Whitbread Race winning maxi ketch Steinlager 2 is going home to New Zealand

This weekend saw the start of the 25th ARC and it was a good opportunity to reflect on all the changes since the first supposedly one-off event in 1986. Apologies for not blogging last week, especially as there was a lot of interesting stuff, but with various copy deadlines, interviews, parties to go to and all…you know how it is.

Here’s one of the bigger boats. You may remember her. It’s Steinlager 2, Peter Blake’s Whitbread Race winner from 1990. Big Red, as she was and still is nicknamed, is a 84ft Farr-designed maxi ketch that decimated the opposition to win all six legs.

Today she belongs to Swiss owner Stefan Detjen and is on her way back to New Zealand for the next chapter of her career as part of the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum’s collection of famous boats.

Nothing tells you more about how galactically race yacht design has come on that having a look aboard this boat. By today’s standards she’s almost a cruiser. The aluminium spars and rod rigging are all original, as is most of the deck gear.

It’s weird to think that this boat probably couldn’t break the ARC record of 11 days even if she were to pick up Trades from the very start. The crew says she needs a good 20 knots of breeze to get up to full speed, and even in those conditions with every stitch up – mizzen, mizzen gennaker, mainsail, spinnaker and staysail – she’d probably be slower than a Volvo 60, let alone the latest generation of ultra-lean greyhounds.

Down below is fascinating – oh the luxury compared to today’s bare carbon-hole racers. There’s a proper flushing loo, as there always was, pipe cots for everyone (with the pipes in metal holders!) and a big galley with a very large stainless steel cooker that has cages for two full size Camping Gaz bottles.

 Steinlager interior

She still has her cosy nav station, more of a kiosk really, like an oversized photo booth. This is me sitting in Sir Peter Blake’s red leather Formula 1 car seat.

Steinlager nav station