Spirit of Sydney
Spirit of Sydney is a 9-berth 60ft aluminium hulled yacht that was built for the 1986 BOC Challenge Race. She has been used for Antarctic sailing for every southern summer since 1994 and is skippered by Darrel Day.
Spirit of Sydney was designed by Ben Lexcen and launched by the then Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke in the euphoric era following Australia’s history breaking win of the America’s Cup with the Ben Lexcen designed Australia 2 and its famous winged keel. Ian Kiernan sailed Spirit solo around the world in the 1986 BOC Challenge and to his credit achieved 4th place against much lighter high tech yachts, probably aided by the fact that his “landrover of the sea” suffered no structural failures and is a well balanced ‘sweet’ yacht that handles well under auto pilot.
Spirit was designed and built in an era when good racing performance was tempered by respect for the power of the mighty southern ocean. Consequently she is a strong and powerful yacht with excellent all round sailing ability and her tough aluminium construction and watertight bulkheads have given her a useful second life as an Antarctic Expedition yacht. She is an ocean greyhound with long clean lines and flared bow sections for surfing the big rollers of the southern ocean, offering an exhilarating experience for guests and crew alike.
Primary safety is paramount and exemplified in excellent sailing ability, like the capacity to sail off a lee shore in a gale, or surf under control when the waves build. Primary safety is also covered by an over-built southern ocean sailing rig, powerful 130 hp turbo diesel engine and large feathering prop, 6 watertight compartments and redundancy in most systems and equipment. Spirit of Sydney offers a reasonable level of comfort with heated insulated interior, antarctic specified water maker and hot fresh water showers, however the emphasis is on safety, adventure and hands on experience.
The pleasant raised saloon with windows at eye level has a diesel drip heater in-set in the saloon table and offers a cosy social environment, while the aluminium and plexiglass ‘ bomber style’ dodger over the cockpit keeps the crew relatively warm and dry whilst on watch. The large sugar scoop or stern platform is an ideal platform for kayaking, diving or just boarding the zodiac.
Spirit has been meticulously maintained and refitted, so that she has evolved on a yearly basis.
The ever on-going maintenance schedule covers many items from new sails, forestays and headsail furlers to zodiacs imported from France. In 2004 2007 2009 2011and 2014 Spirit spent 6 months on the hard at Buenos Aires being meticulously checked over by a naval architect and having structural items such as chainplates and keel floors checked, rebuilt or upgraded plus removing striping down and rebuilding the mast .
Since 1994 Spirit has sailed in the southern ocean every year visiting Antarctica under the guise of various expeditions. In the summer of 1994/95 Don and Margie McIntyre sailed her to Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica , with all the supplies and materials to install “Gadget Hut” where they wintered over for a year. Since then she has made 50 Antarctic voyages and 7 Sub-Antarctic voyages. Past expeditions with her present owners have included the Steve Irwin film crew for Animal Planet, Oregon State University for Humpback whale tagging, Andrew Mc Cauley’s epic kayak expedition from the tip of the peninsula to the Antarctic circle, Globetrekker’s film crew for Pilot Guides, HBO Vice HBO Munchies Geelong Grammar School Antarctic expedition, The British Alpine Club, and numerous other expeditions with many wonderfully adventurous people of all ilks.
Spirit of Sydney is based in South America (Ushuaia – Argentina). As well as excellent service in support of expeditions, Spirit offers sailors an exciting opportunity to cruise in one of the most beautiful (and fast!) yachts in the spectacular regions around the southern tip of South America, the Antarctic Peninsula and the sub Antarctic islands including South Georgia.