Classic | The restoration work is over
Eilean: on the sea again
Eilean, the 22-metre Bermudian ketch, designed and built in 1936 by the legendary Scottish boatyard Fife, has been returned to her original splendour after more than two and a half years of extensive restoration work. On October 22nd 2009, in a ceremony at the Sezione Velica of the Italian Navy in La Spezia, Eilean was handed over by the Francesco del Carlo boatyard to Officine Panerai, Italian manufacturers of high-end watches, already official sponsor of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the most important international circuit of regattas for classic and vintage yachts.
Delivery of Eilean, following the technical launch in September and subsequent trials at sea, took place in a ceremony provided by the Italian Navy, in the presence of Vice Admiral Franco Paoli, Commander in Chief of the Tyrrhenian Sea Department of the Italian Navy. Therewere a series of historical images and photos on display for the occasion, documenting the long story which has led to the salvage and rebirth of Eilean. Photographs of the restoration work were by Francesco Rastrelli.
Restoration has totally transformed Eilean from the deteriorated state she was in when Officine Panerai bought her in 2006. She was found off the Caribbean island of Antigua and brought back to Italy on a cargo ship in February 2007. Eilean then underwent complete renovation, which has preserved not only her shape and characteristics, but also most of her original materials too. For over two and a half years, this project kept a team of craftsmen at the Francesco Del Carlo boatyard in Viareggio, busy. They also worked in collaboration with works supervisor Enrico Zaccagni.
Eilean is characterised by waterlines whose proportions enhance her beauty. She has a Bermudian ketch sail plan, namely two masts, each with its own powerful triangular sail. Her structure is composite, with Burmese teak planking supported by a zinc-plated metal skeleton. With her sober essential lines and features, the boat was not originally constructed to take part in races. Stilltoday she shows her true soul and great elegance that is the perfect partner for her functional details. During her long history she has already crossed the Atlantic no less than 36 times. She also had her proverbial fifteen minutes of media fame in 1982 when she was chosen by the English pop group Duran Duran, at the height of their fame, as the set for their “Rio” video.
“Seeing Eilean restored to her former glory is very moving, and I am sure that all lovers of vintage sailing boats share my emotion, declared Angelo Bonati, Ceo of Officine Panerai. With her elegance and perfect lines, Eilean is not just an extraordinary example of craftsmanship and authenticity, but also a symbol of a love for the sea that only sailing manages to convey”.
Eilean will be setting out in early 2010 for her first Atlantic crossing since her restoration and in April 2010 will be taking part in the Antigua Classic Week, the first event in the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2010. At the end of the circuit, Eilean will also be the star of various initiatives that aim to spread the culture of sailing and of vintage and classic boats.