The rebirth of “Lulworth”, the biggest gaff-rigged cutter in the world
The competition yacht has left Tunisia. From its sequester to its new life in the Guardia di Finanza sailing school in Gaeta
A few days ago, a new life began for Lulworth, the biggest gaff-rigged cutter in the world. The Preliminary Investigations Judge in the Roman Court entrusted the vessel to the Guardia di Finanza, who will use it for training activities in the Scuola Nautica di Gaeta.
If you close your eyes you can imagine it gliding over the surface of the sea, with its sails unfurled in the wind. Beautiful. It is elegant with its 46 metres in length and a sail surface area of over 1,300 m2. Built in 1920, in the White Brothers Yard, near Southampton, this lady of the seas, today as it was then, keeps all its elegance and charm together.
LULWORTH: A SAILING YACHT WORTH 10 MILLION EUROS
She was the item of the most value sequestered three years ago by the Guardia di Finanza from a tax evading Roman entrepreneur, whose assets were valued at around 40 million euros, and Lulworth, on her own, is worth over 10 million.
The fixer was so in love with her that he tried every way possible to make her disappear, transferring her from Porto delle Grazie (Porto Venere) to the Spanish port in Palma de Mallorca, where, in 2017 the vessel departed for a top secret destination.
And Lulworth is beautiful enough to make one go mad. Her 100 years make her even more charming. Who knows how many people have come on board her and how many stories have been told.
THE MANY LIVES OF LULWORTH: FROM COMPETITION TO SEQUESTER
Designed by Herbert W. White and built with an extremely refined technique, Lulworth was born to race. Richard H. Lee, her first owner, wanted a vessel which would allow him to compete in a high-end competition of Europe: the British “Big Class”.
Her second owner, Herbert Weld, decided to change her name from “Terpsichore”, the Greek goddess of dance, which was the name given to her by Lee, into Lulworth, the name of the town in Dorset where his family castle was located. Weld’s grandfather was a founding partner of the Royal Yacht Squadron.
Between 1920 and 1930 Lulworth took part in 258 regattas, winning 59 first places. It was a part of the glorious fleet of elite yachts known as the Big Five, which made sea-lovers dream big at the time, with their wins in the main sailing races.
Then, in 1930, with the arrival in the America’s Cup of the innovative J-Class design, Lulworth had to bid its career farewell. No more sails filled with wind, no sweat or salt water to sting the faces of its crew.
Having miraculously survived the bombings in the Second World War, in particular the air raid that destroyed the bay in which it was anchored, in 1947 Lulworth began its second life, far from the sea and the beloved regattas, but it was still a new life! Richard Lucas and his wife Renè, enchanted by the beauty of the vessel, saved it from an inglorious end by transforming it into their floating home, in the waters of the Hamble River.
The road from the Hamble River to La Spezia was not a short one. And yet it was here in 2001 that the story of the magnificent cutter picks up again, when a Dutch owner, Johan Van Den Bruele fell madly in love, deciding to invest 10 million dollars to bring her, now a wreck, back to her former glory, through the refit “of a century”.
Master craftsmen, decking specialists, caulkers and carpenters of great experience, coming from at least 16 different areas came to Viareggio to take part in the refit of one of the most famous sailing yachts of all time. The work was completed in 2006. Then, more races, with period vessels this time, the sequester, and her arrival in Tunisia.
RETURN TO ITALY ESCORTED BY THE GUARDIA DI FINANZA
A few days ago, on the cusp of 100 years old, this marvellous gem of the seas, left the port in Tunisia, which was home for three years, to be escorted by the Guardia di Finanza once again, to Italy. A beautiful life with sails unfurled to this splendid lady of the seas who can share so many stories of so many lives lived, but still makes us fall in love with her today.
Maria Cristina Sabatini
Builder: White Brothers (1920)
Length: 46.3 m
Mast sailing plan (1926/2006):
52m spruce mast
27.60m spruce boom
20m sitka spruce spinnaker beam
133 m2 marconi topsail
114 m2 staysail
69.5 m2 jib
46.5 m2 topsail jib
500 m2 spinnaker