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The last decade has seen an unprecedented expansion of yachting in all its aspects: design and new construction in both power and sail; restoration and the renaissance of classic sailing yachts; racing; and the infrastructure that allows it all to happen. Yachting without all the new ports and marinas would be like driving without highways or flying without modern airports.
Yacht design and construction epitomize the very essence of "custom building," and unite a greater number of technical and artisanal skills than any other product. Jon Bannenberg, the designer who launched the modern era of yacht design, once said to me that designing and building a modem large yacht was like building a prototype Boeing 747 every time.
It would be impossible to cover every interesting yacht in a single book. They are all interesting. Yet for this volume choices had to be made, and no one could be better qualified to make that selection than authors Jill Bobrow—whom I have know for more years than I care to recall—and Kenny Wooton, the editor in chief and executive editor, respectively, of the premier yachting magazine Showboats International. In 1985 I wrote the Foreword to another book authored by Jill Bobrow and photographed by Dana Jinkins entitled The World's Most Extraordinary Yachts. What has transpired in the last 25 years in yachting is outrageous indeed!
This book covers a number of notable yachts, each demonstrating the ideas and determination of their owners, who, in some cases, must have prevailed over the hesitation of the designers to achieve their goals. I wonder what was said to Joe Vittoria, the owner of Mirabella V with her 300-foot+ (90-metre+) mast, and to Tom Perkins when he suggested the rig for The Maltese Falcon. Matching the interior of The Maltese Falcon to the external appearance was a work of genius on the part of designer Ken Freivokh.
I have had the good fortune to have visited personally many of the yachts featured in the book. In the 1980s I very nearly became the owner of Christina 0, with the intention of making her into a private club and restaurant in New York. It is better that she is still flourishing as a fully functional yacht, although no longer steam driven. Steam has always been a weakness of mine, so I am delighted that the authors have included S.S. Delphine in their selection. I saw Delphine in Marseilles just after she had arrived from the United States, and before her restoration. The current owners are to be congratulated on a great rebuild—and for keeping the steam engines.
I am glad that both the Royal Huisman and Perini Navi yards have yachts of their build included in this book. They are both flagships of build quality and innovation in their respective countries, as well as in the wider yacht-building industry. Both have brought much to ease the burden of handling large sailboats. Lucca Basani and his Wally yachts have brought style, glamour, and performance to the world of coastal sailors and racers. These days Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, the old Nioulargue race, would not be complete without four or five Wally yachts moored together, with their attendant quayside admirers. Lulworth is an extraordinary achievement in the classic yacht world. I saw her when she first arrived in Italy for her restoration. She was a pitiful sight; hard to imagine when you see her today. She is a real tribute to all the skilled and dedicated artisans who worked on her resurrection, for resurrection it truly was.
And the fact that there are possibly four new J-Class yachts currently under construction underscores the great attraction these incredibly gracious large racing yachts still have on the yachting public today.
As I write this foreword, the whole world is in financial turmoil, and the yachting industry along with it. However the 1930s, the era of the Great Depression, was a major period of large yacht construction and innovation. I am confident that the unique attractions of yachting will pull the industry through this current storm, and judging by the designs for future yachts at the end of the book, there is fair sailing ahead.
Foreword by George Nicholson
The Maltese Falcon
Wally 143 Esense
Sea Force One
On the Horizon