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  • Writer's picturerobshepherd66

'Sparrowhawk' flies for DutchSail

I’ve been back to the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam!

The first ever talk I did after publishing the book in November 2017 was at the annual dinner of the ‘Compagnie Fonds’ (see Archive dated 13 November 2017).

Although this latest talk wasn’t in front of 200 plus guests and including a dinner, it was nevertheless just as exciting. Not only because of the most fantastic setting (the view through the window was of an exact replica of the VOC ship ‘Amsterdam’) or the guests present, but also (mostly) because of the main talk that came after me. I provided an historical context to a very current America’s Cup campaign - the Dutch challenge for the Cup in 2021.

The desire in 1851 to build the fastest sailing yacht included then a search for a boat builder, designer, skipper and crew. Oh, and for some money.

Nothing has changed 167 years down the line. Especially not the people; they are as adventurous, passionate and determined now as they were then - and who better than to explain about all of that than Simeon Tienpont, the skipper of DutchSail. He gave an overview of the Dutch plan, the challenges ahead and the determination and desire to get it all done and appear at the starting line.

For those interested in historical research, I spent a whole day in the archives of the ‘Koninklijke Nederlandsche Yachtclub’ (the KNYC) in Rotterdam, looking for evidence of why the Dutch hadn’t participated in the race which started the America's Cup

I did not find an invitation from the Royal Yacht Squadron to their annual regatta of August 1851, although neighbouring Royal Victoria Yacht club in Ryde did invite the KNYC to their regatta in the same month. The Dutch seemed to have been too busy, though, with their own sailing and rowing competitions and opening of their new club house.

Nevertheless, I was pleased to find out that the silver Cup which ended up as the America’s Cup was donated by an honorary member of the KNYC...admittingly, he was British, and a member of the RYS (called the Marquess of Anglesey), but still, some sort of a Dutch link.

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