With combined ages totaling 775 years, Thea (D-1) at 103 years-young will be the Grand Dame amid a fleet of relative “youngsters” ranging in age from just 82-88 years-old at the 2021 Evli 12mR World Championship.
Designed by prolific naval architect Johan Anker, Santa (N-4) as she was first named, was built according to a proposed S-Class formula in 1918. When the Second International Rule was adopted in 1919, her design was modified to conform. For the first half of her life, she sailed under the flag of Norway with an impressive sister-fleet of 12mRs also designed by Anker including Vema III (N-11).
For more than a century, Thea (D-1) has had the great luck to be impeccably maintained by each of only four owners—Jacob Stolt Nielsen, Leif Høegh, Ebbe Wedell-Wedellsborg and Hans Michael Jebsen. Owing to their diligence and care, Thea has never required a complete restoration, something very few other vintage yachts of any design can boast. Now owned by father, Hans Michael Jebsen and son, Immanuel Jebsen, Thea (ex-Santa and ex-Nina) has been actively racing on the classic circuit and as a part of the 12mR fleet far longer than most of her competitors.
Purchased by Hans Michael Jebsen and ITMA Vice President, Patrick Howaldt in 1998, Thea (D-1) was the centerpiece around which the now-successful Baltic 12mR fleet was built. In 2001, she was one of three Nordic twelves that sailed in the historic 36-yacht 12mR fleet at the America’s Cup Jubilee held at Cowes (UK). Thea’s crew (and others) saw the potential for a large Vintage 12mR fleet racing at spectacular events throughout Northern Europe. With this vision in mind, Howaldt went on a 12mR shopping spree, co-purchasing Vanity V (K-5), Vim (US-15) and Wings (K-15) with groups of friends thereby sparking a catalyst for the rapid expansion of the 12mR fleet in Northern waters.
Hans Michael Jebsen says that he is looking forward to a great event in Helsinki. “The clubs in Helsinki have a fantastic tradition of organizing Metre regattas and we are happy that the 12mR fleet will meet at NJK. We hope that the event will further propel the development of the 12mR Class in the Baltics. For us as an early Second Rule boat, it will be challenging to keep up with the “youngsters” — but we look forward to fun and competition and will try to beat them all on the handicap!” The Jebsens and crew have good reason to be hopeful about Thea’s results, she has consistently won regattas based on the Baltic Handicap system including the Risør Træbåds Festival for three years running– 2016, 2017 and 2018. Her 12mR World Championship record includes a 13th place finish in the Classic division at Cowes (2001) and a 6th place finish in the Vintage division at Flensburg (2016).
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