Restored and Reborn: The Story of Kirawan

Kirawan has established a vast history and legacy within her 85-year lifespan. She was designed by naval architect Philip Rhodes, with the intention of winning the 1936 Newport to Bermuda Race. Having previously finished last at the 1934 race, Rhodes wanted to design a powerful but elegant vessel that would guarantee the win.

The notorious 36’ race was defined by its harsh weather, culminating in a 40 knot SE gale that would last for 4 days. Despite being crewed by all amateurs, including designer Rhodes, Kirawan emerged victorious, in large part due to her apt design. Current owner Dan Levangie describes,

“If you read the story of the 1936 race, they attribute a lot of her ability to keep charging through the heavy winds and weather to the hard dodger that people were able to hide underneath.”

Kirawan would pass through several hands, even briefly renamed Silvana until 1954 when she was sold to an owner on the West Coast. During her career there, Kirawan’s resume grew exponentially, notably including her participation in the 1955 and 57’ TransPac races. She was acquired by movie producer “Sandy” Horowitz in 1999 who would restore her out of his yacht club in California. 

In 2000, she made her way back to the East Coast, returning to Newport in preparation for the 2000 Newport to Bermuda Race. Unfortunately the race was not accompanied by the same good fortune of its 34’ predecessor, and Kirawan found herself in need of repair after one of the hull seams opened up during the race. The crew was able to temporarily fix the issue, and Kirawan successfully made her way to a Bermuda finish. 

After sailing in the OpSail 2000 parade of Tall Ships, Kirawan was transported to Wickford, Rhode Island for extensive repairs that Horowitz was unable to complete after filing a motion for personal bankruptcy. Following Horowitz’ filing, Kirawan would remain in the same Wickford shed that Dan Levangie would find her in sixteen years later. 

Experienced boater, Dan Levangie “had been looking for a classic to restore.” The owner of 60-foot Ted Hoop sloop, Windwalker, was “intrigued by classics, and wanted to finish a restoration.” Levangie, who kept Windwalker in the Hinkley Yard in Portsmouth was aware of nearby Loughborough Marine Interests, who is well known for their extensive restoration of classic yachts.“I was aware Luffborough had just completed a restoration of Santana which I saw launched, and I said ‘I just have to do something like this!’”

After searching online for quite some time, Levangie soon came upon Kirawan, who remained in Wickford. 

“She was a complete mess. She had been in that shed for over a decade, and hadn’t been taken care of at all. There was a family of raccoons living in her.”

Despite her condition, Levangie was determined to breathe new life into the long-retired classic. Hauling Kirawan to Loughborogh Marine, Joe Loughborough and his team began a complete restoration on the reclaimed vessel. 

Before the restoration

The two year project saw a complete restoration that remained consistent with the original design excluding the interior, which was “such a disaster that we had to do a redesign as well as a restoration” describes Levangie. The restoration included the installation of a new track deck, refinishment of the hull, and replacement of the keelson, rudder, and horn timber. 

After the extensive restoration by Loughborough Marine

Refitted and reborn, Kirawan sailed again last September following her launch. While Levangie originally intended to bring Kirawan home to the 2020 Bermuda Race, the Covid-19 pandemic put the competitive sailing circuit in a standstill. Levanige hopes to bring her life full circle at the 2022 Bermuda Race: “We want to bring her back to her greatest glory. She won in 36’ and we want to try again.”

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