updated 27.12.07

The History of the 12mR Yacht


In 1937 there was something approaching 12m fever in Germany. Walter Rau, owner of a whaling fleet and his friend John T Essberger, owner of a shipping company each ordered a 12m yacht from the famous shipyard of Abeking and Rasmussen in Lemwerder near Bremen. These yachts were to be named Anita and Inga. At the same time Henry Burmester was building another 12m, Ashanti, for himself in his own yard. In the early summer of 1938 both Abeking and Rasmussen yachts were launched just in time to compete in the Kieler Woche. Anita (yard no.3241) received sail no 12G2 and Inga (no.3242) her identical sister, the sail no 12G1. In addition to the two sisterships a 3.6m motorboat tender was delivered. As was usual in those early years neither yacht was fitted with an engine. Construction was tabasco Mahogany on forged steel frames. Decks were laid Oregon Pine. The masts were built of Spuce.

As Henry Rasmussen reported at the time: "Anita was launched shortly before the Kieler Woche, where she sailed against Inga and the English 12m Blue Marlin. The English boat went round the buoys like a dinghy but the two German 12s’ with their inexperienced crews were left at the buoys with their sails flapping" At the Kieler Woche in 1939 things were very different. The Sphinx, another12m built by the A&R yard for Norddeutscher Regatta Verein ranked constantly first. Anita, Inga and Ashanti took turns at 2nd, 3rd and 4th. During the summer of 1939 the German 12s’ sailed a race series near Copenhagen. The coming of WWII stopped all sailing activities. Anita was laid up at A&R and had to wait for better times.

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After the war Inga and Sphinx were renamed Westwind and Ostwind and sail under the flag of the German Navy. 2006 they were sold to private owners. Ashanti burned up in a big fire in the Burmester shipyard. Anita was sailed only once in Kiel. By 1951 she had been re-rigged as a yawl and the interior modified for cruising, but still in the following years she was used on only very few journeys.

In 1962 life began again for Anita. Three friends, Jello Rassau (today Honorary Commodore) Alois Kranz and August Schulte discovered Anita in her "beauty sleep" and bought her at once. Once some modifications had been done and after she survived the flooding of the yard during the hurricane of spring ’62 and after that a fire, she was finally launched and the new owners could take her over. In May’62 she was sailed round Skagen to Kiel. Until 1965 she was used mainly for family journeys, but still, in the first three to four years she covered 14,000 nm.

 In 1965 a new chapter opened. The Segelkameradschaft Ostsee (founded 1962) which until then had chartered Anita, managed, thanks to some generous donations from friends, to buy her. The annual number of journeys and sailing miles now grew rapidly. In 1967 Anita sailed for the first time under a lady skipper, Margret Schollmeyer. 1970 saw her sail from Travemünde under skipper Peter Eider round Iceland and for the first time cross the Arctic Circle and back to Travemünde. Such journeys, in those days considered exceptional, are soon regarded as a matter of routine. The destinations became more and more distant, around Britain, to the North Cape, to North Africa, to Madeira and the Azores, later to Spitzbergen, Jan Mayen and Bear Island. To match the legal problems of such journeys, on April 24th ’72 Anita is entered into the Shipping Register of Lübeck and receives the international call sign DJWB

With due regard to the ambitious program for the coming year some modifications had to be made. During the winter of 1991/92 the old canvas canopy over the cockpit, which had given us such good protection throughout the years was replaced by a wooden doghouse. This was made necessary by the need to install additional nav equipment in the cockpit. Radar, radios, Navigator and weather fax, etc.

During 1992 Anita sailed across "the pond" for the first time and took part in the "500 Years America" in the waters off New York. This, the greatest feat so far in the history of Anita was organized by 7 SKO Skippers. The journey started in Travemünde and went via the Kiel Canal, the North Sea and English Channel to the Azores, Bermuda and eventually to New York.

After the celebrations in New York the return trip went up to Canada, Newfoundland, visited Greenland and the Foroyars. Shortly after leaving Aberdeen the mainmast came down and the great American adventure was at an end. By next spring a new mast was stepped and the Old lady was at sea again.

Come 1996 and after nearly 250.000 miles at sea some major repairs became necessary. All 6000 bolts, which fasten the planks to the frames had to be dug out and replaced. She received a new deck and all the technical equipment, electrics, navigation, pumps etc were renewed. A new rudder was built and installed.

During the autumn of ’97 a hurricane in the North Sea generated such monster waves that Anita was knocked down and partly capsized. Major damage was sustained. The doghouse was smashed, the mizzenmast broken and lots of deck equipment washed away. Some of the crew also suffered severe injuries but under the watchful eye of the German Lifeboat service Anita made it back to Helgoland in relatively one piece.

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In August 2001 Anita took part at an historical event. 40 old and modern 12 metres together with a huge fleet of  oldtimers met in the Solent and at Cowes I.o.W. to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Americas Cup. For everybody who was there, these had been unforgettable days.

 In the 45 years in which Anita was owned or chartered by Segelkameradschaft Ostsee she has sailed

320.032 nautical miles (this is more than 14 times the circumference of the globe)

and skippers and crews have collected more than

one hundred and thirty prizes.