The Adventure Squad
WORDS: Alex Goldhill | IMAGES: Cory Silken
When time is the ultimate luxury, what does a $2.5 million refurbishment of a sailing yacht look like? Patrick Gavin-Brynes, captain of the newly re-launched Sonny III, talks hydraulic systems, custom carbon-fibre rigging and hoisting 192 square metres of sail in under 60 seconds.
“I put together the ultimate adventure squad”, says Captain Patrick Gavin-Brynes. “Onboard Sonny we’re not only sailors. Between us we have a scuba instructor, a lifelong surfer, a pro skier, and a musician.” He went on to show me around the extensive refit the sailing yacht has just been through at Brooklin Boat Yard, Maine.
Her 91-foot, cold-moulded hull was painted to a mirror-shine. Her new teak toe-rails and dorade boxes were varnished to perfection. A full system overhaul added convenience and speed, while the custom carbon fibre rig from Hall Spars and a new compliment of North Sails gave her that competitive edge.
Sonny III was originally built at Brooklin just three years before, so it was only fitting that she returned there for the work. She changed ownership in the spring of 2021 and with that change came a new vision for her future, focused on performance, simplicity and cruising comfort.
Gavin-Brynes says he “tripped and fell into sailing,” and he seems to have been falling uphill ever since. Starting with dingy racing on Lake George, NY, and working his way up to crew on legendary yachts like Spartan, a NY 50 Herreshoff design, he became the captain of Sonny directly after the yacht was sold in 2021. Leaning on his background as a rigger with Southern Spars, he oversaw the refit, helping to coordinate the many moving parts.
Sonny III was launched again in November 2021. “I remember that date exactly because she could only be launched on a Spring Tide due to her draft. We knew the date of the full moon months in advance. If we couldn’t hit that deadline, she’d probably have had to spend the winter in the shed.” The day arrived and Sonny splashed for the second time. A week later the new rig was in, and Gavin-Brynes and his crew were doing ‘shake-down’ sails in Penobscot bay.
With his adventure squad aboard, Sonny III was finally ready to sail south. “The morning we left we had to rent a leaf-blower and shovels to get the snow off the deck,” Gavin-Brynes recalls. The crew was undeterred, getting underway and not stopping until they reached Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Any boat that will get you there safely is a worthy vessel, but one that will get you there in comfort, at a speed that will thrill even the most hardened sailor, is a remarkable boat indeed. After that delivery she cruised to the Bahamas, where the owner was able to enjoy all the advantages of the new rig.
“The whole point of the refit was to be able to get the anchor and sails up in under 10 minutes.” Says Gavin-Brynes, which is certainly a challenge on any yacht of this size. For the owner, time itself is the real luxury. “Sometimes he might only have one hour free to go sailing. It’s the time he feels the most relaxed, so I wanted to minimize the time it took to actually get underway in order to maximize the sailing experience.”
How were they able to achieve this? To read the full interview about their maiden voyage down to St Barths for the 2022 Bucket Regatta, head to page 42 in TIDE number 2.