The replica of the famed 1934 America’s Cup winner Rainbow gently touched salt water for the first time last Friday, christened by the owner’s daughter.
Holland Jachtbouw has been building the 131-foot (40-meter) Rainbow for the past two years. It’s quite a difference compared to the 100-day build schedule for the original Rainbow, scrapped in 1940. Why such a variation in construction time? This Rainbow is quite a different competitor. Though she’s engineered and designed to the original William Starling Burgess specifications, Rainbow has a hybrid propulsion system and a superyacht-style interior. The yacht that inspired her was a pure racer, without an interior, an engine room, or the attendant equipment of modern comforts like air conditioning.
Rainbow’s hybrid propulsion and power system marks a first for all the Js on the water (she’s the seventh). Holland Jachtbouw proposed it due to the yacht’s space limitations and collaborated with WhisperPower to develop it. It’s comprised of Hy-Store lithium-ion batteries, one main engine, and a variable-speed electric motor serving as a genset. That genset can be used as an alternate engine when needed. Furthermore, the batteries can power everything aboard Rainbow whether sailing or at the dock, at the request of the owner, Chris Gongriep. Gongriep is an experienced sailing-yacht owner, having the renowned Windrose of Amsterdam, built by Holland Jachtbouw, conceived for and win races. He wanted Rainbow to be whisper-quiet in the overnight hours, so the batteries do the trick. They can then be charged while Rainbow is under sail, with reportedly just a 1.5-knot drop in speed.
Besides the space savings, the hybrid system allows a reported 30-percent reduction in fuel consumption due to air conditioning and other “hotel load” items. And, of course, that means lower maintenance costs and sound reduction.
As for Rainbow’s overall naval architecture and design, Gongriep tapped Dykstra & Partners. Besides having designed Windrose of Amsterdam for him, the firm oversaw the restoration of the Js Endeavour, Shamrock V, and Velsheda, the refit of the J Ranger, and the construction of the replica J Hanuman. Dykstra & Partners also had a hand in developing the J Class Association performance racing rules, to which Rainbow will adhere. A Southern Spars carbon fiber mast, boom, and spinnaker pole, plus North Sails racing sails and Lewmar hydraulic winches are among the gear the design team specified to meet those expectations.
During races, a crew of 25 to 28 people will handle Rainbow, including her huge, 10,226-square-foot (950-square-meter) spinnaker. When she’s entertaining Gongriep and guests, a crew of seven will take care of things. During those times, everyone will be treated to a mahogany-paneled interior with 1930s period flair, including Art Deco touches. The master suite is aft, and the two guest staterooms each have Pullmans.
Look for Rainbow to compete as JH2 in the upcoming J-Class regattas in England this summer. She’ll also make her boat-show debut at September’s Monaco Yacht Show.