I am sure that the “Google Boat” name drives owners Chris Welsh and Sir Richard Branson up the wall, considering that the “Virgin” logo is so much more pronounced on the boat, and that they are the two primary owners. But that local colloquialism may be fading faster than we think.
The boat’s actual name is The Cheyenne, and on July 17th, Harbor Commissioner Chris Miller decided not to renew its permit after having it moored here since 2010. The Cheyenne has never had a single complaint ever lodged, and is a favorite amongst both locals and tourists alike. Technically, the boat has no permit to reside in Newport after the 31st of July, but the Harbor Commission has granted it an extra month of stay, making its final day on August 31st. The owners of the Cheyenne have until August 7th to appeal the decision.
The history of the boat is a long and awesome one– and I know you are curious, so I will cover it here:
Originally, the boat was known as “PlayStation” and was built and designed for a single sailing race called “The Race”, and actually wound up breaking the 24-hour distance record. Originally designed at 105ft, the boat was lengthened to 125ft in August of 2000 and now holds a crew of 12. … 12! After that extension, in 2001, the boat was sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 4 days and 17 hours, setting a yet another world record. One more record was set for the fastest around-the-world sailing, at 58 days 9 hours 32 minutes and 45 seconds in 2004.
In 2007, Steve Fossett, the original owner, passed, and two years later Newport Beach resident and co-founder of Virgin Oceanic, Chris Welsh, purchased it from Fossett’s estate.
Between Fossett, Welsh, and Sir Branson, the boat was outfitted to become the “mothership” of a single-person dive vehicle intended to map the deepest of ocean floors. However, due to the fact that this has been the first-of-its-kind attempts, there have been setback after setback in getting the right materials to do the right thing in order to build out this awesome project. In the meantime, the beautiful boat has resided in the harbor, originally moored off of Bay Island, and more recently moored off of 10th street. It is a welcome addition to Newport Beach and it will be sad to see it go– if it does. I support the project and the stay of the boat in Newport. It gives our little beach a bit more character to have a triple-world-record setting boat in our harbor. And let’s be honest– it really is a beautiful boat.