Classic sailing boats have their own special charm. They survive through the passion of their owners who are prepared for the challenges that go with maintaining and preserving a crafted vessel over the very convenient options with newer marine technologies. While Sydney harbour can put on a great spectacle of classic boats, nothing compares with the annual meet of classic boats in Cannes in the South of France.
I am privileged to be invited to join the crew of the J class Shamrock V for this celebration of tradition of sail. The invitation comes via Nick Ryan the skipper who as a youngster crewed on Suraya my modest 37 footer built in 1967 in Tasmania.
Shamrock V has an illustrious history. Built for Sir Thomas Lipton in the 1930’s, his fifth (unsuccessful) British challenge for the Americas Cup during the glory of the J class rule that defines the extreme side of one class sailing for sheer indulgence. Requiring crews of 25 plus to race 120 foot plus yachts, you would think their days are over, but you’d be wrong! Every year new builds are being launched leaving no doubt, we are living in, the most glorious days of sail!
Jim Clark who had his boat Comanche racing to second across the line in the last Sydney to Hobart race, also owns ‘Hanuman’, a J class, new build at 136 feet. While the format for the Régates Royales in Cannes is based on racing strictly classified traditional boats, reality is that it is very much a get together of like minded people to produce ‘art on water’.
Here are some images and links.