Stanley Paris is 76, a physical therapist by trade but racing yachtsman at heart, and he has all intentions of beating the single-handed circumnavigation record set in 1986 by Dodge Morgan.
Those are big boots to fill, but Paris has innovative design and technology on his side. His 63-foot yacht, Kiwi Spirit, was set effortlessly into the St. George River at Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding Company in Thomaston Nov. 1, following a christening that bathed the afternoon with champagne. The hull proudly took the bottle smashing by Heidi Lyman, as a crowd that lined the docks broke out in loud applause.
Paris is from New Zealand, evidenced by a his lyrical kiwi accent, but he now lives in St. Augustine, Florida. He is no stranger to cruising, and has circumnavigated the globe before. Since 1983, he said he has logged 60,000 ocean miles, crossing the North Atlantic three times, and making two Alaska to New Zealand passages as owner and captain of a Nauticat 44, Nauticat 52 and Farr 60. He has precise expectations from a vessel, and says that all cruise boats should be capable of being sailed single-handed.
"Even if there are three on board, and often it's just a couple, one is asleep while the other is on watch and so it's down to solo," he said, in a note that accompanies the designs of the Kiwi Spirit.
And being a physical therapist, he is interested in ergonomics. His new boat is designed for comfort, safety and ease of handling.
"After all, being in my 70s is not like being in my 20s," he said. "Now I like to enjoy a cocktail and relax watching the boat go fast and easy."
He said that he will honor Morgan's memory by setting out to sail around the world nonstop. At age 55, Morgan did it in 150 days, taking the record down from 256 days. He was also the first American to sail around the world alone with no stops.
"Dodge Morgan, whose record I am challenging, did this as a Corinthian effort," Paris wrote, in his blog. "He accepted no outside funding, no sponsors which typifies most sporting events today. He was as amateur as he could be and I shall repeat that experience."
Paris will leave in November 2013 from St. Augustine, Fla., which will be celebrating next year its 450th anniversary as a city, the country's oldest city. His goals also include becoming the oldest person to sail around the world under sail, nonstop; to fastest to do so in a monohull cruising boat; and to first to ever circumnavigate nonstop with a "green" vessel.
The Kiwi Spirit, designed by Farr Yacht Designs, is fitted with solar panels, and has two wind generators and four water generators with energy stored in lithium ion phosphate batteries.
Richard Konkolski, himself a circumnavigator, maintains a history of circumnavigations. Some involve sailing around Cape Horn, others via Panama Canal. Dodge Morgan distinguished himself by making the fastest nonstop antipodal solo circumnavigation in 150 days, and being the first American to sail nonstop. His course included sailing around Cape Horn.
"The simplest way to prove that one followed the great circle is to put the plane through any point of one’s sailing, preferably through the start point, and through the center of the globe, and then to find the opposite point on that plane – the point called antipode," wrote Konkolski. "Simply put, if somebody’s journey crosses pair of antipodes, he sailed a great circle (most probably even more due to passing around the continents), and he can claim true circumnavigation. If a trip did not cross a pair of antipodes, the sailing did not follow the great circle. It does not matter how much shorter voyage was, even if the passage was longer that the one done just around the pole, the claim for record has no merit and is doubtful."
Paris said his success and speed is to be attributed to Farr Yacht Design, of Annapolis, Md. The Kiwi Spirit includes a number of specific design features, such as:
The boat took 44,000 man hours to build, according to Lyman-Morse, and its interior will change between this year and next November, when the race around the world begins.
"It's been a good project, beginning in May 2011, " said Lyman-Morse designer Jason Ellis.
Paris has scheduled a year for himself to get prepared for circumnavigation, a year that includes regattas and distance racing, including the Marion Bermuda Race, the 2012 ARC Rally from the Canaries to St. Lucia and the RORC sponsored Caribbean 600. For that, Kiwi Spiritwill be finished with a cruising interior with the understanding that certain components will be removed for solo circumnavigation.
Phase I accommodations include three cabins with owner’s stateroom aft, two guest cabins (one equipped with bunks and the other with a double berth) and three full heads with separate showers. A large galley amidships is outfitted with 2 top loading refrigerator/freezers, two deep and wide sinks, and gimbaled electric stove. Both salt and fresh water is plumbed to the galley via foot pumps. During circumnavigation, the interior will be stripped, although the salon, navigation station, galley and one head are to remain unchanged. Heavy equipment such as air conditioning units and generators will be removed. Forward berths, head and aft stateroom will be removed. The salon settees are designed to function as sea berths.
“I have not tried to design this boat but merely indicate my preferences and questions and wishing to share ideas from my reading and to know enough to ask questions,” said Paris. “I was drawn to Lyman-Morse because I knew Cabot has completed close to two circumnavigation and is still out there cruising in far away destinations. And because LM team is staffed with serious bluewater and America’s Cup sailors, I knew they would not only be game but are also on their game when it comes to my mission.”
And when he returns from circumnavigating the globe, the Kiwi Spirit will undergo another transformation, this time to "a family-style cruising yacht for Paris’ more leisurely cruising aspirations," said Lyman-Morse.
And why is he doing this?
Paris says in his blog: "This is the toughest question to answer and there is no one answer. I have three answers: First, I have always sought out and lived adventurously. Life is not without risk, be it in business or pleasure. I do what I can to live a full life and to minimize the risks.Kiwi Spirit has a number of life saving ideas and technology aboard and I will share these with you. Second, my life has been in the “footsteps of heroes” and I honor them by following them, and where possible exceeding what they achieved – as they would wish. Third, because I love the sea - I enjoy gales and even storms for the challenges and the exhilaration they provide - and for the fine weather that follows."