We received a hot tip yesterday that designer Bill Lee of Santa Cruz had sold his 1977 sled Merlin, and that the legendary yacht would be trucked to Florida. Brian Malone of St. Petersburg gave us the scoop: "The delivery/transfer of ownership took place at sea off Santa Cruz; the boat will be leaving California as soon as possible, and there are benefits to doing it this way."
"The actual buyer, and owner of Merlin Yacht Racing, is William F. ‘Chip’ Merlin of Tampa, FL," continues Malone. "Chip is the founder of Merlin Law Group and a lifelong sailor; he also owns a B-32 that we race locally."
Malone will be managing the Lee 68, as he does the B-32, and has arranged for Joule Yacht Transport to truck the sled to St. Petersburg in mid-December. "Bill’s guys in Santa Cruz, Ian Klitza and Homer Lighthall, are going to handle removing the keel and rig to get the boat ready for transport. I will head out at some point to oversee the loading," he said.
"We are working at getting the boat ready in time to participate in the St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s Race to Havana at the end of February. The long-term plan is the Regata del Sol al Sol, the Newport Bermuda Race, and then ultimately back to California for the 50th Transpac. Caribbean and Great Lakes events are in the mix as well at some point."
"Chip feels the boat is an icon and Bill is a legend. He really wants to preserve the legacy Bill created and carry forward the spirit in which it was created."