Race returns after four-year hiatus

Published on January 9th, 2023

The start for the 2023 Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race (MHOR) isn’t until July 9, but the 352 nm international course already has a record total of 60 boats signed up.

First started in 1905, the MHOR is one of the world’s oldest ocean races, with the 39th biennial race returning after a four-year COVID hiatus.

One of the newcomers to the race is also the oldest boat signed up so far, the 1936 Phil Rhodes designed cutter Kirawan which was designed for and won the 1936 Newport to Bermuda race.

In 2017, Dan Levangie had been looking for a classic boat to restore for three or four years when he came across a listing for Kirawan. The boat was sitting within a boatshed in Wickford, Rhode Island, where she had been for the last 16 years after her then owner had filed for bankruptcy.

Sail GP

“We bought the boat and took her up to Loughborough Marine in Portsmouth for extensive restoration,” Levangie said. “A good partner of mine told me that projects like this take twice as long and cost twice as much as you expect, and he was right!”

They were all prepared to participate in the 2020 Newport to Bermuda race but then everything came to a halt because of the pandemic and instead Kirwan’s first major race outing was the 2022 Newport to Bermuda.

“We were really thrilled by the way she handled,” he said. “Especially in the really heavy weather when there were big seas and winds gusting to 35 knots, you just knew you were in a classic ocean racing boat.”

The rebirth of the boat has rekindled memories, with Levangie receiving an email from a guy in Texas who had been the navigator on Kirawan when she participated in the 1964 Los Angeles to Tahiti race, a 3,200 nm odyssey which took them 20 days to complete.

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