The fleet of seven classic sailing yachts gathered in Porto Cervo, Sardinia for the Veteran Big Boat Rally, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda from 12th to 15th September, has attracted several curious onlookers, drawn not so much by the size of the fleet, but by the size of each individual yacht. With four of the participating veteran superyachts boasting an overall length of more than 40 metres, the sight of these sailing giants of bygone days with their vast sail plans parading through the islands of the La Maddalena archipelago is one not to be missed.
One participant that is particularly familiar with Sardinian waters, and which participated at the inauguration of Porto Cervo Marina in 1976, is the 42-metre Croce del Sud. The classic triple masted schooner was commissioned by the Granelli family in 1933 and has never changed ownership, despite having been commandeered by the German army during World War II and used as officers’ quarters. The yacht is now in the capable hands of Bruno Mentasti, son-in-law of the original owner.
The largest of the “big boats” participating in the rally is the 55 metre schooner ELENA. Built in 2009 to the exacting standards of the original N.G. Herreshoff design, this reproduction of the 1910 yacht of the same name has been meticulously constructed in steel using 320 hand-drawn plans supplied by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston and information from the family-run Herreshoff design office in Rhode Island.
The 49.5 metre sailing yacht Eleonora is also a reproduction of a Herreshoff design. Westward was the 1910 sistership to Elena and today’s Eleonora yacht is a scaled-down version of the two masted schooner. With a sail area of 1,100 m2 Eleonora regularly competes in classic sailing regattas in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
The 38 metre S/Y Mariette is another twin masted schooner designed and built by Hereshoff and launched in 1915. Following an extensive refit in early 2010 Mariette has been sailing in classic yacht regattas around the world.
Superyacht Moonbeam IV, owned by Xavier Tancogne, is the largest of four Moonbeam yachts commissioned by Charles Plumtre Johnson and her construction was begun in 1914 but was not completed until after the war in 1920. In 1950 Prince Rainier of Monaco bought yacht Moonbeam and the 35 metre gaff cutter hosted the newly-wed couple of the Prince and Grace Kelly on their honeymoon.
The 36.55 metre Bermudian ketch Sylvia was launched in 1925. Her teak hull was built by Camper and Nicholson in the UK and at the beginning of this century she spent several years completing a round the world trip.
Launched in 1907, the gaff yawl Veronique is the most senior of the classic yachts participating in the Veteran Big Boat Rally. Boasting over 20 years of experience in classic regattas, at 18.9 metres in length she is also the smallest of the fleet.
Racing is schedule to begin tomorrow, 13th September at 11.30 a.m. Approximately 8 knots of easterly wind are forecast.