'The wild card'


Replica of original Rainbow, designed by Starling Burgess in 1931 and hastily revisited for the 1934 America’s Cup Defence. Rainbow beat Endeavour, although she was acknowledged to be slower. Redesigned by Dykstra & Partners

Built: Holland Jachtbouw, launched 2012.

Identifying features: Black hull, gold cove, red bottom and anodised grey winches and deck fittings.

Rockstar rating: Owner/driver, but with experienced team plus Volvo and Olympic pros.

Odds: Promises much, but lacks on-water time.

“Rainbow is the one I’m most worried about,” admitted Endeavour’s skipper Simon Lacey before the J Class regatta in Falmouth in 2012. “We know our speed against the others – they’re the ones to watch.”

The wildcard. The newbie. The Dutch destroyer. Fresh out of the starting blocks at Holland Jachtbouw, with flush decks and mahogany doghouse, jet black aluminium hull with gold leaf cove, she looked the business, complete with Southern Spars high modulus rig and dressed in a spanking new suit of North 3Di and 3DL sails.

Rainbow is a hybrid superyacht. This is not easy when you consider her skinny beam and the fact that the original plans allowed no room for an engine. So WhisperPower were commissioned to devise a hybrid propulsion system so she can operate for silent periods on her lithium batteries alone.

Designer Jeroen de Vos is particularly happy with the efficient deckplan: “Setting sails fast and easily is key, picked up through evolution and experience – the hydraulic package has been very well thought through.” When we went aboard in 2012, she looked highly specced, with those hydraulic powered winches capable of pulling lines at 200m per minute!

While the experience of her skipper Nick Haley, who previously ran Windrose of Amsterdam and Athos, both also from the HJB yard, certainly counts, only launching a couple of months before the 2012 Falmouth regatta was Rainbow’s handicap.

The Americans were originally slow out of the starting blocks with Rainbow after three quiet seasons following the Wall Street crash. Starling Burgess already had the hull design after Sir Lipton had mooted a Challenge in 1931, which was dug out and Rainbow was built at Herreshoff’s yard in a record-breaking 100 days.

Long on the waterline (82ft) for the time, she was a fair competitor to Endeavour, with a similar shape, but Endeavour’s drawn-out counter got the beauty nod. Scrapped in 1940, the original Rainbow was probably a slower boat than Endeavour, but she was better sailed. Will history repeat itself this summer?


Essential figures:

Specs: LOA 39.96 m

Beam:  6.37m

Built in aluminium

Draught: 4.8m

Manufacturer: Holland Jachtbouw