A Global Range: The Schooner
WORDS Jack Gifford | IMAGES James Robinson Taylor and Oli Riley
With the upcoming launch of 63m Athos, TIDE takes a look at some of the most famous schooners afloat today. Inspired by both past and future, these multi-mast vessels are hard to beat for a truly authentic sailing experience.
In marine lexicon, the word Schooner evokes historic imagery of billowing canvas, forests of spars, rigging and the seamanship of a bygone era. What gets less attention, however, is the contemporary coterie of these special two or three-mast vessels. A handful of Schooners still sail the world over, the crew earning their stripes as some of the most able yachtsmen and women on the water. This select fleet includes well preserved heritage pieces, historical replicas and modern state-of-the-art Superyachts, all sharing two things in common: a generous wardrobe of sails and a need for some serious sailing skill.
The practical argument for the multi-masted schooner rig may have diminished along with the world’s reliance on commercial sail, but the feelings stirred by these majestic creations of two or more masts are as strong as they ever were.
Past architectural masters such as Herreshoff, Burgess, Alden and Gardner are names synonymous with the Schooner, all having achieved great success by building on the heritage of their native Grand Banks fishing Schooners.
In 2014, a precise steel replica of the historic Grand Banks Schooner Columbia hit the water. Every inch of her is the picture of her 1923 namesake, following the original line drawings which were rediscovered decades later. The original was always intended to race, albeit against contemporary working craft, and the current incarnation was also built for a private owner - this time conducting charters as well as ‘boss trips’ and racing. Columbia is a familiar sight all the way from the West Indies up to Newport Sound and beyond. Competing in this year’s Newport to Bermuda race, she shared the start line with high performance trimarans and the latest maxi yachts to sail a course that was once the sole preserve of the Schooner. TIDE joined the boat for Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta earlier in the year granting us first-hand experience as to why these vessels held the monopoly on offshore racing - at least in America - until 1930. Standing abreast the mizzen mast as her full sail plan draws on a strong beam reach, the low-slung broad-shouldered Columbia seemingly smooths the choppy Caribbean seas before her.
The three masted Schooners Adix and Atlantic are a step up from the working boat chic of Columbia, both measuring 56m on deck. Adix has sailed just about every ocean in the world, and is a regular in ports on both sides of the Atlantic. Attending the recent Fife Regatta on the Clyde in Scotland, Captain Paul Goss displayed admirable talent, sailing at times with only three crew on deck; in confined waters he demonstrated in spite of her size not only the versatility of the rig but the mettle that Schooner crew are known for the world over. A stint on a sailing Schooner does wonders for the CV of a budding yachtsperson, especially if that Schooner is Adix. Setting 1500m2 of sail area across nine sails upwind, it’s hard to argue any of these sails are easy to handle. However, through 33 years of work, remodelling and refinement, Adix is the epitome of the well found and smartly sailed Schooner.
In Number 3, we delve into the world of the only lifting-keel Schooner This is US and 63m Athos, as well as numerous others. To read our interviews with captains and naval architects, as well a first-hand tribute to the late Eleonora by Ed Kastelein, ‘The Schooner Man’ himself, pick up a copy of TIDE Number 3