Past and present to meet in Great Sound

  • Photograph by Colin Thompson

Piece of history: Stapley aboard the replica of Rainbow 1934 America’s Cup defender

    Photograph by Colin Thompson Piece of history: Stapley aboard the replica of Rainbow 1934 America’s Cup defender


The past will catch up with the present when two America’s Cup defenders — both boasting cutting-edge technology for their era — grace the Great Sound today.

Taking centre stage at the venue for the 35th America’s Cup is a replica of the J Class yacht Rainbow and Oracle Team USA’s wing-sail foiling AC45S catamaran.

The original Rainbow defended the “Auld Mug” in 1934 while Oracle’s stunning defence in 2013 is regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

Incidentally, the original Rainbow was built in a New England shipyard owned by legendary yacht designer Nathaniel Herreshoff who designed the first racing catamaran in 1876, which was regarded as “the fastest yacht afloat”.

Rainbow is one of the yachts that will participate in the J Class Regatta to be held in Bermuda in June 2017 between the conclusion of the America’s Cup Challenger Play-offs and the America’s Cup Match.

The present J Class fleet comprises seven boats, including three original Js, two of which raced for the America’s Cup. The seven J Class boats sailing are: Endeavour, Hanuman, Lionheart, Ranger, Shamrock V, Velsheda and Rainbow. An eighth J Class yacht is expected to be launched in May 2015.

The majestic J Class yachts will be moored in the America’s Cup Village in Dockyard, providing as elegant a sight at rest as their beauty and power are impressive under sail.

Rainbow is en route from Antigua to her birthplace in Amsterdam, Holland and arrived in Bermuda on Tuesday with a crew of ten — seven of whom are full-time. Among the crew is Mark Stapley, the yacht’s captain, whose brother Derek coaches Robin Hood’s Corona League football team.

“My brother has been living here for thirty years, but family aside Bermuda is a great place to bring a yacht,” Stapley said.

In their heyday the J Class yachts embodied grace and power with cutting-edge design and were sailed in the America’s Cup between 1930 and 1937.

The original Rainbow was sold for scrap in 1940. But in 2007, Dykstra Naval Architects was commissioned to redesign Rainbow taking into account the original lines plans from William Starling Burgess.

The modern 131ft Rainbow, which has been put up for sale for $10.4 million, is built in aluminium with carbon spars and standing rigging powered by the latest 3Di sails in her inventory.

“She handles fantastic, she’s great!” Stapley added. “The boom is a bit of a handful offshore because these boats don’t have any vang. But other than the she is great.

“She’s balanced and with the real long keel and long boom she just rides over the long waves instead of just slamming.”

The purpose of Rainbow’s sail with Oracle in the Great Sound today is to raise awareness of Bermuda as a sailing destination and promote the 2017 J Class Regatta.

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Published May 8, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated May 8, 2015 at 12:03 am)

Past and present to meet in Great Sound

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