Dan Levangie is set to participate in the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race this July in a particularly unique ship.
Kirawan is a 53-foot sloop built in 1936 by Jacobson and Stevens in New York City. It was designed by Philip Rhodes, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate and chief of design at NYC naval architecture firm Cox and Stevens. The boat competed in a race in 1936 from Newport to Bermuda, where it braved hurricane winds to finish third overall and first in corrected time.
Levangie, who has been sailing for 25 years, has always wanted to own a classic wooden yacht. While he was sailing his previous vessel, Windwalker, he came across Kirawan in Rhode Island.
“It had been on the west coast for many years and had been owned by a number of individuals in California,’ said Levangie. “It had done two Tranpsac races — L.A. to Honolulu — in the 1950s. The most recent owner before myself trucked it across the country to do the 2000 Newport to Bermuda race.”
This race is where Kirawan encountered trouble when some of the planking on the port side separated from the ship.
“I’m not sure how they got it back to Newport, but they got it back, and it ended up in a shed in Wickford, Rhode Island,” said Levangie. “The owner hired a shipwright to do repairs on the hull, and in the course of that happening he filed for bankruptcy, and he sort of walked away from it and left that boat in the shed in Wickford for 15 or 16 years.”
Levangie found Kirawan and bought it by paying the outstanding liens filed against the previous owner. He then had the boat painstakingly restored at Loughborough Marine in Portsmouth, Rhode Island to turn it into the striking ship that it is today. One of the unique aspects of the ship is that she has a hard dodger, allowing those on deck to be protected from the elements.
This dodger, according to Levangie, may come in handy for his upcoming participation in the Marblehead, Massachusetts to Halifax, Nova Scotia race on July 9, 2023.
“It can be really bad weather. The last time I did this race, it rained two out of the three days, so it can be a wet race.”
The Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race saw its start in the trade between the Northeast States and Nova Scotia in the 18th and 19th centuries and follows the same basic trade route people have been utilizing for over 300 years.
In 1905, after successful races at a shorter distance, yachtsmen at the Eastern Yacht Club organized the first Marblehead to Halifax race. The race ran sporadically until 1939 when organizers started hosting the race on a biennial basis, with a short hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Levangie and his crew are all amateur sailors, and fully expect to be in the middle of the pack, of which there will be around 80 competitors. For him and his crew, the opportunity to participate in the Marblehead to Halifax is reward enough.
“We have an all-amateur crew. There’s no professional on board,” said Levangie. “We’ll be competitive. We’ll finish in the middle of the pack of our class. This would be my expectation.”
As of the end of December, a record total of 60 boats were signed up for this year’s Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race (MHOR) which is co-sponsored by the Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.