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Heritage – US 23
Newest in the 12 Meter fleet – 1970 America’s Cup contender and ocean racing champion!
In 1970 the colorful Charley Morgan took on a monumental task. He singlehandedly designed, financed, built, made the sails, and skippered his own America’s Cup campaign in Heritage (12 Meter US-23). An “outsider from the south” he even sailed the boat on its own bottom from St. Petersburg, Florida to Newport, Rhode Island to compete in the 1970 America’s Cup trials. There were four 12 Meters competing for the America’s Cup defense in 1970: Weatherly (12 Meter US-17), Intrepid (12 Meter US-22), Heritage (12 Meter US-23), and Valiant (12 Meter US-24). Heritage started the trials off well with a win over Weatherly but was later knocked out of the trials by Intrepid, beginning a fierce rivalry between Heritage and Intrepid.
1970 would be Heritage‘s only America’s Cup race. However, this was not the end of her racing career. After her America’s Cup campaign Heritage was sold and converted into and ocean racer. Metal bunks, a head (nautical toilet), galley, and engine were installed and a new racing era for Heritage began.
Heritage campaigned in races throughout the East Coast and in the Great Lakes. During the 1980’s Heritage met up again with her old rival, Intrepid, on the Great Lakes and avenged her previous America’s Cup defeat. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s Heritage dominated “big boat” racing winning many of the prestigious races in the northeast including consecutive wins of the Chicago to Mackinac race in 1983 and 1984.
In the late 1980’s Heritage left the Great Lakes and sailed south. On the way she stopped in Antigua and won Antigua Race Week for the second time. Next, Heritage sailed to Venezuela, then through the Panama Canal, and up to California.
Columbia – US 16
First 12 Meter America’s Cup Winner! In 1958 a new class of sailboats, the 12 Meter class, was introduced as the racing class of the America’s Cup. Off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island sleek and fast, Columbia (12 Meter US-16) stunned its competition with a sweeping win of the first 12 Meter America’s Cup, proving that 12 Meters were justifiable competitors in the coveted America’s Cup!
Commodore Henry Sears and Briggs Cunningham, along with other financial investors, formed one of the New York Yacht Club’s syndicates for the 1958 America’s Cup and commissioned Columbia to be their racer. They hired Olin Stephens of Sparkman & Stephens to design Columbia and she was to be built at the well known Nevins Boatyard in New York. Her design was based on the successful, pre-war 12 Meter, Vim (12 Meter US 15). Although 19 years old at the time, Harold Vanderbilt’s Vim was, up until then, the fastest 12 Meter sailing, and provided the foundation for Sparkman and Stephen’s winning design for Columbia.
Columbia began her path to America’s Cup victory with hard fought preliminary races off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. The America’s Cup defense trials during 1958 were probably the most exciting ever held. Columbia was one of four American boats competing to defend the America’s Cup. The others, Weatherly (12 Meter US-17), Easterner (12 Meter US-18) and Vim (12 Meter US-15), like Columbia, were also very fast boats and had excellent crew. Columbia was skippered by Briggs Cunningham and had a crew that included the finest sailors in the United States including Olin and Rod Stephens, Harry Sears, Colin Ratsey, Wallace Tobin, and Halsey Herreshoff.
The preliminary America’s Cup defense trial series started on July 12, 1958 of the coast of Newport, RI. Easterner and Weatherly were the first to be eliminated in the America’s Cup trials which left the two Sparkman and Stephens designed boats, Vim and Columbia. In the end 19 year old Vim was unable to defeat the newer and faster Columbia who won the series by only twelve seconds in the final race.
The challenger for the 1958 America’s Cup finals was the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Sceptre (12 Meter K-17). Sceptre, the first of two twelve meters designed by David Boyd, had trained extensively on The Solent and won the America’s Cup trials to be the first 12 Meter challenger of the America’s Cup. Sceptre was shipped to the United States and began racing in Newport, RI on September 20, 1958.
In Newport, RI’s 1958 America’s Cup finals it was immediately obvious that Sceptre was no match for Columbia. Columbia, prepared by her hard fought trials victory, never once trailed Sceptre and won four straight races by margins ranging from 7 to 12 minutes sweeping the first 12 Meter America’s Cup and making her the first 12 Meter to win the America’s Cup.