As of the end of December a record total of 60 boats were signed
up for this year’s Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race (MHOR) which is co-sponsored
by the Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.
“We still have more than six months to go before the start of the race” said BYC Vice
Commodore and MHOR co-chair Scott Sarazen, “so it is really gratifying to see the
volume of interest there is already in this year’s race both from participating sailors
and sponsors.In addition to the sixty boats registered, returning sponsors include the title sponsor
Steele Auto Group of Canada and Gill Marine USA, the exclusive clothing sponsor.
All registered sailors are able to get a discount on Gill merchandise, which is a good
prompt for participants to complete and personalize their crew gear”, Sarazen said.
One of the newcomers to this year’s race is also the oldest boat signed up so far, the
1936 Rhodes designed cutter Kirawan which is now owned by Dan Levangie of
Boston. Kirawan was designed for and indeed won the 1936 Newport to Bermuda
race for her then owner Robert Baruch. Her amateur crew of nine included designer
Phil Rhodes and builder Irving Jacobson.
In 2017 Dan Levangie, who owned and sailed the 60-footTed Hood designed sloop
Windwalker, had been looking for a classic boat to restore for three or four years
when he came across a listing for Kirawan.
The Phil Rhodes designed boat was
sitting in a boatshed in Wickford, Rhode Island, where she had been for the last 16
years after her then owner had filed for bankruptcy.
Well aware of the work of Joe Loughborough and having seen the launch of Santana,
Dan was determined to do the same for Kirawan. “We bought the boat and took her
up to Loughborough Marine in Portsmouth for extensive restoration” he said. “A
good partner of mine told me that projects like this take twice as long and cost twice
as much as you expect, and he was right”
They were all prepared to participate in the 2020 Newport to Bermuda race but
then everything came to a halt because of the pandemic and instead Kirwan’s first
major race outing was the 2022 Newport to Bermuda.
“We were really thrilled by the way she handled”, Dan said. “Especially in the really heavy weather on the
Sunday when there were big seas and winds gusting to 35 knots, you just knew you
were in a classic ocean racing boat”.
The slight downside of a classic ocean racer, Dan admitted is the lack of space below
and the fact that the galley is forward and not where you want to be in heavy seas,
so a good supply of protein bars and other convenience food is essential.
Interestingly Dan recently received an email from a guy in Texas who had been the
navigator on Kirawan when she participated in the 1964 Los Angeles to Tahiti race,
a 3,200 mile odyssey which took them 20 days to complete.
Kirwan’s full time captain is Craig Bliss, who will serve as navigator in the MHOR
and there will be six other crew members. “We will have two watches, four on and
four off, that’s just about all we can fit”. Dan said.
First started in 1905, the MHOR is one of the world’s oldest ocean races. The 39 th
biennial race returns after a four-year Covid hiatus and will leave Marblehead
Harbor on July 9, 2023.
Further information about the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race can be found on
the website: https://www.marbleheadtohalifax.com/