|King’s Legend brings its rich tradition to Southeast Asia|
King’s Legend is packed to the gunwales with vivid stories of nautical adventures, derring-do and historic round-the-world racing experiences. The beautiful part of this story is that you too can become part of it. How? Read on!
King’s Legend is a Swan 65, considered by experts to be in the haut de gamme category of sailing yachts – the nautical equivalent of a high-end Mercedes or a Rolls Royce. The yacht was designed by Sparkman and Stephens and built by Royal Huisman. With a length of 19.8m and a beam of 5m along with a draught of almost 3m this makes for a highly maneuverable yet stable yacht in all weather conditions – as proven by King’s Legend’s performance and safety record throughout her many worldwide journeys and sojourns.
Built in 1975, King’s Legend’s design differs from the two-mast model, standard at the time. A single, somewhat taller mast was used instead, in order to be better equipped for racing. Upon completion after approximately 18 months of construction, she was considered to be one of the fastest sailing yachts in the world.
In 1977 she was put to the test and challenged to justify this claim: King’s Legend took part in the second Whitbread Round the World Race, the most gruelling as well as most prestigious of offshore races – 27,000 tough and tricky miles with stops only in Cape Horn, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro.
King’s Legend’s crew prepared for the Whitbread Race in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Their training sessions went well, with the exception of a broken mast due to the forestay not being thick enough. The multinational crew included Skipper Nick Ratcliff and Skip Novak, contesting his first round-the-world race. A well-known sailor, Novak later competed four times in the Volvo Ocean Race, the successor of the Whitbread Race. According to Novak, he was “in the right place at the right time” to join King’s Legend’s crew as its navigator, owing the position to meeting Ratcliff by chance at the bar of the Fountain Hotel in Cowes and “a handshake over a pint of ale.”
In those days, navigation was done by sextant and radio direction finder and taking great risks was the order of the day. For example, passing Antarctica as closely as possible was risky but considered worth it for the time shorn off the voyage.
Most of the Whitbread was dominated by a head to head race between King’s Legend and Flyer, navigated by wealthy Dutchman Conny van Rietschoten. Other competitorswere left far behind. During the first stage, a thousand nautical miles before Cape Town, both ships were still within visual range of each other, but in the end Flyer managed to win the first stage by 2 hours and 4 minutes. During the second stage, from Cape Horn to New Zealand, King’s Legend managed to get ahead of the Flyer by 360nm, until a leak was discovered atthe rudderpost. It took two days to get it under control and cost King’s Legend the lead. Novak described the event as “a stark reminder that these are desolate oceans populated only by albatross, whales and ice, with no shipping within thousands of miles.”
During the third stage, between New Zealand and Brazil, the crew lost their SSB Radio, completely cutting the ship off from the outside world. Without access to weather reports, King’s Legend ended up lagging behind the competition.
King’s Legend was plagued by financial trouble. Reportedly, van Rietschoten, Ratcliff’s primary opponent, gave the crew financial support in order to keep the ship in the race. He allegedly paid an outstanding hotel bill in South Africa, and donated roughly $30,000 to King’s Legend further on in the race. Initially Ratcliff was said to have refused to finish in England due to a consumption tax debt he still owed the British tax administration. Lowered morale among the crew eventually had Ratcliff back down. King’s Legend finished in Portsmouth with a travel time of 121 days and 11 hours, earning a hard-fought second place behind Flyer and thus became a legend in her own right.
Nick Ratcliff’s financial trouble forced him to sell the ship. The buyer, a diamond trader from New York owned the ship for a brief time and mainly used her for celebrations on the Hudson. In the first twenty years after the Whitbread Race, the ship changed ownership various times. King’s Legend has been in Lebanese, Belgian and Norwegian hands, and has sailed all over the world, from Australia to South Africa and the Caribbean.
The legend continues
In 1999 she was bought by present owner, Dutchman Gijs van Liebergen, looking for a yacht to sail around the world: “I had just turned 40 and was thinking it was time to change my life.” Van Liebergen’s passion steered King’s Legend onto a new course. She underwent a much needed, extensive refit in Holland, retaining her original signature slender lines and her warm teak wood interior. She was fitted with state-of-the-art conveniences and over the years successfully competed in the Antigua Sailing Week, Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta, Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Swan Cups, Fastnet race, Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Daimler Chrysler North Atlantic Challenge and various other races. Van Liebergen: “Sailing is truly my passion and racing brings a whole new, brainy side to the picture. I can’t get enough of it.” Furthermore, the make-over was so aesthetically successful and van Liebergen’s care of King’s Legend soimmaculate that at the 2013 Sparkman & Stephens Swan Rendezvous in Elba King’s Legend won the Zeppelin Prize for the Concourse d’Elegance.
More recently, in 2015, after wintering in the Caribbean, King’s Legend crossed the Atlantic and sailed into the Pacific, taking in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Whitsundays along the way before fetching up in Sydney. There she joined the 2015 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, Australia’s most famous ocean race, which ranks in world status with the Rolex Fastnet Race in England and the Newport to Bermuda Race in the USA. This thoroughbred racing yacht has participated in more races than most other yachts.
Now, the beautiful part of this story: You too can become part of it!
From November 2016 onwards, King’s Legend will be based in Phuket and Langkawi available for cruising, chartering, racing, corporate sailing events or whatever takes your fancy in the clear waters off Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Andaman Islands.
There are at least 10 international yachting events on the Asian yachting calendar to choose from. Skipper Gijs van Liebergen’s specialty is to train non-experienced individuals into becoming the strongest possible racing team working together in perfect nautical unison. A company team or a team of friends can include up to 12 members; the whole team will actively sail and work together for the best results in these challenging events.
King’s Legend, now a whisper-grey hue, offers three private cabins – two with twin bunk beds and one main cabin with a double bed -and can accommodate six charter guests. One extra berth in the main cabin can be used if necessary during racing, long distance cruising and chartering. A fourth forward-placed cabin is for use by the crew members while there are two shared heads on board, both featuring a shower and a toilet.
For more information on chartering this strong, sturdy, beautiful and competitive yacht contact