:: CLASSIC SMALL SAIL SHIPS (I) ::
This article covers diverse types of small sailing ships that have been in use along the 20th century, mostly for recreational purposes; all of them have been preserved to this day. The purpose of these ships is mainly competitions and mere leisure. Derived from the fishing schooners that appeared in the mid 19th century, these sloops, cutters, ketches or, broadly, yachtes, show that sailing and wooden construction still have presence nowadays, thanks to the many enthusiasts of these ships.
The rounded prow, common in almost every sailing yacht of the 20th century, was introduced in the late years of the 19th century by Thomas F. McManus. His most famous design was the fishing schooner Elsie, launched in 1910 in Essex, Massachusetts. The specifications were: length, 32.46 meters; beam, 7.62 meters; draft, 3.5 meters; displacement, 98 tonnes; sail area, 860 square meters. She was fitted with an engine after her unfavorable race with the Canadian schooner Bluenose in 1921. In 1935, under Canadian ownership, Elsie suffered the fatal incident that deprived the world from another historical ship: her seams opened at the stem rabbet and she foundered in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
Classic sailing yachtes 1896-1996
The British gaff cutter Avel from 1896. The specifications are: length, 22.85 meters; beam, 3.47 meters; draft, 2.3 meters; displacement, 27 tonnes; sail area, 219 square meters. Lacking any engine, Avel is one of the very few 19th-century hulls still afloat. She is recognisable because of her clipper bow, old-fashioned tiller and crew in vintage uniform. She takes her name from the Breton word for "wind". Designed for cruising, she has been raced regularly in the classic regattas on the Mediterranean.
Avel was launched the 14th May 1896 and built in only four months at Gosport, southern England. She was a classical yacht for her time with two remarkable characteristics: a concave stem and a keel line parallel to the waterline. These were designed to help cope with the hazards of navigating at low tides. From 1927 she remained buried in the mud of a river in south-eastern England. Avel was finally bought in 1990 and after a restoration, she is remarkably well maintained until today.
The 50-feet (15.5 meters) gaff cutter Rawene, launched in 1908, is a good example of the quality of the classic racing sail ships built in New Zealand. She had many racing thriumphs over the years, becoming the darling of the local Auckland Fleet. Her performance was so good under her highly developed gaff rig, and the sense of tradition and respect for her makers was so great, that her original owners were never tempted to shift to the modern Bermudan rig, adopted by many contemporaries. The newer owners installed an engine on her to better suit modern marine conditions, but a minimal approach has been taken on the restoration of the ship. She remains almost completely original and has avoided the modifications and technical improvements suffered by so many other classics.
The 15 Metre-class gaff cutter Tuiga was launched in 1909 in Scottish waters, being commissioned by the Duke of Medinacelli, a close friend of the King of Spain. Thus, she became one of the most beautiful sailing ships on the Mediterranean, honor shared with her twin, Royal Yacht Hispania, property of King Alphonse XIII. After several years of full restoration at the Fairlie Restoration Shipyards in England, Tuiga became the flagship of the Yacht Club of Monaco. The specifications are: overall length, 28.70 meters; beam, 4.15 meters; draft, 2.87 meters; displacement, 39 tonnes; sail area, 370 square meters.
Another fine construction from Scottish shipyards, the gaff cutter Moonbeam IV, launched in 1914, was completely refitted in 2001. She has an impressive amount of sailing surface and fabulous deck spaces. She has also a legendary racing history including, among others, the victories in the King's Cup of 1920 and 1923. And she was owned by Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1950, hosting the young prince and Grace Kelly on their honeymoon.
The inner space below the deck offers an airy and open interior, fitted with fine waxed rosewood paneling, Persian rugs and antique lamps. The salon includes two custom sofas and a formal dining table, while a large double hatch allows to receive ample natural light and fresh sea breezes. Up to six charter guests can be accommodated in three well appointed and generous cabins. The specifications are: overall length, 32 meters; beam, 5.1 meters; draft, 3.7 meters; sail area, 2760 square meters; engines, two Rolls Royce of 185 horsepower each; speed, 10-12 knots; crew, 5.
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