WEDNESDAY, MAY 30: One of the world’s most renowned racing yachts is returning home to take pride of place at a maritime museum.
Rainbow II has been in Bermuda for more than 40 years after she famously won the prized One Ton Cup in 1969.
The yacht, which was made out of Kauri pine in New Zealand in 1966 specifically for the One Ton Cup, also claimed the Sydney to Hobart title twice before taking part in successive Newport to Bermuda races.
Over the last four decades she has been owned by some of the island’s most well known sailors including Jimmie Amos, Charlie Berry and George Jones.
But she will leave the island next week aboard the Oleander and begin her final trip back to New Zealand where she will be put on display in the National Maritime Museum.
Mr Amos bought Rainbow II in 1975 from George Jones and owned her for five years.
He told the Bermuda Sun: “This is a wonderful conclusion for such a fantastic yacht.
“For years I thought that she should be taken back to New Zealand.
“The yacht is very much a part of the country’s history and her achievement in 1969 was huge for racing in New Zealand.
“It is great that this beautiful old yacht will be preserved in perpetuity for the people of New Zealand to see.
“It is hard not to overstate just what an achievement winning the Ton Cup was for Chris Bouzaid and the crew of Rainbow II.
“To have owned the yacht and sailed her around Bermuda was a great privilege.
“She was beautiful to sail up wind; perfectly balanced so she would almost sail herself.
“But down wind with the spinnaker up she was a handful.
“She was fast and exciting.”
In 2002 Jeremy Brasier bought Rainbow II and he has spent the last 10 years completing a major refurbishment on the yacht.
He said: “She is a beautiful boat and the history behind her is an incredible story.
“So when I bought her it was a challenge to get her back up to being seaworthy again.
“I had to take out the entire mast step and the keel supports were corroded away.
“It took me 10 years and she was damaged in Fabian when another boat crashed down on her, but she looks great now.
“Rainbow II is so important to New Zealand sailing it’s only right and fitting that she should go back to her home country.
“I am delighted she is going back there.
“It has been very much a labour of love and Mills Creek Marine has really helped the process.”
Rainbow II’s original captain, Chris Bouzaid, made contact with Mr Brasier just over a year ago to talk about buying the yacht off him and shipping her back to New Zealand.
The legendary Kiwi sailor also approached the National Maritime Museum in Auckland to outline his plans of donating the yacht as an exhibit.
She will go straight into the yard when she arrives in New Zealand for a complete restoration later this summer and should be on display in the museum at the beginning of next year.
Mr Bouzaid told the Sun: “It was always my hope to bring her back to New Zealand.
“It’s taken a while but I’m really happy we have got everything together. And it is a fitting end for her.
“She’s a pretty amazing little boat and for me she was the catapult in my life.
“We are hoping to take her out again on her 50th birthday with the original crew in New Zealand.”
Rainbow II will leave Bermuda for the last time on Monday morning aboard the Oleander bound for the US and then New Zealand.