This revolutionary racing yacht was built in 1901. In the 30s, she sank, in 2015 she was raised, and in 2019 they completed a four-year reconstruction. Now “Esther” is ready to race again!
History of creation
The phrase "ahead of its time" has already been wiped out, but about the most beautiful 50ft Ester you cannot say otherwise. It was created 120 years ago by a Swedish designer Gunmar Mellgrenbut it looks strikingly like a yacht IACC... A flying nose, a bulwark along its entire length, and under water - a completely modern keel and cantilever rudder.
And this similarity is not limited to aesthetics. Ester built with the same obsession with weight loss as any modern yacht America's Cup (albeit in oak, mahogany and steel), and the same disregard for cost. Its original design cost 15,000 kronor - more than 500,000 pounds to date.
Ester was created to take Tivoli Cup in the sailing competition between Sweden and Finlandheld in Sandhamne on Stockholm archipelago. Bo Ericsson (he along with By Per Hellgren found and saved the yacht) explains:
“Competition between Sweden and Finland - today it is expressed in hockey - is always for life and death! Tivoli Cup was a great event here. Ester built to win one race and put a lot of money into it - it was fabulously expensive back then. "
"Esther" won Tivoli Cup, as well as almost every race in which I managed to participate in a decade. Even after being resold and modified by the end of the 30s, it was quite competitive. But one day the yacht sank, and part of the history of yachting was lost forever.
Until one day Bo Ericsson, a fan of classic yachts, did not read the legend about Ester... He was so carried away by her that he even created a small model based on drawings and photographs of those years. “We thought to build a copy, but it was just a dream. The yacht must have vanished irrevocably, and it never occurred to me to try to find it, ”Beau recalls.
Nevertheless, in a strange irony of fate, a certain fisherman told him about a yacht that caught fire and sank in the 30s near Örnsköldsvik, in North-west Sweden... Ericsson immediately thought of "Esther", but this place was only a couple of kilometers from his house!
After several years and dives, the silt-covered wreck was found. Lifting the yacht was no easy task and professional divers had to be involved. The water was so cloudy that the exact location Ester became famous only after one of the divers hit his head on her overhanging nose. To free the keel and hull, the compressor had to be blown through the mud.
The rescue Ester was a standout event as it marked a moment in yachting history when the very best designs were far ahead of the materials and technology available at the time.
"Esther" demonstrates radical assembly techniques. Built two years before the Wright brothers' maiden flight, the structure already used hollow rivets on a metal frame to reduce weight - a technology adopted in the aviation industry. Its displacement is only 3.5 tons, of which 1.5 tons are on the keel.
“She's one of a kind,” explains Ericsson. - There were other designers who designed this type of yacht, but they did not last long, until about 1905. They had to be excluded due to their fragility. The yachts were out of course and the rules had to be changed. They were too easy to build, and they weren't enough for a long time. "
What Ester survived - a testament to the genius of her designer Gunmar Mellgrenas well as craftsmanship and attention to detail during assembly. The result is an incredibly lightweight and durable yacht.
“Every detail is in place,” Bo explains. “If you take each of these tiny things individually, be it a deck piece or anchorage, they are pretty fragile. But together they create a strong structure. ”
Ester raised in pretty good condition. The late naval architect and yacht historian Theo Rye, who did some early design work on the project, measured it after lifting and was quite surprised with the result. The difference between the starboard and port sides was less than 7 mm, and this is after 75 years at the bottom of the sea!
It looks like salinity Baltic Sea helped save the tree. However, when the yacht was lifted and began to dry out, millimeters of the hull began to flake off. Ester needed a complete refurbishment.
Rebirth of a legend
The yacht was set up with all the precautions in the yard of Ericsson. To prevent the wood from drying out too quickly, she was placed in a shed with an earthen floor, where the moisture level was optimal for the yacht. But at low Arctic temperatures, restoration work has become even more difficult.
The yacht was restored in parts. The original steel keel has survived, but very little remains.
"Ester built from combined materials. The frame was mild steel, but the frames were completely corroded, ”says Bo. “We had to make new templates and new frames to reassemble the frame. Then we made new beams and connected them with new steel frames. We changed the keel and started changing the hull, bar by bar. "
The reenactors tried to preserve the original materials as much as possible. The mild steel of those times was strengthened with stainless steel, the skin was glued more firmly. “Otherwise, everything is exactly the same: mahogany, oak and Swedish pine, and for rigging, spruce and pine,” recalls Ericsson.
“She has seven stringers on each side, all the same size. We had some fantastic 12m long mahogany planks, so the difference from the original is not significant. ”
Other details have been preserved in the original, but they look strikingly modern. “When I looked at the old rig, I was surprised at its simplicity. With these rope karabiners, the yacht looked very old-fashioned, almost like a fishing boat, ”says Bo.
“But then I thought it was the same brilliant solution! Likewise, modern racing yachts use kevlar or dynema carabiners. If you put a metal pole on the mast, it may break in that place. The hinge is softer, lighter and safer in this regard. ”
Back in business
Four years after the mud revolt Ester again lowered into the water. She just got on Monaco Classic Week 2019, and also checked out on Les Voiles de St Tropez, where her appearance fully justified Ericsson's years of waiting.
“The boom is only 50 cm from the deck, walking on it is another challenge. You have to be on your feet all the time and dive every time you change tack. Naturally, after 5-6 hours you feel completely exhausted. But at the same time, it's like seeing the first model Ferrari... It will take years to fully unleash the yacht's potential. ”
“In the first season, we set the sails to a minimum, because we did not know how she would behave. And as a result, the boat was underloaded. But when there was a good wind for a couple of days, we literally flew. She is very resilient. And as soon as you get away from the wind, it goes away like a hot knife in butter. "
- Total length: 15.38 m
- Width: 3.08 m
- Draft: 1.75 m
- Displacement: 3.8 t
- Sail area: 110 m2
- Year of issue: 1901 (re-launch in 2019)
- Design: Gunmar Mellgren
- Reconstruction: Bo Eriksson
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