Huisfit has announce that Flyer, the 65ft ketch designed by Sparkman & Stephens that won the 1977-78 Whitbread Round the World Race (the precursor of today’s Volvo Race) has returned for refitting to the Royal Huisman yard in Vollenhove where she was launched in 1976.
The iconic aluminium yacht, built for the late Conny van Rietschoten who raced her to victory and sadly passed away at the end of last year aged 87, arrived in Vollenhove on Monday, March 24th. Having been turned into a sloop, she will be given back her ketch rig by re-stepping the mizzen mast, while the aluminium work of her hull will be overhauled and repainted the original dark blue — a special heritage project for Huisfit that is the source of much pride for its staff.
“We are thrilled and honoured to be able to welcome Flyer back home,” announced Alice Huisman. “She is a part of our maritime heritage and a winning example of our ability to build high-performance, aluminium yachts before the yard was awarded Royal status.”
Flyer returned to the Netherlands earlier this year after being acquired by the ‘Revival of Flyer’ foundation and having sailed more than 300,000 nautical miles as the Alaska Eagle. Flyer was a star attraction during the Amsterdam Boat Show earlier this month, when an estimated 5,000 sailing enthusiasts went aboard the famous yacht.
The foundation ‘Revival of Flyer’ was initiated by Dutch sailor and entrepreneur Diederik Nolten, Els Vroegindewey and skipper Gerard Schootstra, with the aim of returning the yacht to the country where she was built as a maritime monument under her original name.
Gerry Dykstra, another well-known Dutch yachtsman and the founder of Dykstra Naval Architects, was navigator and watch leader aboard Flyer during the 1977-78 Whitbread Race. Van Rietschoten went on to win the event for a second time in 1981-82 with the 76ft maxi sloop Flyer II, after taking line honours in every single leg of the race – the first yacht to win both line and handicap honours in the history of the race.
These astonishing achievements not only ensured fame and admiration for Van Rietschoten, they also brought international recognition to the Royal Huisman shipyard that had built both winning yachts.
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