SAIL­BOATS

Soundings - - Contents - BY DEN­NIS CAPRIO

One of only six re­main­ing New York 40s, Mar­ilee has been brought back to fight­ing form with a well-planned, team restora­tion.

Mar­ilee is one of six New York 40s still liv­ing, sail­ing and rac­ing. The yachts of this class were the Due­sen­bergs of the sea, rep­re­sent­ing a high point in the Golden Age of Sail.

Each re­main­ing NY40 is pre­cious. Each de­serves all the love and care an owner can give. Mar­ilee’s fate, how­ever, sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fers from that of her sis­ter ships. Her own­ers, Mar­ilee NY40 Rac­ing LLC, com­mis­sioned Paul War­ing of Stephens War­ing Yacht De­sign to re­cast the in­te­rior in the mod­ern id­iom of an open lay­out — with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the clas­si­cal am­bi­ence.

NY40s ap­peared on the yacht­ing scene in 1916. Th­ese were the last in a se­ries of one-de­sign boats that mem­bers of the New York Yacht Club com­mis­sioned Nathanael G. Her­reshoff and Her­reshoff Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co. to de­sign and build. Their num­bers in­di­cate the half-load wa­ter­line length. The NY30s ap­peared in 1905, NY50s in 1913. Her­reshoff built 14 NY40s, 12 of which launched in 1916 and two in 1926. Mar­ilee was one of the lat­ter.

New York 40s mea­sure 59 feet on deck, have a beam of 14 feet, 3 inches, and draw 8 feet. The first 12 were gaff-rigged sloops, but for the fol­low­ing sea­son they re­ceived a 6-foot bowsprit and an in­crease in over­all sail area. Un­like the slim one-de­signs of that era, such as the NY30 and NY50, NY40s were de­signed pri­mar­ily for cruis­ing, with gra­cious ac­com­mo­da­tions.

Her­reshoff gave the de­sign more free­board and beam to in­crease com­fort be­low. Although rac­ing was a sec­ondary con­sid­er­a­tion, the NY40s turned out to be, ac­cord­ing to John Parkinson Jr. in his book The His­tory of the New York Yacht Club, the “hottest rac­ing class of their time, called the Fight­ing Forties be­cause they raced hard all day and the Roar­ing Forties for drink­ing hard all night.”

Wooden boats don’t fare well when own­ers sub­scribe to the “race hard and put away wet” phi­los­o­phy, and by the late 1990s, Mar­ilee — at the time owned by a syn­di­cate of NYYC mem­bers — found her­self at Wil­liam Can­nell Boatbuilding in Cam­den, Maine, for a com­plete restora­tion. She had suf­fered the in­dig­nity of be­ing sheathed with fiber­glass in a mis­guided at­tempt to re­duce main­te­nance. She’d also been rigged as a yawl. Can­nell re­turned her rig to the orig­i­nal gaff sloop, and struc­turally re­paired the deck, hull and in­te­rior with the same species of wood that Her­reshoff had used in 1926. Safety and con­ve­nience dic­tated adding mod­ern sys­tems, but the yard didn’t dis­turb the orig­i­nal aes­thetic. She re­launched in 2001.

For the in­te­rior re­hab, she was placed in the ca­pa­ble hands of French & Webb in Belfast, Maine. Although Mar­ilee is op­er­ated

as an LLC, one per­son con­trols her fate. His ex­pe­ri­ence sail­ing aboard and tour­ing some 100 clas­sic yachts led him to this con­clu­sion: As won­der­ful as th­ese yachts are, the spa­ces be­low are too dark and too seg­mented to at­tract young own­ers who love clas­sic yachts but were brought up ap­pre­ci­at­ing bright, open liv­ing spa­ces and un­clut­tered sight­lines.

Af­ter weeks of re­search, thought and de­lib­er­a­tion, the owner and his team de­cided to pre­serve Mar­ilee’s orig­i­nal­ity by build­ing the pan­eled bulk­heads, seat­ing and func­tional ar­eas out of cy­press, as Her­reshoff had spec­i­fied. The restora­tion team ex­humed old- growth cy­press logs, which had been rest­ing for 150 years on the bot­tom of a riverbed in North Carolina, and used the wood for Mar­ilee’s new in­te­rior. Dis­tress­ing tech­niques and cus­tom fin­ishes that were avail­able in 1926 cre­ated the wood­work’s sense of depth and age. Met­al­work of bronze and cop­per — forged, cast and fab­ri­cated us­ing tech­niques em­ployed more than a cen­tury ago in Bris­tol, Rhode Is­land — ac­cen­tu­ate the struc­tural and aes­thetic el­e­ments be­low.

In­te­rior de­signer An­gela Thomp­son se­lected an­tique linens, leathers and pewter ac­cents, adding ap­pro­pri­ate tex­ture and warmth to the ac­com­mo­da­tions. LED lights tucked neatly out of view high­light de­tails of the in­te­rior and em­pha­size the open sight­lines. Orig­i­nal lighting fix­tures through­out en­hance the clas­sic at­mos­phere.

Purists may dis­miss Mar­ilee’s re­fit be­low as hyper­bole at best, sac­ri­lege at worst, but Capt. Nat likely would not be among them.

Mar­ilee’s new in­te­rior art­fully pays trib­ute to clas­sic Her­reshoff styling.

YEAR LAUNCHED: 1926 CON­STRUC­TION: wood LOA: 59 feet LWL: 40 feet BEAM: 14 feet DRAFT: 8 feet, 2 inches ORIG­I­NAL RIG: gaff sloop SAIL AREA: 2,100 square feet BAL­LAST: lead CUR­RENT OWN­ER­SHIP: Mar­ilee NY40 Rac­ing LLC, ny40­mar­ilee.com

Mar­ilee is a sight to be­hold un­der sail.

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