by Dennis Gunderson
Recently under new ownership, Enterprise US-27 begins a new phase of her life. The new team is very excited about the boat and the upcoming years of competitive racing in the 12mR modern fleet! What a terrific opportunity to bring back such a purebred as Enterprise into racing shape to compete for the 2019 World Championship!
Enterprise was built in 1977 as a continuation of the Courageous model. Designed by Olin Stephens at S&S, she was initially skippered by Lowell North of North Sails. She was beaten by Courageous in the ’77 trials, but then continued on in 1980 and 1983 to serve as a competitive trial horse for the Freedom and Azzura campaigns. Enterprise has long been an admired design, and has served her crews well throughout many years of competition.
The new team consists of some great friends and partners from the Newport area who are very excited to see Enterprise being taken seriously as a contender for the 2019 12mR World Championships. The new owner is an experienced and passionate yachtsman who has put together an equally passionate and dedicated group of sailors, designers, and engineers each sharing a long history in the 12mR community. The afterguard of the team consists of three individuals who shared in the early campaigns with Enterprise in 1977 and 1980. Steve Casella of NEB in Portsmouth, was an original builder of the yacht in 1977 at Minneford Yacht Yard. Tom Rich, also of NEB, was an original crew member when the boat was campaigned in 1977 by Lowell North, and Mike Toppa of North Sails who sailed on-board in 1979-1980 when she was a trial horse for Dennis Connor’s Freedom campaign. Paul Buttrose, former President of the ITMA, has thrown his hat in the ring as Program Consultant, and David Pedrick of Pedrick Yacht Design has agreed to bring his valuable insight from years of 12mR experience into the fold for Enterprise. This tight nucleus of 12mR knowledge and experience are being joined by the current S&S design team based here in Newport and led by chief designer Brendan Abbott.
The team is thoroughly enjoying the experience as we bring together the same design and construction offices that helped to create Enterprise in the first place. Just like the S&S team had done in ’77, Brendan Abbott and his team of designers are working hard to optimize her hull characteristics and ensure that she is as fast as she can be. Utilizing her original plans from the S&S archives, we are able to look at each and every design change made to Enterprise from her beginning in 1977; as all major design changes have been documented by S&S. A 3-D hull scan was created and has been analyzed alongside the originals to see where changes were made and what might need to happen to bring her, in some cases, back to a previous shape. No rock will be left un-turned, and we are all very excited to bring Enterprise back from a modified racer-cruiser to a proper 12mR racing yacht.
While we are working alongside Enterprise’s original design office, we are also excited about working closely with her original sail designers at North Sails. Lowell North had originally meant for Enterprise to be at the forefront of sail and rig design in 1977. He tested many different designs and concepts on board Enterprise throughout the ’77 Defender Trials. Mike Toppa was a part of the boat’s history throughout those early campaigns, and he is again helping to ensure that Enterprise is well canvased. The team intends to utilize the North 3Di technology for its new suit of sails in 2018.
The team at New England Boatworks will be helping the new team to transform Enterprise back into fighting shape from years as a racer-cruiser platform. In 2000 Enterprise emerged from refit in Europe as a compromise 12mR, complete with a removable cruising interior and an engine. To accommodate this, her original cockpit was removed and replaced with a smaller cockpit and larger deck. These additions to the yacht have since been stripped away, and plans are being made to re-install a functional 12mR racing cockpit and fore-deck. The engine has been removed along with associated hardware. Any and all creature comforts have been stripped away and set aside. In addition to a proper racing cockpit, we can expect to see Enterprise sporting a new mast designed by Jim Gretzky. Many other elements of her sailing hardware will need to be replaced or refitted once the cruising outfit has been thoroughly executed.
The Enterprise team is most excited about such a tremendous surge of enthusiasm for 12mR racing in Newport! This community has had such an illustrious past as a formula-design fleet, and to be an active part of that history is an exciting prospect. The team hopes to not only participate in the coming years of heightened competition, but to do so at a level commensurate with the care and quality that these fine yachts deserve!–DG.