose to join the 2019 12M Worlds in Newport, Rhode Island, Enersen grabbed the torch, assembled the crew, and headed back to his old stomping grounds. Twenty-one 12 Meters in six classes are assembled to bring back the glory days of these legendary classics.
Enersen and crew are aboard Defender, which raced in the 1983 America’s Cup trials with Tom Blackaller as skipper and Paul Cayard on the crew. In the Worlds, Defender is in the eight-boat Modern Division — the largest and star-studded fleet with people like legendary tactician and broadcaster Gary Jobson, sailing aboard his 1977 America’s Cup winning Courageous (on which he called tactics for Ted Turner). The event is the biggest collection of 12 Meters racing together since the America’s Cup Jubilee in Cowes in 2001.
Despite the America’s Cup moving on to more modern boats, many 12 Meter devotees are keeping the class active and the boats looking beautiful. While many are sailed in other parts of the world, their long history with the America’s Cup has kept Newport as the central hub.
Racing started on Tuesday and will end after nine races, weather permitting, on Saturday. The two races held on Thursday were in classic Narragansett Bay conditions of 12-15 knots in the upper Bay north of the Pell Bridge. After six races. the Enersen crew has shown consistency with five seventh-place finishes and a sixth in the last race.
Enersen wrote in saying, “We were last to join the event, but we’re having a great time. The competition in the Modern Class is formidable, but we are not last and we’re getting faster every day. Above all, we have a great crew, and there are many old friends in and around the event.” With three races remaining, the top slots are settling in, but to be aboard any boat for this event is, without a doubt, a lifetime treat. Winning aboard Constellation in 1964 was a pretty big deal, but sailing Defender in the 12 Meter Words is hard to beat.
You can follow the 12 Meter action here.