The American 12 metre VIM (U.S.15) leads the British VANITY (K 1) at Harwich regatta, Saturday June 10th 1939; her first race against the British 12 metres during a season spent racing in the east and south coast regattas; the last of traditional yachting.
As in Britain, when big class yacht racing collapsed after 1937, American racing yacht owners increasingly focused on the 12 metre class and Harold Vanderbilt, who successfully defended the America's Cup with ENTERPRISE (1930), RAINBOW (1934) and RANGER (1937) ordered a new 12 metre, to be named VIM. She was designed by Sparkman and Stephens, was built by Henry B. Nevins at City Island, New York during the winter of 1938/39 and was shipped to England in the spring. Her design stemmed from evaluation of the ex-British 12 metre MOUETTE, designed and built by Camper and Nicholsons of Gosport in 1929, which was sold to America in 1934 when American yachtsmen started to take an interest in 'twelves', which were then considered secondary racing yachts.
The VIM was ably handled by helmsman Vanderbilt, a very smart professional crew of four, backed up by good amateurs. Her performance made her the most successful 12 metre ever built. British observer Heckstall Smith wrote "She had not cleared the starting line by more than a few cables and made a couple of tacks, before one could see she was a clipper, perfectly handled and that boat and crew were typical of the best that America could produce". He attributed her superiour speed to smart sail handling, particularly of the genoa; "a sail of relatively heavy cloth which was sheeted and standing 15 seconds more quickly than those of the British boats". This, and better steering, gained her just over one minute on each round of the 12 mile course; a tremendous lead in the close racing of those professionally manned yachts.
Unfortunately VIM was disqualified in this first race due to mistakenly passing a buoy on the wrong side. The imminence of war is emphasised by the barrage baloon beyond VIM's masthead.
She went to Australia to act as trials yacht for the GRETEL during the 1960s, when her speed still enabled the old yacht to be a formidable competitor. [JL]
Plate.35 in SWW.
Used in The Sailor's Coast, page 70.
Used in Yachts and Yachting page 1285 year not known.
Date: 10 June 1939