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Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Windrose was built by Robert E. Derecktor shipyard of Mamaroneck, New York. She is heavily constructed of white oak for framing and backbone, and double planked topsides (1.5" total thickness) with a single planked (1.25") bottom. Her deck is teak over plywood. She was designed and built for Jakob Isbrandtsen, a successful shipping magnate and sailor. She was launched in 1959.
The following is paraphrased from a history we received from her owner:
She began her racing career in 1959, flying under the flag of the New York Yacht Club. She raced in several local races, seasoning her crew and shaking down equipment, including the New York Yacht Club Cruise and Astor cup, finishing 3rd in her division.
In June 1960 she was entered for the first time in the Newport to Bermuda race. The early stages of the race had light reaching and running conditions, but a storm lurked beyond the Gulf Stream. The leading boats, where Windrose was positioned, suffered knockdowns, were hove to in Force 8 to 9 conditions, or were running under bare poles. Windrose kept sailing but near the finish, as told by Rod Stephens, “When she was in a fine position to be the winner, the [experimental] swedge fitting on the upper end [of the head stay] broke off from fatigue” and she dropped back out of the leader position (but miraculously didn't lose her mast).
In July of 1960 Windrose took on her first Atlantic challenge, racing in the King of Sweden Cup, a grueling 3,000-mile race from Bermuda to Skagen, Sweden. She raced hard and finished less than 3 minutes behind Figaro to finish second against many larger boats.
In 1961 Windrose was chosen as one of 3 boats to represent the USA in the Admiral’s Cup. The competition was impressive with new rules and new boats on the line. The US team consisted of Windrose, Figaro & Cyane. These three piled up the points in the Channel Race in a most commanding way. Windrose won the race outright while Figaro and Cyane were fourth and fifth of the Admiral's Cuppers. With Windrose’s imposing lead there was a 30-point gap between Britain and the USA. Windrose again led the US in the Britannia Cup, but had to retire from the NY Yacht Club Cup, so that going into the Fastnet the United States' lead had been reduced from 30 to 13. It all hung on the Fastnet - a decider of many Admirals’ Cups to come. Windrose led the US team all through the race but ran out of wind from the Bishop to the Lizard and the big Dutch sloop Zwerver claimed first place. Windrose finished at a very close 3rd, well ahead of her team mates, racking up enough points to keep the USA in first place and the Cup left British home shores for the first time in history.
1962 brought a year of light winds as Windrose participated in numerous races including the Newport-Bermuda race, the Block Island Race, the Astor Cup & the New York Yacht Club Regatta among others. Although light winds prevented her from taking home first place trophies in most races, she campaigned successfully gaining class honors and honing her crew.
The Transatlantic race of 1963 was a real bruiser. The first eight days were sailed in thick fog and after it lifted the weather went from bad to worse. Light winds gave way to erratic variables from every direction, which finally formed into a fierce Atlantic gale lasting a full six days. Sails were blown out, rigging failed, and spinnaker poles were broken on most of the yachts in the race, the big class A boat, Dyna even had her rudder carried away in the worst of the gale. Windrose was damaged in the storm but continued sailing and racing and on July 24, 1963 the headlines of the New York Times read “Windrose, Cyane 47 seconds apart”. After a battering from the Atlantic gales, Windrose came in a heartbreaking 47 seconds behind her old rival in the 3,000 mile race. She was one of the first 5 boats to cross the line overall, ahead of Cyane but on corrected time she finished second, 47 seconds behind Cyane.
Windrose reigned supreme in the selection trials and was again chosen to represent the USA in the Admiral’s Cup of 1963. This was sure to be a hotly contested series, the first defeat at the hands of the United States in 1961 rankled British sailors who were determined to return the cup “home”. All three of the British boats were newly built with the Cup in mind. This was the beginning of the new trend in racing yacht design that would sacrifice comfort for efficiency. The three boats in the US team, Windrose, Figaro and Dyna were old hands with lots of experience and miles under their keels. Windrose again led her team mates in the Britannia, Channel and NY Yacht Club Cups, racking up 57 points to their 27 points each, but it wasn’t quite enough to best the British who headed into the Fastnet 130-129 against the USA. Again it was all to hang on the Fastnet. After light winds in the earlier races, the conditions turned nasty, and the race was run in what has proved to be the worst weather in Fastnet history (even worse than the 1979 storm). Figaro’s mainsail split early on slowing her down and then Windrose suffered damage to her rig which dropped her back from her leading position to 13th place and put paid to the US’s chances at the Cup. The Cup returned to British soil, but Windrose’s earlier wins were enough to place the USA in second place overall.
Windrose participated successfully in several racing series in 1964 including the Block Island series and the Bermuda Race-Onion Patch series and was then again chosen to represent the USA in her third Admiral’s Cup series. Again, most boats in the series were custom built with the Cup in mind. The new idea was to keep the boats as light as possible. Rod rigging was used for the first time and new sails and bendy booms were remarkable innovations of the day. These were out-and-out racing boats of the offshore breed of the time; there was no consideration given to cruising, perhaps for the first time in any off shore racing designs. Windrose placed 1st in the Channel Cup among her US team boats, Caper and Figaro, chalking up considerable points against the newer yacht designs, but her luck ran out in the Britannia cup when she (along with two other boats) was disqualified for misreading the sailing instructions and passed the finish line incorrectly. In a reverse of the weather patterns of the 1963 Admiral’s Cup, the wind began to slacken and calm conditions caused several of the boats to withdraw from the New York Yacht Club Cup, including Windrose. The sturdy build and comfort of Windrose which served her so well in the harsh conditions of the North Atlantic gales, now served to undermine her chances of a win in the Fastnet. 1965 turned out to be one of the lightest wind conditions in Fastnet history. The newer, lighter British boats took the day and retained the Cup for Great Britain.
Windrose is now based in Phuket, Thailand. She is currently for sale. Click here to see the listing and many more images.
Here are the plans. Her clipper bow is quite unusual for Sparkman & Stephens designs.