As noted here and in the April edition of Latitude 38, the famous S&S 65 Alaska Eagle left the West Coast recently after a 30-year stint as the flagship training vessel for the Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship. Her new Dutch owner shipped her back to her original home, The Netherlands. She was built there at the Royal Huissman Shipyard for Conny van Rietschoten to compete in the second Whitbread Round the World Race (1977-78). And she won, then named Flyer.
Although that was a long time ago, it is abundantly clear that the Dutch public has not forgotten this thoroughbred racer, as some 5,000 people came to see her at the recent HISWA-Amsterdam International Boat and Water Sports Show.
Gerard Schootstra, one of the boat’s new caretakers, writes: "We are overwhelmed by all the enthusiastic reactions we have received by the public, as well by the coverage throughout the media. …There were guests in front of the boat all the time."
That said, getting the aluminum 65-footer to the RAI Convention Center was no easy feat: "We took the mast down, then put her onto a pontoon and sailed her through the canals of Amsterdam, which was an awesome experience. Then we loaded her onto a trailer and maneuvered her in the middle of the night through the small streets of Amsterdam to finish in the exhibition centre."
If you’ve visited that centuries-old city, you can appreciate just how difficult that must have been. Getting her back into deep water proved even more challenging, as a bridge repair hampered the delivery crew’s progress in getting the boat and its pontoon through the city’s maze-like canal system.
By now, though, we assume that Flyer — yes, she been rechristened with her original name — is at the Huisman yard for a thorough refit. If you are one of Flyer‘s many fans, be sure to check for updates on her new website. We’re told she’ll soon be actively sailing in European waters, possibly alongside another Whitbread thoroughbred, King’s Legend.