Sinn Fein: From storm to start line

Published on March 17th, 2014

When Superstorm Sandy devastated the Raritan Yacht Club boat yard in Perth Amboy, NJ on October 29, 2012, one of the many casualties was the Cal 40 Sinn Fein, two-time Newport to Bermuda champion. Declared a total loss by the insurance company, Pete Rebovich decided to buy the boat back and try to repair it for the 2014 Bermuda Race.

Nearly 16,000 boats were built under the Cal brand name. There were many different models, but, without question, the most famous is the Cal 40. The forerunner of today’s ultra-light, production ocean racers, the Cal 40 was inspired by ocean racing legend, George Griffith, of the Los Angeles Yacht Club, and was purportedly first sketched by him in 1962 on the back of a cocktail napkin.

Pete Rebovich initially bought Sinn Fein in 1973, using it for local racing and cruising with his family. In the late 1970s, Pete got the offshore racing bug, competing in several Around Long Island races. He completed his first Marion to Bermuda Race in 1981. After winning the family trophy in that race in 1995, he moved from the cruising race to the Newport to Bermuda Race in 1997.

Overall, Sinn Fein has been to Bermuda and back 16 times. She won her class in 2002 and 2004. Then, in 2006, she won the St, David’s Lighthouse (amateur) Division of the centennial anniversary race – besting the largest fleet ever to compete in the “thrash to the onion patch.” In 2007, Sinn Fein became the first winner of the newly created Olin Stephens award for the boat with the best combined finishes in consecutive Newport to Bermuda and Marblehead to Halifax races.

Sinn Fein repeated her Bermuda Race victory in 2008, becoming only the second boat to win back-to-back races. She also won the inaugural North Rock Beacon Trophy for the best corrected time under IRC in the combined Gibbs Hill Lighthouse and St. David’s Lighthouse divisions. Overall, she has won her class four times and the Stephens trophy a similar number of times. In 2010 and 2012, she was second in class (to another Cal 40, Belle Aurore). In both these races, she was in the top eight boats overall in fleets of more than 100 boats.

With two weeks to go before Applications for Entry close on April 1st for the 49th Newport Bermuda Race, 158 boats have filed Applications for Entry. Among the list is Pete Rebovich with his family crew on Sinn Fein. The nearly 50-year-old Cal 40, which was almost entirely destroyed in Superstorm Sandy in 2012, has been rebuilt and will be on the starting line on June 20.

Click here for additional race entry details.

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