Following a 10 year career at sea as a yacht captain, Bill Haynie moved ashore to Newport RI and now works as a broker with Wellington Yacht Partners in Portsmouth, RI. He draws from his experience to offer continued project and program management services to select clients via his company Ransom Marine.
Bill has been working closely with SWD since 2020 when his client purchased Zemphira (originally launched in 2005 as Goshawk). Work included rebuilding to a demanding specification needed to satisfy a rigorous racing and cruising program of her new owner. We invited him to weigh-in on Zemphira, racing, and the performance of the boat after a major design renovation from Stephens Waring Design, carefully implemented by Lyman Morse Boatbuilding.
SW: What has been the biggest surprise in sailing Zemphira following her recent renovation?
BH: I think the boat surprised the entire race team with her performance – even by modern standards – which says a lot, given the caliber of crew we raced with. We had guys onboard with 3, 4, 5 America’s Cups, multiple Olympic campaigns, many TP52 Cups etc and they all admitted that they came in with lower expectations but left on a cloud. The boat is really light and quick in all conditions, super light on the helm, and tweakable to the extreme. Just enough power to feel really lively but surefooted enough that we could also put the owner on the wheel without getting nervous (in the right conditions). And per the bow team “teak is way more comfortable on the butt than carbon & nonskid”.
SW: Zemphira went through an extensive renovation period. What were the most challenging decisions that had to be made during the redesign and construction process?
BH: With any refit, most modifications come with some sort of compromise, and it’s important to strike the right balance that meets the owner’s use case and directive. From a 10,000 ft level, finding this balance is always my biggest challenge – in many refits past I have had to deal more with performance or reliability vs cost, but in this case we were most often dealing with performance vs comfort, or occasionally performance vs aesthetic. There were a couple of cases where we had to stop and ask you “can the boat handle this type of load” and we were pleasantly surprised to find that we were not really limited (by the design or structure) in how agressive we could get with bigger/stiffer sails, rigging, and deck hardware.
SW: How does Zemphira address the needs of her owners, from racing to daysailing to cruising? What modifications have contributed most to the owners’ enjoyment of her in this first season of use?
BH: Zemphira certainly satisfied the owners’ itch for racing and winning, Ithink our collection of silver from last Summer speaks to that. This style of racing (SoT) is unique because it is about style and aesthetic as well as on-water performance, and the owners – being classic yacht fanatics – were very happy with the overall look and appeal of the boat. To go a little bit deeper, part of the reason we took initial interest in Zemphira (ex-Goshawk) was that she offered a surprising amount of square footage on the deck, aft of the sailing cockpit and runner winches. This seemed to be tough to find on such long, narrow, classic designs with overhangs like Zemphira, but in this case the dimensions worked perfectly. Because these owners intended to sail and race with some older (and often inexperienced) friends/guests, we liked that we had the ability to offer guest seating back there which was well out of the way of all maneuvers and of all loaded lines & winches. The pulpit bench + bean bags turned out to be both effective and comfortable – all in all a huge hit for racing and for daysailing.
SW: Zemphira has always been a performance-forward sailing yacht, but she has recently cleaned up with some big regatta wins including three Class A wins at Safe Harbor Race Weekend in Newport, RI. How have the modifications changed her handling on the racecourse?
BH: Although I never got to sail her as Goshawk (as she was born), the difference in performance numbers ‘on paper’ and on-water is dramatic. Designwise, the new keel & rudder really seemed to bring the boat to life and we were impressed with how balanced she was in all conditions. In the systems & hardware category, one of the most critical upgrades we made was the installation of a fully custom hydraulics system. This new system allowed us to turn the corners much faster than would’ve been possible with the original Harken system. Andrew also did a great job in designing an efficient deck layout for all the sheet leads, blocks, clutches, etc. Finally, Tony Rey of Doyle Sails got us some new rags which of course bring it all together. We started with a fairly light sail inventory (one, jib, one kite) since we planned on a new rig at some point, and this year we’ll be adding a few more to that lineup. I think the whole crew was pretty happy with the shape and performance of the sails, an I think the black-on-black made for some striking photos.
SW: Renovation work included the installation of a new cutting-edge steel and lead keel system and thinner, sleeker carbon fiber rudder. How have the modifications changed your (and the crews) relationship with the boat?
BH: I think I can safely speak for Andrew [on-board boat manager], Kirsty [captain], myself, and for the owners in saying that we’ve all fallen in lust with this boat. She’s so stunningly beautiful that you almost forget how powerful of a weapon she is on a racecourse. We are really lucky that she landed in the hands of owners who are so passionate and qualified to treat the boat with the ongoing care and upgrades that she deserves, even despite some seriously expensive setbacks and surprises early on. In giving their crew (myself included) a blank slate, a healthy budget, and a long leash, they really got us excited and kept us excited about the project. It was extremely rewarding to look back during a race to see both owners sitting in a busy cockpit, hand on the wheel and big smiles on the face. I think everyone (some of the competitors included!?) is excited to see the boat back on the water next Summer.
SW: What are the future plans for Zemphira?
BH: We’ve just been given the greenlight to replace the spars, which were really the only components that were original to the boat – literally everything else onboard had been replaced or seriously modified during the past two winters. We have an Offshore Spars mast & boom on order, along with a set of EC6 carbon rigging. This is essentially ‘the last step’ (in my opinion) to fully turbo-charging the boat to her maximum potential. We’ll spend this Winter at Lyman Morse again, who have done a really great job all along and even managed to make it an enjoyable process for the crew and outside contractors involved. Big shout out and thank you to Lyman, Andrew, Kirsty, to all of our contractors, the race team, and to the owners for allowing us to have so much fun on such a cool platform. Oh – and thanks to Stephens Waring for taking on such an involved role throughout this whole process!
About Bill Haynie
Bill originally hails from the east coast port of Charleston, SC. Having sailed recreationally throughout his youth, he decided to make boats and yachts his career path at 20 years old. He spent over 10 years working as a captain/engineer on sailing yachts from 55ft – 110ft LOA, with programs ranging from remote cruising to heavy chartering to high-level racing. He accumulated nearly 75,000 nautical miles on both monohulls and catamarans.
Bill switched tacks and moved ashore in 2018 to work as a broker. Given his background as captain/manager, he continues to offer management services to select brokerage clients who purchase or sell power and sailboats of all types and sizes, now having overseen some ~$25 million worth of refit projects across his career. He especially values and focuses on his buyer-clients and has built a reputation on helping clients in all sizes/categories sift through the options to find the vessel that best suits their needs and budget.
Read More about Zemphira’s Major Renovation