Star Flyer was the first of three sailing vessels built by Star Clipper founder Mikael Kraft, a Swedish-born entrepreneur and life-long sailing enthusiast. She was built in Ghent, Belgium in 1991, followed a year later by sister ship Star Clipper – and in 1994 by Royal Clipper– a larger five-masted 439-foot rendition of the same basic design, built in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Meant to marry the traditions and romance of the past with the comforts and amenities of the present, Star Flyer features a pair of swimming pools, two bars/lounges, library, satellite television, phone and internet service – plus a massage center and gift shop.
As for statistics and dimensions, Star Flyer weighs in at 2,298 tons, measures 360 feet in length, with a beam of 50 feet and a draft of 18 feet. She has 16 sails measuring a total of 36,173 square feet, augmented by a 1,361 horsepower Caterpillar diesel engine to provide auxiliary power as needed. Crew members number 74 and her maximum passenger capacity is 170.
Passengers and crew represented quite a mix of nationalities – 22 in all – with Germans comprising about half the passenger roster and Americans, Brits and Canadians making up most of the remaining half. Cabin stewards and dining room staff were primarily Philippinos and Indonesians, with deck hands/riggers mostly hailing from India and Indonesia.
Captaining Star Flyer for the crossing was Brunon Borowka from Poland. A veteran Star Clipper captain, Borowka has stood at the helm of all three Clipper vessels, off and on since 1995. A life-long mariner, he’s a graduate of Poland’s Maritime College in Gdansk and also the Polish Merchant Marine Academy.
As for other key officers, Peter Burkhard of Germany served as hotel manager, while the all-important role of cruise director fell to Italian Matt Napoli. Burkhard is new to Star Clipper Cruises, joining the company in July, 2014, following on a 26 year career at sea with such lines as Royal Caribbean, Hapag Lloyd, and Swan Atlantic, where he served in various hotel and food & beverage director roles. Thailand native Napoli, who has lived most of his life in the Italian Alps near Turin, also has recently joined Star Clipper on the heels of 10 years prior service as cruise director, guest service representative and entertainer with Costa and Norwegian Cruise Lines.