Reborn Flyer returns to Volvo Ocean Race
VOLLENHOVE ~ Almost 40 years after winning the 1977-78 Whitbread Round the World, (right) the precursor of the Volvo Ocean Race, the most memorable Dutch racing yacht is back at sea. Flyer, an aluminum, Sparkman & Stephens-designed ketch, has emerged from a major refit at Royal Huisman. She will flaunt her looks and history at the start of the VOR in Alicante, Spain, in early October. Sadly absent will be Cornelius (‘Connie’) van Rietschoten who raced Flyer to victory in the 1977-78 Whitbread and won the next one, 4 years later, in Flyer II. Van Rietschoten passed away last December.
Flyer was brought home in 2013 from Long Beach, California, where it served for many years as a college training vessel known as Alaska Eagle. The repatriation was the work of a foundation, led by Gerard Schootstra who is keen to secure some Dutch maritime heritage. He found the original drawings at the Royal Huisman yard and consulted the yacht’s designer Gerard Dijkstra. Schootstra, “We used the 10m rule, i.e. from a distance of 10m the yacht had to look original. That is no small order. Ventilation holes used to be made of teak. Now they make them in aluminum. To what extent do you back in time? And at what price?”
Johan Mast of Mast Jachtschilders recreated the boat’s original dark blue color. The yacht’s bottom was treated with International Paint’s Trilux 33 antifouling. Its deck was given a 2-component Awlgrip coat with antiskid finish. The name Flyer was restored and the yacht became a ketch again. “The mizzen mast was constructed differently. The original ran through the deck. It is now deck-stepped There is also a new, profiled mast and rod-rigging from Blue-Wave replacing the original compacted 1/19 steel wiring and a new North Sails wardrobe. Rod rigging weighs less and shows minimal stretch. The old sloop rig weighed 1,950 kilo; the new ketch rig is about 1300 kilos. By today’s yachtbuilding norms, Flyer looks dated, but what a sight!