Rod Harris Photography
For Steve Eddleston, sailing had never been an option. Born in the UK, he grew up in New Zealand and had never considered sailing despite Auckland being one of the “most pristine sailing areas in the world.” With a love for music, Eddleston was “a musician and musicians don’t think about just going down to the dock and jumping on a boat.”
It wouldn’t be until the late nineties after a very successful career working with computers and programming that he was drawn to something else entirely. “I have only ever worked on computers. It’s all very binary. It’s challenging yes, but I was afraid that I would get to my sixties and realize ‘Hey! I’ve never done anything different.’"
It was at that moment in his Maine home looking out on the water that “It hit me. Sailing. Sailing is all analog, computers are digital. With sailing it's all feelings, and currents and tides. It is all physical and gut, feeling the wind on your face.” With that, Eddleston grabbed an Uncle Henry magazine at the supermarket, and purchased his first sailboat from the sailing section, a fourteen foot Hobie Cat.
“Of course I think now, ‘great idea Steve, you dummy!’ When you’re starting out sailing you should probably get something a little slower.” While his first sail of the new Hobie Cat lasted about “50 yards before I was thrown off,” Eddleston soon became a talented self-taught sailor, regularly competing in the Maine regatta circuit with his son.
In 2008, he decided to “quit computers,” and while his original dream of the next chapter centered around Hawaii, many mai tais, and “lots of Jimmy Buffet playing,” Eddleston soon embarked on another passion project originating from his love of running.
Finding “Planet Fitness,” Eddleston was tasked with building eight gyms in eight years. Soon however, it was ten years and fifteen gyms later. Seeking “something different” to do as a special party for his management staff, Eddleston who was a member of the Herreshoff Marine Museum and lover of maritime history, saw that the iconic schooner Eros was available for charter.
Eddleston and his staff competed in the 2018 Herreshoff Regatta, chartering Eros for those two days. In 2019, he again chartered Eros competing in the regatta once more, a last hurrah as the sale of his gyms was on the near horizon. It was through the owners of Eros that Eddleston was connected to a wooden boat surveyor who when he learned of Eddleston interested in purchasing “something a little smaller than a schooner,” posed the question “well, what about the 12-metre, Weatherly?”
Weatherly was built by the Luders Marine Construction Company in 1958. Designed by famed naval architect Philllip Rhodes, this 12 Meter Class sloop was built for the purpose of defending the 1958 America’s Cup. Despite losing in 1958, Weatherly returned and became the victorious defender in the 1962 America’s Cup.
The storied vessel was donated in 1965 to the United States Merchant Marine Academy, utilized as a training boat before being sold in 1970. Weatherly went on to spend many years on the Great Lakes under private ownership.
In 1986, Weatherly came into the hands of George Hill who sailed her back to Newport RI, traveling through the Panama Canal. She continued to serve as a charter vessel under Hill’s ownership until Spring of this year.
When the suggestion of purchasing Weatherly was brought to his attention, Eddleston immediately knew that it was meant to be. As it turned out, Eddleston had fatefully been a part of a charter on Weatherly in 2002. “Weatherly and I touched each other's souls. I mean she was the most gorgeous vessel I had ever sailed.”
When Eddleston discovered that Weatherly was in great condition, and ready in the water, he made the purchase and acquired the vessel in April of this year. Most recently, Eddleston has competed with Weatherly in the Newport summer regatta circuit. “Like Weatherly, the story at the end of the day, is if you fail once, try again.”