Affectionately known as ‘Big Red’, Steinlager II is a yacht that fired the imagination of all New Zealanders as Peter Blake won the Fastnet race in 1989 and set off to race in the 1989 Round the World Whitbread. Winning every leg over the line and on handicap, her record was unprecedented – and still stands. She was voted “Yacht of the Year” in 1990 by Yachting Magazine and went on to claim numerous wins in races around the globe. Having then experienced life as a private charter until 2012, she returned to home shores when a group of determined New Zealanders saw a huge new potential for her.
Steinlager II joined the equally well respected Lion New Zealand within the New Zealand Sailing Trust (NZST). Big Red was starting a new career using her abilities to deliver youth development programmes to younger generations with highly valuable life skills.
Established in 2008 the mission of the NZST is to provide a new set of learning opportunities to the communities and schools throughout New Zealand. At the core of the Trust is a passion extending back to the campaigns of Sir Peter Blake. The Trust works in partnership with communities and schools offering programmes onboard these iconic yachts with a focus on life-changing journeys. The residential week long trips leave the student with a new sense of leadership, the value of teamwork, and an inner strength in confidence – valuable skills to last a life time.
The student’s journey on board Steinlager II or Lion NZ parallels Sir Peter Blake’s own story – full of adventure, courage and innovation. There is no doubt that a week with the NZST is incredibly impactful and is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It inspires the next generation to become passionate about the maritime industry, ecology or environmental issues. It keeps the fire that Sir Peter Blake felt alive for generations to come.
The legacy is precious and so it is imperative that Steinlager II maintains her original iconic ‘looks’. Although small necessary changes have been made, her identity is iconic. When the time came to replace her sails, after eight years of hard graft, they too had to be recreated with the original integrity.
The Trust came to Doyle Sails as a returning customer. Andre Strez, head skipper of the NZST said “we had faith that Doyle’s would acknowledge the importance of the iconic imagery of the original sails but balance that with the practicality of a cost effective solution, knowing that as a charity, every cent counts”.
The template of the sails was taken from the sails used on the actual 1989-1990 Whitbread. “Each leg of the Whitbread had new sails” said Andre “and they all had taken a battering – we looked through all of them and decided to work with those from the last leg as they were the ones in the better condition”. The new sails are made of Doyle Sails Stratis Carbon Technora – the Carbon and Technora fibres are used along with specific resins chosen for their long term durability and resistance to high humidity and wet conditions. Using this specific fibre combination will make sure the sails last. They are also custom-designed to create a much lighter sail than the original. It was important to make the handling of the sails easier for the students on board.
To keep the original look, instead of painting on the sails, they were printed using Doyle’s innovative sail art. The colour was printed onto the surface of the sails to recreate their original character. The process began with a 3D model of the Steinlager II sails with the colour overlaid onto the sail surface. The printed surfaces of the sails are done prior to the fibre being laid, which ensures that the print is accurate to the final product. In this case – that is an old school sail look with new technology design and build.
In addition, there were other small changes made to make the experience more enjoyable on board, such as removing vertical battens in the jib and having a furling headsail. With a short-handed crew and inexperienced kids on board, things need to be as easy and as manageable as possible.
Doyle Sails handled the challenge with great professionalism and created a great product that can be used on Steinlager II for years. The experience that time on Steinlager II offers New Zealand youths is life-changing and Doyle’s has helped make an impact on these children’s lives.
ABOUT THE NEW ZEALAND SAILING TRUST // The NZ Sailing Trust was inspired by the adventures of Sir Peter Blake and his racing teams. We exist to ensure that key yachts from that history are preserved and sailing adventures are run on board to help inspire the next generation. Preserving the past, in order to help shape the future. Find out more here.
ABOUT DOYLE SAILS // Around the world, Doyle Sails has over 500 sailmakers in 46 different locations, all equally passionate about sailing – living and breathing our ethos’ Global Leaders and Local Experts.’
As sailors, our obsession with sailing connects us to the water. The water is our playground, a sanctuary where we seek enjoyment, a competitive playing field where we race as competitors; it’s sometimes our home and always a place that unlocks our sense of adventure wherever that adventure might take us. Behind every adventure is a Doyle sailor who shares this same obsession as you. We put your journey at the very heart of what we do to deliver the ultimate enjoyment and performance, powering our constant need to push the boundaries in sail design and innovation, to reimagine sailing.
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