Dutch sailing yacht builder Vitters has reached a pivotal moment in the extensive refit of the iconic J Class Ranger, a replica of the original project that successfully defended the 1937 America’s Cup by defeating the English challenger Endeavour II in Newport, Rhode Island. Having undergone a host of major refurbishments, the J5 has reportedly been returned to her “top class operational condition with an improved performance level”.
The official launch of the overhauled vessel will take place in Zaandam, where final sea trials on the North Sea will be conducted before the the yacht makes its way to the Caribbean for some race preparation. The first stop will then be St. Barths in Spring 2020, from where she will sail to New Zealand to participate in the J Class regattas taking place during the America’s Cup in 2021.
“Together with the Vitters team, we brought Ranger to the best shape ever to prepare her for the America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2021,” says owner’s representative Greg Sloat. “The Vitters team proved to be exceptionally flexible with many skilled and creative employees. I especially enjoyed the team work between the yard and the crew of the boat. Vitters offered us the possibility to work in the evenings and Saturdays and provided us with everything we needed to finish the job in time.”
Together with the Vitters team, we brought 'Ranger' to the best shape ever to prepare her for the America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2021."
- Greg Sloat, Owner’s Representative
The original Ranger vessel plays an important part in sailing history. Having been constructed at Bath Iron Works in 1937, the original brief was to create the maximum size yacht under the J Class Universal Rule. Ranger went on to win four races out of seven and also was the last J Class to sail in the America’s Cup in 1937.
The current replica of Ranger began at the Danish Yachts Shipyard in Skagen, Denmark in early 2002 and was completed in December 2003. While the yacht maintains much of the heritage from the original vessel, J Class yachts by today’s standards are very different beasts, hosting an array of modern marine technology.
Today, following on from Vitters’ extensive refit programme, Ranger has undergone a complete overhaul of her engine room, a new hydraulic system, complete exchange of all navigation and communication electronics, full service of rigging, a new teak deck, cockpit, helm station and also the repainting of her hull.
“Every day we feel honoured to be working on J Class Ranger,” says project manager Gerrit Jongman. “This yacht has such a long history and she truly is a piece of art. For people like us, with a passion for sailing, the J Class yachts will always be something special. With projects on this scale, it is hard to foresee all details from the start. Greg Sloat, Captain Ed Handasyde-Dick and the crew are great people to work with and we all look back on a very fruitful cooperation.”
"This yacht has such a long history and she truly is a piece of art. For people like us, with a passion for sailing, the J Class yachts will always be something special."
- Gerrit Jongman, Project Manager, Vitters
Undoubtedly, this is a fantastic project for Vitters to embark on as the shipyard continues to uphold its position as one of the core builders in today’s sailing yacht market. And, while Vitters has always done refits, it appears that this side of the business is one that is growing for the Dutch brand.
“We have always done refits, but a lot less than we do now,” explains Vitters CEO Louis Hamming in an exclusive interview. “There is more and more demand for refit and survey work, so that is why we do it – we want to be able to service the market.”
In the sailing yacht market, it is important to offer a relatively diverse set of services, and this is something that Vitters also focuses on. Having acquired Claasen shipyard in 2016, the size spectrum for the two shipyards is extensive, with Claasen focusing on smaller yachts and Vitters at the larger end. But now Vitters has also delivered a superyacht chase boat, which was launched in April.
Furthermore, Vitters announced this year that it now has an official presence in Palma, with the opening of its refit service proposition in STP. Vitters currently has a new 50m classic ketch under construction, which is due to be launched in January 2020, as well as a new 56m project commencing construction in March.
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