New parents spend hours poring over baby books to come up with the perfect name for their little one. Some boat owners also think long and hard about the ultimate moniker for their water ‘babies’, while others are struck by instant inspiration. Either way, it’s fun to learn the story behind the titles of some of the most popular racing sailboats.
One of the leaders on the scoreboard in every major Caribbean regatta from the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, to the Puerto Rico Heineken Regatta, International Rolex Regatta, BVI Spring Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week is the J/27, Magnificent 7. St. Thomas’ John Foster first owned this J/27 and the name is due to his love of westerns, specifically the 1960s-made The Magnificent Seven. Fellow islander, Paul Davis, bought the boat six years ago and decided to keep the name, albeit shortened to Mag 7. “It’s a familiar boat and a legend on the local sailing scene,” says Davis. “We kept the name because we wanted to carry on the legend.” Davis has big plans for the name in the future. “We are going to start a swim suit line with the Mag 7 logo in order to buy a new boat,” he says. “The J/27 is pretty old and we want to buy a J/105.”
The computer-animated film, Madagascar, produced by DreamWorks, served as the spur for Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres’ to name his Beneteau First 40, Smile & Wave. “My five-year-old daughter loves that movie. There’s this snooty little penguin that steals a freighter, gets ratted out, and when he’s caught just smiles and waves. We want to live up to that name, to keep a positive attitude no matter what.” The name, which is printed on Torres’ crews’ shirts, as well as the boat’s transom, is very popular, he says. “The girls in St. Maarten wanted to rip the shirts off our backs!”
Dave West, a Great Lakes sailor who transplanted to the British Virgin Islands in 2008, decided to use the inspiration of his new home to name his brand-new Melges 32, Jurakan. “Jurakan was the Taino God of wind,” says West, whose crew during the recent Rolex regatta was hiking so hard that it looked like they were praying to King Neptune instead.
Some sailors, like St. Croix’s Tony Sanpere, follows the unwritten rule of naming his successive sailboats identically – or almost identically. “What do you call a sailboat with a red hull, red spinnaker, red staysail and red bloopers that you think is going to be hot,” Sanpere says of the Seidleman 30 he bought in 1980 and named Cayenne. His next boat was a Hunter 35, which he named Cayenne 2 before moving up to a Beneteau 51 he dubbed Cayenne 3. “I didn’t want Cayenne 4, so when I bought my Soverel 27, I named it Cayennita,” he says. Currently, he’s racing a J/36, appropriately called Cayennita Grande.
Other sailors follow the superstition that its bad luck to change a boat’s name. “When I bought my first J/24, it was named Orion, so I left it,” says Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo, who calls his IC/24, Orion, as well.
Sometimes it’s a sail number that sparks a boat name. “Since our sail number was 007, I was thinking of something with a James Bond theme,” says Annie O’Sullivan, who runs GirlsForSale, an RYA sail training program out of the UK whose women students race aboard an Elan 37 named Diamonds are Forever on both sides of the Atlantic. “What girl doesn’t like diamonds?” says O’Sullivan.
Finally, leave it to a banker to show his ‘wild’ side. St. Thomas’ Lawrence Aqui, an executive at Scotiabank, bought a brand new Dufour 40 last year. “My other boat, Top Gun, came with its name, but I was able to name the Dufour myself,” says Aqui, who Caribbeanized the title of the popular 1960s song, Wild Thing, to Wild T’ing. “That’s our theme song,” says Aqui, who adds, “a boat’s name is what really unifies a team.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.