Brian D'Isernia and his wife
One of the hidden gems of the 2014 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is surely the 42m steel schooner Columbia, which emerged late this summer from her owner, Brian D'Isernia's commercial shipyard in Panama City, Florida.
The stunning replica of the Glouscester, Massachusets schooner of the same name was built to her original proportions and appearance, Lloyds classed and US flagged for private use.
"She was designed by William Starling Burgess and the original was built in 1923; we upgraded her to steel as we're steel boat builders," D'Isernia says as we tour the boat.
D'Isernia is a former swordfishing man – he actually built and ran the Andrea Gale, made famous in the film The Perfect Storm – whose company today comprises two commercial shipyards and employs 1800 people.
"This one is for me, and we've started the second one, with the same lines which we're here promoting for sale," D'Isernia says. "We're really here saying that we're capable of building this kind of quality classic sailing yacht here in the United States, and so far, we've had guys coming to take a look from the big Dutch naval architecture firms and they have said they are amazed at what we've done with this boat."
He explains that he's looking forward to getting her into the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and perhaps one day have the chance to take on Bluenose II, a replica of her original racing rival, Bluenose. Columbia famously had a near win against Bluenose, one of Canada’s most legendary sailing yachts, at the International Fisherman’s Cup Races in 1923. But her career tragically came to end in 1927 when she was hit by two gales off Sable Island, Nova Scotia, often called the Graveyard of the Atlantic, and sunk with all hands lost.