Nacra17 — Weetamoe

The Nacra17 will be making its debut at the 2016 Olympics in Rio!

The Nacra17 continues the trend in sailing towards fast-paced, action packed racing. This one-design, high-performance catamaran features a twin trap system, a light carbon mast and curved daggerboards which provide vertical lift. It is 5.25m long, with a sail area of 20.10m2, and weighs ~142kg; such a configuration makes it a light and agile boat, ideal for the Olympics. It will inevitably provide breathtaking racing as sailors push the boat toward the edge of control in the pursuit of a first place finish.

This class will be unique because it features a mixed crew of one male and one female athlete; every other sailing class is gender-specific. At the outset, Olympic sailing was a gender-independent sport; unfortunately, this oftentimes resulted in ‘men’s only’ events. 1988 was the first Olympics to feature a female specific event, the 470 female. It will be awesome to see male and female sailors competing against each other in the Olympics once more!

The mixed gender aspect played a role in deciding on the Nacra17 for the Olympic multihull class. After the International Olympic Committee voted to reinstate the multihull class, the Evaluation Panel set out a strict criteria the next catamaran would have to adhere to. Among other specifications, the boat would have to accommodate a wide range of crew weight.  Following trials of many different catamarans, in May 2012 the International Sailing Federation, along with sailors, unanimously chose the Nacra17.

The name Weetamoe originated from a conversation between Louisa and her father, Governor Lincoln Chafee, over what to call Team RI’s new boat. Both she and Jeremy wanted a name that spoke to Rhode Island’s history and spirit, so Louisa’s father suggested the Narragansett Indian Queen, Weetamoe.

A member of the Wampanoag Confederacy, Weetamoe was also a leader – squaw - of the Pocasset tribe, which occupied what is now Tiverton, RI. When the First Indian War (aka Metacom’s War, King Philip’s War) broke out Weetamoe joined King Philip in his fight against the colonists; she personally commanded 300 warriors and supplied provisions to help the Wampanoag struggle. She enjoyed initial success, however treachery within the Indian cause led to its downfall. Weetamoe perished while trying to cross Fall River, in Massachusetts.

Jeremy and Louisa believe that Weetamoe’s life story and characteristics are an inspiration for the campaign. Weetamoe was a strong leader who fought for her people and her land, defending a cause she believed in. Jeremy and Louisa hope that some of her indomitable spirit will help bring them to a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.