Six months before the first start the third week of January, the St.Maarten-St.Martin Classic Yacht Regatta had received already their first official registrant, the St.Barth-based classic Lone Fox. The yacht was built in 1957 for Colonel Whitbread, of Whitbread Breweries, the original sponsor of the Whitbread Round the World Race. He had the English designer, Robert Clark, draw a 65′ Ocean Racing Ketch, built by Alexander Robertson and Son in Sandbank, Scotland. It was Colonel Whitbread’s personal yacht until he passed away in 1983.
Lone Fox was originally rigged with Spruce masts but she slipped on the railway in 1985 at the Robertson Yard and was dismasted by the boom of the yard’s crane. The yacht then found its way to Ventura, California after a couple of owners and a short life in the Caribbean. There Lone Fox was fortunate to find its care entrusted to Christopher Von Trampe, a masterful artisan and project visionary.
Von Trampe brought her back to the equivalent of the Lloyds 100A+ rating she had been built to. He campaigned Lone Fox all over the California Coast and won the San Francisco Master Mariner’s Regatta in 2000 and 2001. In 2003, she transited the Panama Canal and returned to her new Caribbean home berth in the port of Gustavia, St. Barth. Von Trampe, interested in pursuing other projects, offered the boat for sale in 2004 which is when owner and captain Ira Epstein first became aware of her. Epstein saw and sailed on the yacht in August 2004, but was not yet ready to commit so returned to his home in San Francisco.
“In August 2006, I was in Newport, Rhode Island and as I walked to the end of Bannister’s Wharf, there sat Lone Fox on a mooring almost like saying, ‘Well, what about me? Why are you still looking when I am sitting right here?’” says Epstein. “It was shortly thereafter that the wheels were put in motion to ultimately change my life by returning to the Caribbean, after 31 years since I had delivered the Alden Schooner Lord Jim to San Francisco from Antigua.
In November 2006, we set sail from Newport Rhode Island to our new home in Gustavia.”
“We have just completed our first successful charter season in St. Barth’s and a respectful near miss to get second place in Antigua Classic Regatta,” Epstein says. “After completing the Caribbean winter season we want to transit the Atlantic and compete in as many of the major Mediterranean classic regattas as possible in 2008.”
The St.Maarten-St.Martin Classic Yacht Regatta takes place January 17 to 20, 2008 and is organized by West Indies Events for the St.Maarten-St.Martin Classic Yacht Regatta Foundation.