America's Cup: A true Kiwi Spirit

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Qualifiers has attracted some unexpected guests.

kiwi spirit
Stanely Paris and his new round-the-world ride Kiwi Spirit II are in Bermuda for America's Cup action and preparations for upcoming adventures.Mark Pillsbury

In Bermuda this morning, the docks were abuzz with talk about the first battle of the afternoon, a race that many are calling the first match up of the real America’s Cup show: Oracle Team USA vs. Emirates Team New Zealand.

On Friday night, at the Lido bar at Elbow Beach, as pitchers of Dark ‘n Stormies flowed, armchair skippers made bold predictions of the next Cup in Auckland, or of Oracle entering the main event a point — and leg — up on the competition. Time will tell.

I began my Saturday onboard PainKiller, a Moorings 4800 charter catamaran, docked at Caroline Marina, in Morgan Bay. Over coffee in the cockpit, I glanced down the dock and spotted a lovely looking boat with a familiar battle flag announcing the presence of Kiwi Spirit, or in this case Kiwi Spirit II. And right beside the blue and white hull was owner Stanley Paris, who on the original Kiwi Spirit, tried twice to sail round the world, starting from Bermuda, only to be turned back both times by boat woes off Cape Town.

Now, with his new 53-foot, Finot Conq- designed boat, built by at the Knierim Yachtbau in Kiel, Germany, Stanley is gearing up for another go-round, and this time feels more confident about handling a boat that’s considerably lighter and 10 feet shorter than his previous ride. He’s quick to credit his project manager, round-the-world singlehanded racer Steve Pettengill, for arriving at a more manageable design and layout.

“I feel more secure on this boat, said Paris, as he washed flags that had somehow been doused in leaking diesel on his shakedown transatlantic sail. “I feel confident I can singlehand it.”

Stanley, soon to be 80, took delivery of the boat in Germany, and with a crew of four, including Pettengill, sailed to Horta. In the Azores, half the crew departed, and Stanley and another mate made the crossing to Bermuda, though the intent had been to make a landfall in Newport, R.I. to participate in the Bermuda 1-2. Delivery delays, along with weather along the northern route across the Atlantic made the start of the singlehanded portion of the contest impractical, though he still plans to make the return to Newport — the double-handed portion of the race — with his son.

This summer, he plans to enter the Marblehead-Halifax race with two sons and a grandson, and then will get the boat ready for his next attempt to circle the world, starting on Nov. 4 from his current hometown of St. Augustine, Florida. If all goes well, he’ll set a waypoint that passes just to the south of Bermuda; from there, his route will take him around the great capes, back to Bermuda and on to St. Augustine. His goal: to be back in time to pay his 2018 income taxes.

Kiwi Spirit II is a sweet looking boat. The hull, rig and custom hard dodger are carbon-fiber. Below, the teak bulkheads and furniture are foam cored to save weight. A large saloon table to port, island counter on the center line and nav station to starboard are designed to provide lots of handholds and places to brace oneself at sea. Aft to starboard is a guest cabin with twin bunks, to port is a full-on workshop. Forward of the mast, the boat is for the most part bare, with just a double berth to port with stout-looking lee cloths. In the bow, there's space for sails for now, but it will eventually be finished as a head an shower.

From stem to stern, Kiwi Spirit II looks set to sail, and Stanley says he's ready to go. It's time, he said, to get the job done.